PlayStation owners looking to keep their PS4 libraries long into the future can breathe a sigh of relief as the system’s latest firmware update allegedly fixes a time bomb found in every console.
Recently confirmed over Tests by Modern Vintage Gamer, an unforeseen benefit of the PS4 system software update version 9.00 appears to have destroyed authentication communication between the system’s internal clock and the PlayStation Network. This was a security measure that, if failed on either side, prevented PS4 software, whether digital or physical, from being played. For anyone worried about being able to play PS4 games (like Hideo Kojima’s terrifying ones PT, a delisting proof of concept demo for the canceled Silent hills) long after PSN support ended for the system, this is great news.
The problem is the PS4’s CMOS battery, which fits into the hardware’s motherboard and is used to keep track of the date and time internally, even when there is no power. If this battery is removed for replacement or simply dead, the system will not be able to keep track of the real calendar properly. This forces the PS4 to reconnect to the PSN to determine the correct time – a routine check that occurs every time you try to play a digital or physical game. So what happened before the update if you had a PS4 with a dead battery and not connected to the internet? This time check with PSN could not be completed, which means that all games could not be played.
In his video, MVG founder Dimitris Giannakis ran tests to check this rumbling on Twitter that the CMOS problem has actually been resolved. To do this, he tried to make a digital copy of 2018 God of War after removing the CMOS from a base PS4 that was running older firmware and that was disconnected from the internet, which failed. Next, he updated the console to firmware 9.00 and then disconnected it from the internet before testing the game and a 2018 disc copy Shadow of the colossus with the CMOS battery removed. Both games started and ran without problems, although Giannakis noted that his trophy dates for God of War had been reset.
This is not the first time Ars has reported on this impending threat which continues to affect the PS3 hardware even after the PS4 update for this console. In March, Sony announced the first plans to close its online stores for PS3, PSP and Vita. It soon got around on social media that dying CMOS batteries – which have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years – would eventually ruin all PS4s after Sony inevitably stopped PSN service for the console. The company changed course when it closed its PS3 and Vita stores in April after significant backlash. Sony Interactive Entertainment head Jim Ryan said in a statement: “It is clear that we made the wrong decision here.”
Other console manufacturers each have their own methods of tackling legacy platform games. Xbox Series X has a similar but different drawback in that some offline disc-based Xbox One titles require a one-time online verification in order to complete the installation on the latest Microsoft hardware, which Microsoft has yet to address. In this context, a number of games are also missing from the overall list of backward compatible titles available for Xbox One and the original Xbox. Nintendo has meanwhile closed older storefronts and online services as soon as their hardware goes out of production.
During Sony’s official patch notes For the 9.00 update, oddly enough, there is no mention of the CMOS fix, it could indicate a change in his attitude towards the legacy platforms of PlayStation. Since the backward compatibility of PS5 is (so far) limited to PS4 titles and the PS Now streaming library of games has not been fundamentally redesigned, it would be a welcome move to push an update that fixes the CMOS problem on PS3 as well. .
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