Update: Nintendo is shutting down the Wii U and 3DS eShops in 2023, meaning the same problem is about to affect those ageing systems.
When Sony announced that it would be close stores for PS3, PSP and PS Vita later this year, the number of potential games to be affected was out of focus. A new breakdown shows that hundreds of digital-only games will be permanently out of reach for PlayStation gamers thanks to the closure.
According to an analysis by VGC, 2,000 digital-only games will be inaccessible for PlayStation gamers later this year. Luckily, most of these games are available on other platforms, like Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch and PC. Unfortunately, there are 120 games that were exclusively released on PS3, PSP and PS Vita digitally, meaning that these games could be snapped out of existence entirely.
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The analysis is not perfect, by VGC's own admission. Sony had, without warning, closed the web storefronts, making it impossible to browse the digital catalogue on a computer. Therefore, VGC had to use other sources, like information from PlayStation Trophies and other reports, to get some kind of count.
Here's a breakdown of the number of digital only games for each system:
- Around 630 digital-only Vita games
- Around 730 digital-only PS3 (PSN) games
- A small number of digital-only PSP games
- 293 PlayStation Minis
- 336 PS2 Classics
- Around 260 PS1 Classics (particularly on PSP and Vita)
Again, the above count should only be seen as estimates. For example, the 630-or-so PS Vita games is based on a count from 2017, and does not include the slow trickle of indie titles that have come out for Sony's cult-handheld since then. Actually, there are still indie developers making games for Vita, who weren't tipped off of the closure by Sony leading to much sadness.
The PS3 games, which make up 730 in total via PlayStation Trophies, do not account for any games that may have been delisted over the last 15 years. Even then, the number shouldn't be too far off.
The PlayStation store was a boon to classic gamers who wanted to experience games from the PS1 and PS2 era, but who had trouble finding physical discs. Discs can be difficult to come by for some games, making the few discs that do exist prohibitively expensive. (Some of the rarest games, as compiled by GameRant, can easily sell for over $100 on eBay.) What's more, the issue of "disc rot" means that physical versions of these games may become totally unplayable over time.
And then there's the case of the 120 games that were only digitally released on PS3, PSP or PS Vita. These games will be lost forever, making it a potential nightmare for game preservationists. Some of these games include Infamous: Festival of Blood, Echochrome II, Lumines Supernova, The Last Guy, Rain, Trash Panic, Pain, PixelJunk Racers, Tokyo Jungle, TxK and MotorStorm RC.
Sony has not announced any sort of broad backward compatibility with PS5.
There is Sony's PlayStation Now game streaming service, which will continue to have some of the PS3 games being removed. But the games on that service could change at any time.
Sony and Nintendo have taken the opposite approach to Microsoft, which not only offers enhanced backward compatibility on Xbox Series X and S, but has made a commitment to preserving older games. Remember though, Microsoft is a software giant that also has its Azure cloud platform. Considering the amount of data Microsoft manages for the largest companies in the world, a few Xbox games floating around is nothing.
That's opposed to Sony or Nintendo, which do not have elaborate server systems at the level of Amazon or Microsoft. Keeping these servers active costs resources, money which could be better spent on PS4 and PS5 server maintenance.
For those that have been holding off on buying certain games, it's probably best to download them soon. The closures will go into effect on July 2 for PS3 and PSP and August 27 for PS Vita.