By Jared Newman | Monday, September 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm
A recent Playstation 3 firmware update has blocked knock-off Playstation 3 controllers, but not without taking down a few legitimate third-party controllers from Mad Catz.
The Mad Catz controllers that no longer work with the Playstation 3’s latest firmware are the 2008 Wireless PS3 GamePad, 2008 Wired PS3 GamePad and PS3 Wireless MicroCon. Mad Catz will replace the controllers if they’re within the standard warranty of five years, GamesIndustry.biz reports, so anyone who acts before 2012 should be fine.
Why Sony is cracking down on counterfeit Playstation 3 controllers now is unclear. Sony’s official line is that fake controllers have been spotted in the market, and they’re prone to igniting or exploding.
Recent attempts to hack the PS3 might also explain the move; one “jailbreak,” called PSGroove, could use all kinds of modified USB devices (even a TI-84 calculator) to break down Sony’s defenses. The latest firmware update, version 3.50, patched these vulnerabilities, but Sony could now be trying to create a whitelist of approved USB devices to prevent future attacks, GamesIndustry.biz speculates.
Whatever the case, disabling video game hardware with software is a slippery slope. I’m reminded of when Microsoft locked out “unauthorized” third-party memory cards last year, alleging that these cards enabled players to cheat at Xbox Live. Microsoft’s intentions, however noble, left people with unusable memory cards, and no access to their data.
Kudos to Mad Catz for replacing its now-useless controllers from 2008. I’m guessing the cost of doing so is less than whatever lawsuits and other fallout would have occurred otherwise. But the idea that third-party hardware you buy today might get shut out in a few years leaves a bitter taste behind.