Have you ever noticed that your PS3 requires a lot of updates lately? And that they typically don’t come with any new features? Well, you’re not alone and you’re not imagining things.
The folks as Sony have been busy releasing new firmware, calling most of them “security patches”. (See the full list of firmware at the PS3 System Software wiki). But it’s not the security of you, the owner of the PlayStation that they’re worried about protecting. No, instead they’re working to make sure you have less control over your PlayStation and removing features. Features that were advertised and for some the reason they purchased a PS3 over the competition, like the OtherOS feature.
See, us geeks like to play with the electronics that we own. I loved the idea of running a Linux operating system on my PS3. Unfortunately, my rear projection TV was prone to burn in, so I waited, and waited until I owned a TV that could double as a PC monitor without issue. Once I had purchased the new TV, I pulled out the PSUbuntu disk that I had in waiting, only to find out that Sony removed the ability to use this feature. But why?
Instead of adding features, Sony is patching software to prevent users from using their PS3 boxes as they wish. As with any electronic device, there will always be those that want to squeeze the full potential out of the unit they’ve purchased. A community of PS3 “hackers” had developed (http://www.ps3-hacks.com/). Without going into the technical gobbly goop, someone learned enough about how the PS3 really works inside that Sony was afraid that this small group of geeks could create their own games.
So, Sony has decided that they would rather protect their own interests than do what is right for the consumer. It sees fit to randomly remove features that owners of a PS3 have paid. It has no problems with pushing update after update, as part of an all out war against a few geeks that includes disabling features on the PS3, lawsuits against PS3 owners, and in some cases Sony is preventing users that have played around with their PS3s from accessing online features of games on a permanent basis (“Ban Hammer” Google search).
In response, there have been several class action lawsuits filed. It is obvious that owners of PS3s are upset with Sony’s stance of screwing PS3 owners in order to cover their tail. And with every “security update” that Sony pushes upon us, those that wish to use the PS3 to its full potential seem to find a work around. Like an endless game of cat and mouse, between computer geeks and Sony, where the average consumer just keeps losing.
Hopefully Sony will remember that there is a very large group of consumers that have paid a lot of money to own a full featured PS3. That when they advertise features, like OtherOS, that consumers expect to be able to use these features. What is next? Will the USB ports be turned off? Will Sony remove the ability to stream Netflix? How many features will Sony remove from the PS3? Maybe someday, Sony will work on adding features. Until then, I’ll wait around while the next useless update is pushed to my PS3 (which will likely be the last Sony product I purchase…).