Home > Video Games > Yeah, You’re Gonna Have to Give That Back

Yeah, You’re Gonna Have to Give That Back

UPDATE: Geohot, the hacker who ‘instigated’ this arms race, has this to say:

A note to people interested in the exploit and retaining OtherOS support, DO NOT UPDATE. When 3.21 comes out, I will look into a safe way of updating to retain OtherOS support, perhaps something like Hellcat’s Recovery Flasher. I never intended to touch CFW, but if that’s how you want to play

Looks like the gauntlet is well and truly thrown down and I’m rooting for the super-nerd in the face of Sony’s way over-the-top response.


Mmm, Linux!
Bad Bunny Sony!

File this under bizarre and disturbing:

Sony has announced that OtherOS capabilities, including support for Linux, will no longer be available with the release of PlayStation 3 firmware 3.21 on 1st April. Citing “security concerns”, the platform holder has confirmed that all models of PS3 will be affected.

“For most of you, this won’t have any impact on how you use your PS3,” says the Official PlayStation Blog. “If you are one of the few who use the ‘Other OS’ feature, or if you belong to an organisation that does, then you can choose not to upgrade your system.”

However, not upgrading your system with the mandatory upgrade essentially cripples your PlayStation 3 in a number of ways. From 1st April, maintaining your current firmware blocks access to PSN, preventing online gaming and access to the PlayStation Store.

Got that? After the horses have already fled the barn (and you can damn well bet that nobody that’s ‘hacking’ the PS3 will ever update their system thus calling into question the necessity of this), Sony is going to take away functionality from the legitimate user that paid for it, bringing up some interesting questions (that Sony won’t answer short of being dragged into a court of law) about who, exactly, owns your shiny PlayStation 3: you or Sony?

(What’s truly self-serving about this is people have been using PS3 Linux to run all manner of emulated software for years, but Sony didn’t care about “security” when it was something that they didn’t perceive to be a threat. In other words, they tacitly approved people playing tons of games on their PS3s, illicitly, until…now.)

The best part, of course, is that though Sony notes that you don’t have to upgrade (Hackers: “don’t worry, we won’t!”) this isn’t actually an optional situation: if you don’t take it (and like it) you won’t be able to play newer games, log onto PSN (ergo, no online play) or even fully use your spiffy Blu-ray drive for 3D movies, thus making this a do it or lose it situation, essentially compelling you to throw away functionality you paid for with the implicit threat that you won’t be able to use your PS3, at all, if you don’t acquiesce.

Now I understand Sony’s concerns (they want to maximize security to prevent the plague that has afflicted Nintendo and Microsoft), but you do not punish legitimate users for the antics of a microscopic few, especially when there’s literally zero, proven, harm involved. (Except to the legit end user, the least important person in this equation, natch.) And, to really stress the key point: YOU DO NOT TAKE AWAY SOMETHING PEOPLE PAID FOR!! –that’s called, last time I looked, theft.

In any event, they’re going to do this and, when nobody really puts up much of a fight, it’s going to set a precedent where, whenever they feel like it, they can strip out any functionality they deem necessary1.

Even worse, it sets a dangerous precedent for everyone else (Nintendo, Microsoft…Pottery Barn) and, again, calls into question who owns the products you legitimately paid for: you or the people you bought it from and how far is a company allowed to go in stripping you of that ownership, ex post facto?

(The only case where is remotely ethical or legitimate is if you don’t actually own the hardware, i.e. you are renting or leasing it, then you are SOL.)

To their credit, Eurogamer at least appears to not be taking this one totally lying down.

1 No doubt this is covered, somewhere, in their labyrinthine EULA thus giving them some flimsy legal cover, but there is some question (warning: loony libertarian-speak ahead) regarding their legality.

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