PS3, Vita games mysteriously expire making them unplayable

Anime style fierce looking youths with blades.

picture: Square Enix/MobyGames

Digital purchases mysteriously expire on classic PlayStation consoles, rendering a random selection of games unplayable.

In the past few days, PlayStation users have been reporting strange decades-old expiration dates being applied to their digital games. When re-downloading the PSOne Classic version of chrono crossFor example, Twitter user Christopher Foose was notified of the purchase expired on 12/31/1969which prevents him from playing the game on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.

GamesHub Editor Edmond Tran described a similar problem. Try to boot up chrono cross on PlayStation 3, Tran said, gave it the same expiration date and time, just adjusted for its Australian location. However, Tran did mention that he was able to download the PSOne Classic from his library and play it on Vita without any problems, although the game has apparently been dropped from the handheld’s store.

While at first that felt like an attempt at encouragement chrono cross fans to buy the New Radical Dreamers remaster, kotaku quickly found evidence that the same problem occurs in different games.

chrono cross worked well for Content Creator Words, but not his spiritual predecessor Chrono triggerwhose license somehow expired 40 years before the game was added to the PSOne Classic library.

Steve J over on Twitter asked PlayStation directly why that was expiry date for his copy of Final Fantasy VI was changed to 1969 but never received a reply.

Reddit user Gyrocop reported his PlayStation 3 give them bullshit Rune Factory: Oceans (subtitled tides of fate in North America) earlier this week. They were also told that their digital purchase license expired in 1970. Switching to another console did not help.

Two separate threads on the Vita subreddit shared the same storywith a poster claiming that you entire library of digital games remained affected even after trying solutions such as re-subscribing to PlayStation Plus and resetting the system to factory settings.

And finally, someone posted on GameFAQs a now known expiration date of 1969 for the PSOne Classic version of Final Fantasy Origins three days ago.

The only possible explanation I’ve seen for this problem so far involves what is called “Unix Epoch‘ or the arbitrary date that early engineers designated as the beginning of the operating system’s lifetime. Some bugs or glitches in Sony’s backend can revert PlayStation game license expiration dates back to the Unix epoch, essentially telling them they can’t be played after midnight UTC on January 1st, 1970.

kotaku contacted Sony regarding these issues, but received no response prior to publication.

Whatever the case, it affects users’ ability to play games they claim to own, and that can be frustrating as hell when you think about it all tires have to puncture to maintain their classic libraries. However, this is also a good example of why it’s best to buy physically when possible. We never know when digital games will just appear and disappear, and there’s really nothing we can do about it when it’s inevitable.

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