Sony Pushes (Another) Mandatory PS3 Update

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News Posted: Tue, Sep 7 2010 8:35 PM
Last month, an Australian judge granted Sony complete control over an inventory of PS3 jailbreak devices, but winning its court case apparently wasn't enough for the console giant. On Monday, September 6, Sony's Director of Hardware Marketing, John Koller, announced: "A minor update to your PS3 system is now available via system software update v3.42 that includes additional security features." In this case, "additional security features" translates directly into "plugging the latest firmware hole end-users are exploring."

Maybe it's time to throw in the towel and admit we don't really get Sony. Oh, it's easy to understand why the company is afraid of jailbroken PS3s—the company has an enormous interest in protecting the PS3's revenue stream—but the ways in which the company attempts to safeguard the PS3 sometimes boggles the mind. This might not seem so much an issue, but the PS3 already starts off with two strikes against it. Unlike the Wii or XBox 360, the PS3 has actually lost features (two USB 2.0 ports, Other OS support, the integrated flash card reader, and SACD support). We won't even mention Sixaxis, or the company's complete flip-flop on the importance of rumble as a feature.


The PSPGo got up and went.

Sony's download-only PSP Go is all but dead, UMD as a method of movie distribution is dead, and Blu-ray, while lumbering upwards, has yet to set consumers on fire for fresh hardware. You'd think Sony might've learned by now that expensive, proprietary standards don't win mass market acceptance—Betamax, Digital Audio Tape, Minidisc, ATRAC, MemoryStick, MemoryStick Micro, and UMD for films all failed—but the company continues to pursue strategies that maximize control, even if it means shafting a prominent community of supercomputer experts the company loudly courted just two years ago.

Obviously this is not the sort of issue that'll ever sink the PS3, but it's extremely unlikely that any homebrew enthusiast or Other OS fan will trust Sony when it comes time to market the PS4, regardless of what the company promises about its long-term commitment to such features or to more pertinent items, like PS3 backwards compatibility. This is all the
more surprising given how badly the Playstation 3 struggled at launch; you might think Sony would remember the various (admittedly fringe) groups that expressed interest in the unit's capabilities.

This firmware will, of course, be broken. Sony will promptly update it, and we'll probably be doing this dance from here until the console ceases production. We can't help wondering if Sony's ironclad determination to prevent all 'unauthorized' use of the PS3 will open a window Microsoft takes advantage of when it designs the next XBox. That company's attitude towards legitimacy has evolved considerably over the last decade; the Windows Genuine Advantage program began life as a piece of software that would lock you out of your own system and has evolved into a program that simply nags you incessantly to update. The next-generation XBox, whenever it arrives, may well cater to the desires of homebrew enthusiasts while simultaneously striking a balance between users' rights and security that isn't so draconian. 
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Proprietary standards don't win mass market acceptance? How about CD, or PS2 games? Introducing new standards is risky business but the rewards for winners are too high to ignore.

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OMG! lol i totally forgot that sony released the PSPgo xD.

Now to wait and see a hacker hack the new update :D

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We need to push Sony for a free Mandatory PS3:P

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sackyhack replied on Tue, Sep 7 2010 11:39 PM

Wow, this is one hell of an opinion piece. I don't think I'm fanboy, as I own all 3 consoles plus a beefy PC, but I think Sony has every right to protect their system after what happened with the PSP and piracy. Sure, some people will complain about the lack of homebrew, and some users honestly want such features, but you can bet your ass 99% of people that would use the exploit will be doing so to pirate games.

I was among these pirates until I got a decent job and no longer had an excuse for it, but I still follow scene news. If you did too, you'd know that every step Sony has taken was in response to hackers closing in on a major exploit, not some evil misguided plan to take features away from customers. Some of their decisions are mind-boggling, like stopping backwards compatibility support, but I think their response to attempts at circumventing protection is justified. I think it's appropriate to ignore a "prominent community" of supercomputer experts that may number in the hundreds when faced with a potential of hundreds of thousands that would be loading up their hard-drives with pirated games.

As far as the rumble "flip-flop", enough people complained so Sony brought it back. Would you have preferred Sony said "no we like our idea better"? Not enough people complained about dropping OtherOS support, so it's not coming back. It's simple.

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Whether we as consumers agree or disagree with Sony (or Apple, or Dell, or anyone else), ultimately WE have the final say. Vote with your wallets, people!

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Joel H replied on Wed, Sep 8 2010 1:21 AM

Taylor,

Proprietary standards as used in video games for video game discs don't count. You'll note, for example, I referred to UMD as a failure for *movie* distribution. Obviously games released on UMD have done just find, particularly in comparison to the PSP Go's download-only strategy.

True, CD's were huge--but CD technology was a near-perfect example of being in the right place at the right time with the right features. For every proprietary technology you can name that's succeeded, there are many that don't (and all of Sony's that I listed failed). If you want non-Sony examples, consider FireWire vs. USB or PCI vs. IBM's MicroChannel. Those are two easy examples off the top of my head--in both cases, the expensive, proprietary format died while the cheaper, ubiquitous format didn't.

Sackyhack:

"I think Sony has every right to protect their system..."

So do I. This isn't a question of what Sony has the right to do or not to do. So long as Sony doesn't misadvertise the capabilities of a product, it's free to make whatever changes it wants.

My point here is that Sony has something of a systemic, multi-decade problem. Most of the formats I listed here that failed had good points. Some of them, like Minidisc, were downright great. In almost every case, however, Sony's demands for excessive control over what it viewed as a revenue stream led to the destruction of that revenue long term.

No, people aren't going to stop buying PS3s, but shoving these sorts of updates down people's throats and making them mandatory (or no logging in) is a perfect example of how Sony seems unable to balance product protection and consumer privilege. I'd argue this is one of the reasons why Sony's brand reputation has taken such a clobbering in the past 10-15 years.

Consider rumble again. It's pretty well known that Sony didn't include PS3 rumble because it was engaged in a lawsuit with Immersion at the time. Microsoft settled with Immersion in 2003 for $26 million and, IIRC, shipped rumble support with the XBox 360.

Certainly Sony *could* have settled with Immersion--$26 million is peanuts to Sony. It also had plenty of time; Immersion filed its lawsuit against both MS and Sony in 2002; the PS3 didn't ship until four years later. Where Microsoft read what gamers would want accurately, however, Sony decided it could develop Sixaxis, and then convince gamers they really wanted it instead of rumble.

Eventually Sony backtracked (good for them). I think, given the company's history, it's extremely relevant to ask how the company could've misread gamer desires so badly in the first place. To me, the Sixaxis issue is another example of how the executives behind console development are deeply out of touch with what their own gaming public actually want.

Hope this clears some things up.

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No matter how many times they fix the security holes theres always a way to hack a device.

I wouldn't suprise if the hackers makes a different jailbraker for the PS3, it just of matter of time.

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Sep 8 2010 4:34 PM

>> We can't help wondering if Sony's ironclad determination to prevent all 'unauthorized' use of the PS3 will open a window Microsoft takes advantage of when it designs the next XBox.

Sure they will... they'll welcome people installing Linux on their console.

I won't be around for that though, because I'll be too busy making snow angels in hell.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Sep 8 2010 4:49 PM

I've got an idea:

I never updated my system to the crippled firmware, so my (original model, hardware backwards compatibility) system still has OtherOS.  So.... I wonder if I could sell my PS3 on eBay for enough money to basically get all my money back plus a bonus.

Eh, probably won't do it... simply because I dislike the idea of selling it to some pirate kiddie that will use it to play "backups" when I could hack around with programming it instead.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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DManson replied on Tue, Sep 20 2011 3:25 AM

Wow dude. What kinda job did you get. I want all three systems and a beefy computer.

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