Strange bug causes PS Vita and PS3 games to ‘expire’

A photo of the PS Vita
(Image credit: Shutterstock )

If you’ve been struggling to access some of your digital PS Vita or PS3 games, you aren’t alone. As reported by Kotaku (opens in new tab), some players have been reporting issues after a strange expiration date appeared on certain games. 

The weirdest part is that the games supposedly expired on December 31, 1969. 52 years in the past, and 37 years before the PS3 actually launched. The problem isn’t affecting games equally either, and seems to be affecting classic titles like Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy VI.

Twitter user Chritsopher Foose shared (opens in new tab) an image of this happening to his PSOne Classic version of Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger. Apparently this only happened after re-downloading the game, and means he can’t play it on PS3 or PS Vita.

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GamesHub editor Edmond Tran reported (opens in new tab) a similar issue, though he could still play Chrono Cross on the Vita. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to find the game on the Vita store, suggesting Sony may have taken it down.

Other users on Reddit and Twitter also reported issues with Rune Factory Oceans (opens in new tab), Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (opens in new tab), Final Fantasy VI (opens in new tab) and Gex: Enter the Gecko (opens in new tab). One user (opens in new tab) even claimed that all their digital Vita titles had expired.

Sony has yet to respond to this problem, leaving users at a loss of what to do. Some have tried resetting consoles, re-subscribing to PlayStation Plus, restoring game licences and so on, but nothing seems to work.

Some users, and Kotaku, note that the expiry date is just before the Unix Epoch, a system that counts the number of seconds since time began for Unix. That’s midnight GMT on January 1, 1970. 

It’s possible that some sort of glitch is affecting Sony's databases, and reverting a date back to Unix Epoch. And because the Unix Epoch is GMT, anyone living west of the U.K. will end up being served the date December 31, 1969. It’s a well documented glitch (opens in new tab), though why it’s suddenly affected the PS3 and PS Vita catalogues isn’t clear.

Unfortunately, this is just fueling some concerns that Sony is doing something to the PS3 and PS Vita storefronts. The company tried to shut them down last year, only backtracking after major uproar from users, and later removed the option to pay via credit card or PayPal, making it almost impossible to buy games

Here’s hoping this problem can get fixed, and soon, otherwise it’s yet another argument in favor of only ever buying physical video games.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.