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Firmware 3.21

Vita Firmware Update 1.65 Out Now [UPDATE]

Jonathan Lester
Firmware 3.21, PS Vita, Update

Vita Firmware Update 1.65 Out Now [UPDATE]

BREAKING NEWS: Sony has pulled Update v.1.65 from their servers due to a "technical fault." If you've already got it, you can continue as normal until a patched version is released.

PS Vita Firmware version 1.65 has released today, and features such exciting minor enhancements as a notification alert option, a new ten minute power saving setting and CAPS LOCK ON THE VIRTUAL KEYBOARD. Sorry. You can update your Vita either by running 'System Update' from the settings menu or connecting to a PC/PS3 via content manager.

Click here for the 'exciting' - very minor - new features >>

From The US Airforce's Beef With Sony To BT's Deal With OnLive - News Roundup 13th May 2010

Matt Gardner
BT, Firmware 3.21, Google, Linux, News, OnLive, Sony, Yakuza

PS3 Firmware Update Frustrating For Airforce

ps3 cluster

Sony should have seen this one coming really. After all, back in 2006 the PS3 managed to excite a good number of people who weren't gamers thanks to the much lauded ability to harness the power of multiple PS3s to essentially create mini supercomputer clusters with the help of the IBM Cell processor.

Ars Technica reports, however, that the recent firmware update to remove the OtherOS option which allowed the running of Linux as an operating system to enable such operations, which has received no small amount of backlash not to mention several class-action lawsuits, has also rubbed several larger groups the wrong way too...including the US Airforce.

As one representative noted:

'We will have to continue to use the systems we already have in hand. [However] this will make it difficult to replace systems that break or fail. The refurbished PS3s also have the problem that when they come back from Sony, they have the firmware (gameOS) and it will not allow Other OS, which seems wrong. We are aware of class-action lawsuits against Sony for taking away this option on systems that used to have it.'

It's not an immediate concern, as the Airforce's clusters aren't linked up to the PSN, negating the need for the firmware update...yet. But we're betting that we haven't heard the last of this, after all, removing functionality that people have paid for is a bad thing. [1UP]

Yakuza PSP Named, Dated & Trailered

Yesterday came reports that the Yakuza series' jump to the PSP has been officially named and dated by director Toshihiro Nagoshi. Originally hiding under the moniker Project K, the PSP game has now been named Kurohyu: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou, which roughly translates to Black Leopard: A New Yakuza Chapter and is out in Japan on September 22nd. Check out the massive story-based debut trailer above. It's got us excited, why not tell us what you think in the comments box. [VG247]

Google To Retry Entry Into The Games Industry?


Google and games have  neverreally gone hand in hand. Their attempts to create a virtual world service - the ill-fated Lively - was dead in under six months. But news comes to us now, courtesy of Develop, that the company is now looking for a 'project management leader, games' which might suggest a renewed focus.

Have a read of the job role description below:

The Product Management Leader, Games will be a flexible, results-oriented, and experienced senior leader who will be responsible for developing Google's games commerce product strategy and partnering to build and manage the business with a cross-functional team. You will have visionary product insight, combined with experience in the online content business, significant technical expertise and extensive leadership and business skills. The Product Management Leader, Games combines a great instinct for developing compelling products with a strong focus on users and technical aptitude to work with a world class engineering team and the business sense to drive product goals and strategies.

Sound like generic jargon? yeah, that's what we thought. But lower down, under 'Requirements', it reads that the applicant should have 'experience building an online gaming business both on the web and on mobile devices. Deep understanding of the game business and how to create hits.' To us that suggests a future foray into the world of casual online gaming dominated at present by Zynga and Playfish, whether or not it'll be successful only time can tell. Watch this space for more. [1UP]

BT Gains Exclusive UK Bundle Rights To OnLive


Much as the title might suggest a load of broadband enthusiasts having an enormous pile-up, what this actually means is that BT have entered into a commercial arrangement with cloud-based games distributor OnLive that will see the telecoms company nab a 2.6% stake in OnLive and also exclusive rights to bundle the service with its broadband packages in the UK. Gavin Patterson, BT Retail's CEO had this to say on the matter:

'Entertainment is going to be at the heart of what we offer customers in the future [...] The partnership with OnLive complements our existing BT Vision service. It's great for our customers - they'll have access to a huge catalogue of games, available instantly on their TV or PC without expensive hardware. [...] And it's great for BT - it will enhance our premium broadband position and we'll be entering into a market that's worth more than £2 billion.'

As OnLive prepares to launch this summer, receiving a due date at this year's GDC of June 17th, no doubt the buzz will start snowballing and it's not just BT who's excited about this. Patterson's counterpart at OnLive, Steve Perlman, views 'BT as the ideal UK partner. As gamers are moving increasingly to online game distribution, OnLive delivers video games as a pure form of online media, playable instantly on almost any video-capable device attached to the internet. The implications are nothing short of transformative to video games and in time, all interactive media. OnLive is delighted to be pioneering this revolutionary technology in the UK together with BT.'
Fighting talk indeed, but how excited are you guys by services such as OnLive and Gaikai? The broad theory is certainly attractive, but are we ready for it? Drop us a line or two with your thoughts below. [GamesIndustry.biz]

From OtherOS Refund to Pokemon Reveal - News Roundup 9th April 2010

Jonathan Lester
Firmware 3.21, Gears of War 3, Pokémon, PS3

Pokemon Black and White to be Revealed April 15th

pokemon blackwhite

Nintendo have announced that the next true Pokemon sequels will be entitled Black and White. Whilst they're not giving much away, my rudimentary knowledge of Japanese suggests that more beans will be spilled on April 15th. Black and White will also be released on the DS rather than the 3DS, though it will naturally be backwards-compatible.

After the excellent remake of Gold and Silver, Nintendo will be under pressure to deliver a revolutionary Pokemon experience rather than another retread of familiar ground. Frankly, the DS could probably support a Pokemon Stadium-style 3D battle system... but knowing GAME FREAK, they'll probably just introduce a Light type to counter Dark types. Pokemon Ebony and Ivory would've been a more interesting name, mind. Stevie Wonder, I choose you! [Pokemon B&W reveal]

PS3 Owner Nets Partial Refund for OtherOS Removal


The recent removal of OtherOS with system update 3.21 has been causing an inordinate amount of controversy, but a PS3 owner has apparently received a full refund because the neutered console isn't fit for task. Using European Directive 1999/44/EC (which states that  goods "must
be fit for the purpose which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of purchase.”), the irked Sony customer was able to net an £84 refund from Amazon without needing to return the console.

This could well set a worrying precedent for Sony, though customer protection is much weaker in the States than Europe. Expect to see a fair few class action suits in the coming months. Apparently, OtherOS is worth £84. [Playstation University]

In other 3.21 news, Geohot (the prolific hacker that was arguably responsible for Sony's knee-jerk reaction) has rigged up some custom firmware to salvage OtherOS. Looks like he made good on his promise.

Gears of War 3 Dated April 2011

gears 3

Let's face it: we all know that Gears 3 is in the pipeline. After all, we were promised a trilogy... and the 360 needs this exclusive as badly as Suda51 needs a padded studio with adequate bathroom facilities. Rumours have been flying around the internet for the last few days (sparked by an abortive Jimmy Fallon interview), but an impatient tech at Xbox Live HQ has jumped the gun by releasing a dashboard advert.

A picture tells a thousand words. Expect Gears 3 to hit this time next year. [Kotaku]

Game Buzz 9: Among Thieves - Hardware, Hacking and Histrionics

Matt Gardner
Features, Firmware 3.21, Game Buzz, Geohot, Hacking, PS3

Game-Buzz Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. This week, we take a look at Sony's recent firmware update, the controversial removal of the 'OtherOS' option and ask whether or not we should really care.

Several people I know thought it was an early April Fools joke - an update that removes features rather than adding them - but no, Sony has decided to crack down hard on people look to exploit cracks in its system. Although no-one from the big bad corporation has actually released a statement to the effect (all Sony said was that the update was due to 'security concerns'), or even acknowledged the young prodigy's existence, I would assume that this crackdown is due in no small part to George Hotz's (Geohot) successful attempt to finally hack the PS3 and gain access to the console's hypervisor, giving him read/write access over the system memory and enabling full access to the meaty processing power that lies beneath the shiny obsidian plastic casing of the PS3. He completed his breakthrough in January at which point, considering that it had taken 3 years, 2 months and 11 days for someone to work out a way of hacking the console, a fair few media hubs began taking note.

Understandably, perhaps, considering that Geohot admitted that his hack could be exploited for piratical - no not the Johnny Depp/Geoffrey Rush kind - purposes, Sony were rather less than amused. Back in February a new patent from a Sony employee came to light that looked like  Geohot countermeasure:

"A method, system, and computer-usable medium are disclosed for controlling unauthorized access to encrypted application program code. Predetermined program code is encrypted with a first key. The hash value of an application verification certificate associated with a second key is calculated by performing a one-way hash function. Binding operations are then performed with the first key and the calculated hash value to generate a third key, which is a binding key. The binding key is encrypted with a fourth key to generate an encrypted binding key, which is then embedded in the application. The application is digitally signed with a fifth key to generate an encrypted and signed program code image. To decrypt the encrypted program code, the application verification key certificate is verified and in turn is used to verify the authenticity of the encrypted and signed program code image. The encrypted binding key is then decrypted with a sixth key to extract the binding key. The hash value of the application verification certificate associated with the second key is then calculated and used with the extracted binding key to extract the first key. The extracted first key is then used to decrypt the encrypted application code." Read the full patent here.

[via HaxNetwork]

The infamous Geohot

The infamous Geohot

Needless to say, it didn't really work.

Far better, therefore it would seem, to cut off one's nose to spite one's face, or throw the baby out with the bath water, or burn down the house when the...you get the idea. Sony have pulled the plug on OtherOS with a firmware update, clamping down on abusers and ruining the party for legitimate Linux users because of 'security concerns'. Displaying a masterclass of pitfall circumvention, Sony naturally made the firmware update optional, but put some rather nasty little caveats for unco-operative users:

"Consumers and organizations that currently use the “Other OS” feature can choose not to upgrade their PS3 systems, although the following features will no longer be available:

  • Ability to sign in to PlayStation Network and use network features that require signing in to PlayStation Network, such as online features of PS3 games and chat
  • Playback of PS3 software titles or Blu-ray Disc videos that require PS3 system software version 3.21 or later
  • Playback of copyright-protected videos that are stored on a media server (when DTCP-IP is enabled under Settings)
  • Use of new features and improvements that are available on PS3 system software 3.21 or later

For those PS3 users who are currently using the “Other OS” feature but choose to install the system software update, to avoid data loss they first need to back-up any data stored within the hard drive partition used by the “Other OS,” as they will not be able to access that data following the update."

So no games, movies or PSN for you and if you have been using OtherOS, legally or not, you'll have to grab yourself an external hard-drive to back up all your stuff just in case. The modding community have, as one could have anticipated, turned round with tongue lashings of fire and brimstone, and not just for Sony. Geohot himself has come under serious fire too.

Click here to find out why FW 3.21 sucks...