Earlier this year, Sony made the extremely unpopular announcement that it would be closing the digital stores for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, removing any way to buy digital goods for those systems. Unsurprisingly, it sparked a lot of blowback—despite their age, both systems still have passionate and active user bases, and a lot of the games and DLC available for them are only available digitally. The backlash was enough to make Sony reverse the decision, with President Jim Ryan admitting that “it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here” and promising that PS3 and Vita digital sales would continue for the foreseeable future.
It turns out, there’s a catch: while purchases will continue on those systems for the forseeable future, from October 27, the only way to top up your store wallet through the consoles themselves will be with prepaid cards, for credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal, you’ll have to use visit the PlayStation Store in your browser, PS App, PlayStation 4, or PlayStation 5 to top up your wallet, and then go back to the old system to make the purchase.
Here’s the full text of a change to PS3 and Vita store purchases that just landed in my inbox:
Starting October 27th, 2021, you can no longer use a credit or debit card, or a payment method such as PayPal, to buy digital content or add funds to your wallet when visiting PlayStation™Store on your PS3 or PS Vita.
How do you purchase digital content now?
Should you wish to buy digital content for your PS3 or PS Vita, you must first add sufficient funds to your wallet. You can add funds by redeeming a PlayStation Store gift card via your PS3 or PS Vita, or by using a credit or debit card, PayPal or other available payment method using a desktop or mobile device, or a PS4 or a PS5 console.
To add funds to your wallet using a credit card or debit card, PayPal or other available payment method:
1) Access PS Store via your desktop computer, mobile device, PS4 or PS5 console.
2) Use a credit or debit card, PayPal or other available payment method to add the minimum amount required to your wallet to cover the cost of the content you want to buy. You can also add funds to your wallet by redeeming a PlayStation Store gift card.
Is there any other way to buy digital PS3 or PS Vita content?
No, you can only buy digital PS3 and PS Vita content by adding funds to your wallet as described above, then accessing PS Store directly from your PS3 or PS Vita.
In fairness, the PS3 and Vita stores never had the best user experiences, but one thing you could at least count on was the absolute bare minimum functionality for an online store: to add some stuff to your cart, go to the checkout, pay for it, then download your goods. From October 27, that won’t be the case—you’ll still technically be able access the PlayStation Store on PS3 and Vita to buy things, but not without jumping through extra hoops just to be able to hand over the money.
All this move tells me is that, despite Jim Ryan talking a big game about “[keeping] this piece of our history alive for gamers to enjoy” in reversing the decision to shut down the stores (and only when his back was against the wall and there was really no other choice), it was little more than lip service. This is a company that has repeatedly demonstrated that it has absolutely no interest in the historical worth of its own legacy—that sees games as nothing but content that loses all relevance as soon as it drops off the cutting edge of technology—and this move is just another example of that.
But when you appoint as CEO the guy who said “the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?”, you can’t really expect anything else.
Update: corrected this article to make clear that this change applies to credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal, and that prepaid store cards can still be used.