Blast from the past

PS3 and Vita downloadable games have ‘expired,’ and fans are upset

Players are no longer able to play certain downloadable games on their PlayStation 3 and Vita consoles, and it's not clear why.

What if you downloaded an old Steam favorite, only for the game to inform you that it had "expired" in the intervening years? That's exactly the situation that some PlayStation players faced this week when they sat down to play the original Final Fantasy VI on their PS3 consoles, only to find that those versions no longer worked.

To illustrate the problem, Twitter user Christopher Foose posted an image of his Chrono Cross download to social media, which apparently expired all the way back in 12/31/1969. As far as we can tell, this seems to be a technical shortcoming rather than intended behavior, as those sorts of dates on video game consoles are usually the result of a glitch. It's also worth noting that this issue only seems to happen if you re-download these games, too.

We don't know the full extent of what games are affected by this issue, but it seems to impact mostly legacy titles, like Gex: Enter the Gecko, Chrono Trigger, and the aforementioned Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Some have reported much more wide-ranging issues, however, including their entire digital libraries being rendered unplayable by the dreaded curse of 1969.

As Kotaku points out, the issue appears to have something to do with the Unix epoch, which is a moment in time that computers use as an arbitrary point to measure how much time has passed. The Unix epoch is January 1, 1970, which you have probably noticed is the day after the date shown in the error message. It seems that the bug has caused these expiration dates to be set at that moment.

Though it's an obvious glitch, it's unclear if Sony will do anything about it. After all, the company tried to close down both the PS3 and Vita stores in 2021, only to reverse course after fans express anger at the move.