Sony has proven that sometimes court victories aren’t enough: sometimes you need to fight fire with fire (or code with code).
The latest firmware update for the PS3 appears to block publicly available code, distributed as PSGroove, that allowed users to jailbreak their console, allowing them to play home-made games (but not boot from ISO files on the hard drive, making game-ripping unworkable.)
The code went online shortly after Sony obtained an injunction in Australia preventing the sale of USB dongles known as PSJailbreak containing the code. That version of the hack did allow for ISO booting and thus full-fledged piracy, which may have made Sony’s legal win easier.
As is usual with PS3 updates, the new firmware (v3.42) isn’t technically a mandatory install and does require the user to click to agree to its installation. However, failing to install it will mean significant limitations to the console’s functionality, most notably a block on online gaming.
Sony hasn’t publicly addressed the details of the PSGroove removal, simply describing the new firmware as bringing “additional security features”. Whether that means security for users against malicious code running on their system, or security for games companies against piracy is a linguistic ambiguity.
As is also usual with PS3 updates, user reaction on the Sony site has mainly been along the lines that it would be nice if Sony brought new features to users rather than merely plug security gaps. One particularly cynical user with the handle “OMGmyFACE” noted “We all know it’s the first of an expected hundred-plus firmware updates to block the Jailbreak… You know it’s never gonna end, right? Firmware update, gets cracked, firmware update, gets cracked, awesome.”