PlayStation owners looking to preserve their PS4 libraries in the future can breathe a sigh of relief, as the latest system firmware update reportedly fixed a time bomb found in every console.
Recently confirmed via testing by Modern Vintage Gamer, an unforeseen benefit of version 9.00 of the PS4 system software update appears to have canceled an authentication communication between the system’s internal clock and the PlayStation Network. This was a security measure that, if failed on both sides, prevented any PS4 software, digital or physical, from playing. For anyone who cares about being able to play PS4 games (like, say, the terrifying game of Hideo Kojima TP, a proof of concept demonstration struck out for the cancellation Silent hills) long after PSN support for the system has been closed, this is great news.
The problem is the PS4’s CMOS battery, which fits into the hardware’s motherboard and is used to internally track date and time, even when there is no power. If this battery is removed for replacement or simply dies, the system cannot properly follow the real world schedule. This forces the PS4 to reconnect to the PSN to establish the correct time, a routine check that occurs whenever you try to play a digital or physical game. So what happened, before the update, if you had a dead battery PS4 that is not connected to the internet? This PSN time check could not be completed, meaning that no games would be playing.
In his video, MVG founder Dimitris Giannakis carried out tests to verify Twitter rumblings that the CMOS problem had been solved. To do this, he tried to start a digital copy of 2018 God of the war after removing the CMOS from a base PS4 that was running older firmware and was disconnected from the internet, which failed. Then he updated the console to firmware 9.00 and then disconnected it from the internet before testing this game and a disk copy of 2018 Shadow of the colossus with the CMOS battery still removed. Both games started and went off without a hitch, although Giannakis noted that his trophy data for God of the war had been reset.
This is not the first time that Ars has reported this impending threat, which still affects PS3 hardware even after the PS4 update fixed it for this console. In March, Sony announced its initial intention to shut down online storefronts for PS3, PSP and Vita. The word spread quickly on social networks that dying CMOS batteries, which have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years, would eventually brick every PS4 after Sony inevitably shuts down PSN service for the console. The company backtracked on the closure of its PS3 and Vita stores in April after a major backlash, Sony Interactive Entertainment director Jim Ryan saying in a statement, “Clearly we made the wrong decision here. “
Other console makers each have their own methods of handling legacy platform games. The Xbox Series X has a similar but different drawback in that some Xbox One Offline Disc titles require a one-time online verification to complete the installation on the latest hardware from Microsoft, which Microsoft has yet to resolve. On a related note, the full list of backward compatible titles available for Xbox One and the original Xbox is also missing a number of games. Meanwhile, Nintendo has a habit of shutting down old storefronts and online services once their hardware is phased out of production.
While Sony’s official patch notes for the 9.00 update oddly make no mention of the CMOS patch, it may indicate a change in attitude towards platforms legacy from PlayStation. With the PS5’s backward compatibility limited (so far) to PS4 titles and in the absence of a major overhaul to its PS Now streaming game library, take the plunge to push an update that fixes the CMOS issue. on PS3 would also be a welcome change.