The rumors surrounding Sony possibly shutting down the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita are still simply rumors. However, there’s an underlining dread of what could come if, in fact, the company goes through with this. While this isn’t new for a company to do this, Nintendo shut down the Wii Shop Channel in January 2019; it does raise the argument of whether or not you actually own your game if you purchase it digitally.
There’s a layer of convenience that comes with purchasing a game digitally. You get to download a game early; usually, there are some digital bonuses, it doesn’t take up physical space in your room, and you don’t have to leave your house. There are probably more reasons some might go this route, but it’s increasingly common for gamers to simply buy their games digitally. In fact, it’s more popular now than it ever has been, with year over year statistics showing that digital gaming is the future.
However, given that this digital future is so new, we really haven’t figured out what we will do if the day comes where these stores shut down entirely. Yes, this raises another argument that I won’t get into too much in this piece, but it’s something to consider how quickly our lives can change, which 2020 has taught us well.
The best thing about these digital stores is how they provide an easy way for new generations of gamers to play older games. Shutting down these storefronts will do two things, increase game emulation and raise the price of the physical media currently available. For example, the PlayStation 2 didn’t have an online storefront. For this reason, I will probably never be able to play games like Kuon, which costs over $600 now.
On this topic, the PSP has a huge library of games that already cost over $100 physically, but the PSN price is significantly lower. For example, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona can be found used for over $100 physically, but the PSN price is just $19.99. Now, imagine what would happen to that physical price once the game is removed from the digital storefront? I’m assuming it will rise significantly, and future generations of gamers will have to suffer paying insanely high prices just to play a game.
I was hoping future generations of gamers wouldn’t have to deal with inflated physical video game prices. When Suikoden II launched on PSN, I was ecstatic that more people could understand why the game is so good. Further, when Sony started releasing PlayStation 2 games on PS4, I looked forward to just how far they would take it, which ended up not being far at all.
As a physical game collector, I have never been one to purchase digital games. However, not everyone is in the position I’m in, so I sympathize with those wondering what will happen if Sony goes through with this. The library of games available on Vita alone is a significant setback because most of those games aren’t available physically.
My only hope is that Sony has the pieces in place to preserve the digital games purchased. I would also hope they’d consider bringing more classic games to PlayStation 5 or at least opening up the doors to backward compatibility. Knock Xbox for its lack of exclusives all you want, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing old Xbox games on the Series X.
Now we play the waiting game to see what Sony’s plans are. So for future generations of gamers, I can only suggest you buy physical games and demand that platform holders continue to provide physical media because it seems that’s the only way we can ensure we’ll be able to play these games for years to come.
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