At the end of last year, Sony announced plans to shutter access to the Playstation Store via their long dead PSP platform. This move is expected, and honestly comes as no surprise given how little attention they are giving their current handheld platform, the Playstation Vita. Though I am normally a physical media kind of guy, as more digital offerings became available for PSP in the last few years of it’s run, I’d upgraded my memory stick and taken the opportunity to load up my portable of choice with game files rather than loading up my pockets with UMD discs. This means I have a lot of digital media for my PSP, and as anyone dealing with limited save space and increasing file sizes knows, you sometimes have to delete the old to make room for the new. Of course, you always plan to someday get a larger drive or a bigger card and download all that old stuff again so you have it to play in the event that the world falls down around you and you’re left with only your games to keep you company for whatever is left of eternity. That and when you pay for content, you want to be sure to have it available to you should access to that content become unavailable in the future.
To that end, I decided it was time to finally break out the old PSP2000 this week and load it up with games, if for no other reason than to have my paid digital content exist in as much a physical manner as possible, and available locally should I ever have the itch to boot up The Con again one day. True to their word, Sony shutoff access to the PSP arm of the PSN Store on March 31st, but as they stressed at the time, you can still download your content via the PSN Store on PC or through a PS3 console, by proxy. I suppose the best course of action would have been to access the store before things were shutdown, but I‘d put it off until it was far too late and now had to work with my current options. Considering the very limited HD space on my PS3 (I will inevitably be doing this again one day on that system) I downloaded the PC client and signed into the store to get started.
Much to my disdain, you are unable to simply download the game file to your PC and load it onto your PSP whenever you feel like it- as you would with a PS3. Instead, you are given a small file that, once your PSP system is physically hooked up to your PC via USB and that file selected, then downloads the game data right past your computer and to the console itself, presumably to protect the game data from being mined and manipulated. This is a useless protection considering the data could then just be copied back to a PC for backup through Windows and all the same files would be available to do with as one pleased, but whatever. I finally had the room for all or most of my games and had no choice but to play by their rules.
I have been an avid Playstation gamer since before the PSN Store came online in November of 2006, and a Playstation Plus account holder since that service started in the Summer of 2010. I have a lot of content. Like, A LOT of content. My download history currently contains a staggering 2226 items, and Sony is notoriously bad at organizing access your downloads, so no matter how or where you view it, you are left with a long, reverse-chronological list of every single one of your items across 4 potential Playstation platforms- from XMB themes to movie trailers to demos you threw away and forgot about. There are options to filter broad types of content (videos, games, music, apps) on PC, but the “games” section comprises literally more than 99.9% of my total content.
Signing into the web version of the PSN Store via PC, you are able to pull up your list of content, which displays in paged chunks of 10 items at a time and allows you to start from either end. I have 245 pages of content to sort through, though most of my PSP content was purchased between 2009 and 2011, so that narrowed things down quite a bit and I was able to figure out where that section of files was and get to it more quickly each time. I say each time because the sign-in to the page expires every few minutes or every few downloads, not sure which, and you are forced to sign in again and again and navigate to your content from page one each time. It’s just as horrible as it sounds. An option to organize via compatible system, date range, or type of game content is sorely needed, and will inevitably come down the pipeline one day as an increasing number of users migrate through platforms and start to try to navigate back through the tangled mess of a download history that they have amassed.
I decided to download all of the links to my files so that I could sit and load them up without the hassle of signing back in and so they were all collected for me in one place. The problem with that is they are all named by license number rather than the title of the game, so it quickly became apparent I would have to personally label each with a title in order to organize and make sense of them when it came time to get them all onto the PSP. I also decided to add downloaded file sizes for good measure and so I could manage my available space more effectively. I now had gone through everything I owned and pulled some 80 link files, intentionally passing over any timed Plus content in the interest of eternal longevity, and had individually labelled each one by hand and placed them into an archive that I could pull from anytime. It was finally time to get my content back.
After downloading the PSP client to the PC and connecting via USB, I decided to start with a video that I had purchased and wanted to review to see if it was worth the space it would occupy on my card. I clicked the link and the transfer window came up and counted down as nearly 800mb were pulled from a Sony server somewhere and beamed to my PSP. A few minutes later, I disconnected and scanned the video. It was not worth the space, so I deleted it and hooked back up to see what game to grab first, settling on Phantasy Star Portable 2. I clicked the link and the transfer window appeared, only this time as the download bar began to tick up to 1%, it stopped and threw me a connection error. I tried another game, and another. Same error code again and again. Tried a few more videos and they downloaded with no issue, but every game I tried threw the error. Maybe the links expire, I thought? I went back to my online history and tried downloading a fresh link or two to the same results. Something was wrong, and it was only affecting games and did not appear to be in my end. I googled the error and found a few gaming forum posts detailing the same issue, some almost 2 years old. There were no real explanations there, but other users had suggested possible solutions might include resetting the PSP settings to default or resetting your router, both of which I tried to no avail.
I remembered that when we added a PSP Go to the family- and again when I registered my Vita as a PSP- each one had to be activated, and though I didn’t remember the total number, I knew there could only be so many of one system type active under a given account and that new registration had bumped some of the older systems off of mine. I checked online and saw that I currently had 4 active PSPs, but in true Sony fashion, there is nothing to identify the PSP hardware type or system name or otherwise distinguish one from the other. Figuring my 2000 had become deactivated for gaming content and that was the root of the error, I set about deactivating my old, long sold systems.
Sony offers an online request form to deactivate “systems you no longer own” however you must enter a serial number from each system. Raise your hand if you wrote down all of the serial numbers on your old gaming systems before you traded them in or sold them off... yeah, me either. Besides this option, you can deactivate ALL of your systems, but not each one individually. I contacted Playstation Support and they told me they were also unable to deactivate individual systems, but assured me that if I deactivated all my connected Playstation systems, my data would be safe and each console would reactivate when I signed back in. They didn’t lie- I deactivated all of my systems and then signed each one back in to eliminate the unused ones, and all were just as I’d left them, thank goodness. I hooked my PSP back up and readied myself to finally load the system up with the games I’d paid for... and was promptly met with the exact same error code. Fuck.
Becoming very frustrated at this point, I realized I still had my PS3 and that it may be my only option available if I wanted to get this content to my PSP. And here’s where I found an amazing loophole out of sheer desperation. When I signed my PSP back in, I also tried to open the store and was met with an expected error code. This time though, instead of backing out to the menu, I moved up to my download history icon at the top of the screen and to my surprise, I was still able to access my old content via the PSN Store.
It seems access to the purchase of new PSP content was blocked on 3/31/16, but the account functions (including your download history) and blank main store page are still active- at least for the time being.
Judging by the insurmountable trouble I had getting any game content to copy through Sony’s main approved method of detour, I’d urge you to dust off those old PSPs right now and download your content directly before this loophole gets closed and you’re forced to use a PS3 as a go-between. As clunky and cluttered as the PSP and PC options are, PS3 is the absolute worst and takes the most time, as you must continually scroll back to your position on your list since it dumps you back to the top after it finishes grabbing each item. Ugh.
Downloading directly through the PSP has always been the fastest and least time-consuming option, but it has a similar fault to the PC webstore access in that your server connection seems to time out after a few minutes of inactivity or after about an hour of steady downloads, forcing you to scroll back to the next piece of content you are looking for. I recommend taking note as to what number you last left off with or at least have a good idea as to what range you need to find your way back to and prepare for your connection to be dropped at any point.
I have to hold the down arrow on the D-pad for over 2 minutes to get to the end of my long download list. It’s certainly a journey, but when the payoff at the end is all of the games that I’ve paid so much goddamn hard-earned money for, it’s a journey worth taking until I’ve got it all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a misplaced PSP Go to find.
Had trouble getting your old content back? Did Sony’s PC client actually *gasp* work for you??
Please sound off and share your frustrations and successes below!