Right now, all eyes are on Sony, since after announcing its decision to no longer be able to buy products on the PS3, PSP and PSVita PSN, we have learned about a really tricky issue.

Through information provided by a number of users on the network, we have learned that our PS4 may become unusable in the future if the CMOS battery eventually runs out. A fact that also affects the PS3 and PS Vita, making it impossible to play games in digital format. However, let’s go by parts to make it clear what is happening.

What is the CMOS battery?

The CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) battery, present in PlayStation consoles, and many other devices, allows to maintain a small electric current on the motherboard when it is turned off. If the CMOS battery were to fail, one of the problems it could cause would be the loss of configuration with the BIOS (the system that tells the software how the hardware should work).

In the event that the battery runs out of power, the console will be unable to keep its internal clock active. If at that moment we turn on the device, we will be asked for a date and time, since it will not have kept track of the time while it was turned off.

This battery (usually of the CR2032 type) has an estimated life of 10 years, so it may eventually lead to its replacement.

The issue is that all three consoles will attempt to do this over the internet, connecting to the PSN. Right now, this is not a problem, but questions arise when, in the hypothetical future, Sony decides to hit the power off button for the older digital platforms.

How does this affect PS4, PS3 and PS Vita consoles?

We’re getting ahead of ourselves on a possibility that hasn’t been confirmed, but is plausible for a few years from now. Thanks to the Does it play? Twitter account we can consult some of the most relevant points on this issue. Here is the link to the document with the information.

The problem lies in the fact that as soon as any of the three consoles must connect to its corresponding PSN and cannot, we will not be able to play the games. This point is much more serious for the PS4, as it not only makes it impossible to play digital titles, but also physical ones.

For PS3 and PS Vita there is some respite, since this evil only affects digital downloads, respecting the physical format. But why Sony has made this design decision.

The reason lies behind the trophies, one of the features most valued by PlayStation users. Thanks to the CMOS and its correct synchronization with the console’s internal clock, it prevents any player from changing the system date and pretending that a trophy was obtained at different times.

To demonstrate that the problem is really serious, user Hikikomori Media got hold of a PS3, disassembled it, removed the CMOS battery and tried to play with the console without connecting to the internet. The result was as expected, as he was unable to play any digital artwork, resulting in a request from the system to synchronize the internal clock via the internet.

What are the alternatives?

Currently, the scenario of possible situations are as follows:

a) CMOS battery runs out, but PSN still works.

Your most hopeful future. In this case you would have to find another battery, replace it and connect to PSN to restore normal activity. You would have no more trouble than finding another battery and doing the process yourself.

b) The CMOS battery runs out and PSN does not work either.

The darker future. If you own a PS4, the console would become unusable. You would not be able to do anything with your games and you would be forced to make the jump to a later generation, in this case, PS5.

If you own a PS3 or the PS Vita, you had better have a good physical library, because there would be no way to set a date and time due to the non-existence of a server to connect to.

While the options on the table are worrisome, there is still a possibility, but it’s up to Sony. Tackling the problem would come through a firmware update. The price to pay to continue playing would be the inability to unlock trophies.

Many electronic devices have their own CMOS battery. From computers to cell phones to the latest televisions. However, for these devices all we have to do is buy a better model and forget about the problem.

Because Sony has reduced the only game space for PS3 titles to the PS3 itself, users would have a hard time. Yes, if you own a PS5 (or a future PS6/PS7) and Sony keeps this line of introducing backward compatibility, you will still be able to play games.

However, millions of PS4s will be rendered absolutely useless. Once again, the digital video game landscape opens many doors, but begins to close many others in the past. Sony seems to have forgotten, or does not care much, what happens to its historical catalog.

The task of preserving, conserving and disseminating it is increasingly in the hands of a community that must overcome the obstacles that companies put in its way.


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