Since I purchased my PS Vita, one of the games I’ve constantly had the desire to play is Monster Hunter Portable 3rd. If you’ve read any of my other posts then you already know I’m a huge MH fan. The problem is, my UMD copy of MHP3 is not compatible with my Vita. Even if it was, there is no way to play the game in English. You can purchase the MHP3 HD version, but you need a PS3 to transfer the game over to your Vita.

You see, the custom firmware for the original PSP models was actually useful for a lot more than just piracy. Sure, some unscrupulous types used it to freely circumvent DRM and acquire a boatload of games. Me, I just used it to play digitally backed up copies of my UMDs and to play imported titles like MHP3 in my native language. The other great thing about custom firmware is that you can play homebrew titles, which is essentially the same as privately developed indies. A lot of the homebrew games are actually very cool, there are definitely some creative devs out there. I would argue that many homebrew titles are better than any of the PSP Minis that were ever released.

So, I’m droning on about custom firmware on the PSP. That’s great, right? I’m sure some of you harbor hatred for the “CFW scene” because you believe it killed the PSP. In a way, piracy is what caused developers to shy away from the console. It may even be part of the reason why devs are not interested in producing native titles for the Vita (among other issues). I think -and this will never happen- Sony should embrace the scene and provide even more tools to get the job done.

That’s a crazy notion. Why would Sony ever agree to help “hackers” plug into their console, opening it up for piracy and essentially ruining any chance they have at making money? Because I genuinely believe that most in the scene are not interested in piracy. There are always bad eggs, I’m sure there are even some bad eggs working at Sony but that doesn’t mean everyone is an enemy.

Sony PS Vita console

CFW is a Very Good Thing For Legacy Owners

I loved my PSP wholeheartedly and I bought so many games and UMDs for the thing. It’s terrible that my library is pretty much obsolete now. Backing them up to a digital form is what made them relevant. Even when my PSP was working and I could play UMDs, I had a huge memory card which allowed me to lug around a decent collection of games. Do you know how bulky your bag gets when you have to carry dozens of UMDs? It goes without saying, games in a digital form are much more portable.

When Sony launched the PSP Go it only supported digital games, which made a great deal of the PSP library inaccessible to owners- that’s just one of many reasons why it was a complete failure. The thing is, a lot of PSP games are only available in UMD form. Just to put this into perspective, here are the games not currently available on PSN that should be (most of them I own on UMD):

  • Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (Japan)
  • Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
  • Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
  • Phantasy Star Portable 2
  • Brave Story: New Traveler
  • Star Ocean (First Departure, Second Evolution)

I’m stopping the list here, but there are hundreds more and it’s a crying shame. The PS Vita is not the only place where loyal gamers can play their favorite titles. They can also play on the PS3 and PS4. That’s A LOT of buying power if you can get the formula right Sony.

There is one thing Sony did right: Playstation Plus. That’s why I happily gave them my money and have a one-year subscription.

Amazon prices vs PSN

Sony Obviously Doesn’t Want My Money

Sony is not very good at taking my money. In fact, I would argue they fucking suck at it. There are so many PSP titles that are not available on PSN, my cherished Monster Hunter Portable 3rd is one of those excluded titles. Sure, you can pick up Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (FOR 20 FUCKING DOLLARS) but it’s not the same. What’s even worse is that the digital titles that are available are priced way too fucking high, especially for legacy games. You can pick up a UMD for less than ten bucks now, why is the digital copy marked up so much? Supply and demand and all that shit, right? Actually, some companies would profit more if they’d lower their godamn prices but I digress.

All of that is not an argument to support piracy, but it is an argument to support custom firmware and similar endeavors. Thanks to some brilliant “hackers” I can now play one of my favorite games on my Vita -Monster Hunter Portable 3rd if you haven’t figured that out by now- along with several other PSP titles that I still own. Yes, I still own them in a physical form and I can see them sitting on the shelf right from where I’m sitting. That’s not even including the huge pile of original Playstation (PSX) games I have stashed away that I can RIP to ISO form and throw onto my Vita memory card. Let’s not forget the countless emulators and homebrew games/apps you can install on the device without paying a cent (they are freeware).

Sony PSP UMDs stacked

Honestly, an exploit game release and custom firmware does not currently help Sony (and I hate when assholes claim that it does, you’re everything that’s wrong with the gaming community). Sure, a bunch of people may run out to buy the exploit title in the short term but the company and developers lose a lot of money due to piracy overall. I’m not blind to that, and I’m not condoning it. Piracy is terrible, and I know that first hand because our team (for Tales of Illyria) is dealing with the same bullshit right now on Android. My point here is that maybe Sony can work with some of these very talented “hackers” to come up with a better solution. Maybe there is a possible middle ground? What if Sony created their own CFW for the device, charged a premium for it and gave these “hackers” a cut? That’s a ridiculous idea and there are other problems that would arise from such a decision, but it doesn’t change the fact that it would be beneficial to Sony.

My proposal to Sony is this: Fix the price gouging for outdated and old games. Add games to PSN that you don’t currently offer (and quite frankly your selection has never been that great). Finally, instead of doing everything you can to thwart these “hackers” why don’t you just scoop them up into your arms and work with them? You may learn a thing or two about pleasing the gaming community. Better yet, you may even be able to come up with something together that will help boost your sales.

Even if you absolutely loathe the CFW scene, there’s no denying the fact that some very cool things are happening because of it. Sony would do well to pay attention to that.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think this is all a bunch of drivel? Do you think Sony really could work with the CFW scene to come up with something? Do you think I’m spewing hot flames out of my ass? Go ahead and discuss it in the comments.