Did Sony lose the “know-how” on the PSP?

October 17, 2012

The Vita is progressively pushing its older sister out of the picture, and even though Japan is still seeing a few releases for the PSP, it is clear now that Sony is focusing on the Vita and the PS3. More than 2 weeks after the leak of a PSP Kernel exploit inside the Vita’s PSP emulator, followed by the release of an eCFW by Total_Noob (which, technically, enables PSP piracy on the Vita), no update on the horizon.

Back in the days of the PSP, it was not unusual to see each Kernel exploit followed by a firmware patch from Sony within a few days. This time, although Total_Noob revealed his Kernel exploit 2 weeks ago, we have yet to see firmware 1.82 and its obligatory “stability improvements”.

Now, the situation is not that bad for Sony. First, even though the Kernel exploit is potentially still here, Sony’s services were relatively quick to remove the exploited games involved with the hack. To clarify once again, the games are not where the Kernel exploit lies, they are just an entry point to the exploit, through a User mode exploit. What this means is that the exploit is still here on 1.81, and anybody with a new user mode exploit could get access to it (for those who missed both the Urbanix and the Mad blocker alpha exploits). Technically, Sony is still in “danger” of seeing more people getting access to this exploit, until the next firmware revision.

Some people close to Sony have told me numerous times that Sony don’t really care about the PSP emulator on the Vita, which is way they don’t care too much about patching those exploits… and yet, surely the amount of money they’re getting from PSP sales on the PSN from Vita owners must not be negligible… Well after all maybe it is (I estimate that less than 3% of Vita owners have access to TN’s Kernel exploit), and maybe that’s why they don’t care too much about fixing it too fast?

But I have another theory: isn’t it possible that Sony has lost some critical Know-how on the PSP? As their engineers moved to the Vita, with a different CPU architecture, a whole new Kernel and firmware systems, surely the PSP-dedicated teams must be shrinking, and so does the knowledge of the system. I’m of course making a wild guess here, but could it explain why they decided to patch the Monster Hunter exploit directly from the Vita, rather than doing it inside the PSP Emulator, like they had done so far? Is it that running QA on the PSP emulator ads too much overhead in a new firmware, that they are afraid to touch the PSP firmware when they do a new release?

This is again a wild theory absolutely not based on insider info, but from what I have been told by the people who have looked into Kermit and other PSP-emulator related stuff inside the Vita, the people who implemented the PSP emulator on the Vita did not seem to be really aware of how the security works on the PSP, making some critical mistakes along the way.

Between that, the relatively long waiting time for the yet-to-be-seen firmware 1.82, and the “let’s patch the vita OS rather than the PSP firmware for PSP exploits” attitude, I am wondering if Sony has progressively lost technical knowledge on their own device, as their engineer teams moved on to other projects…

Do you guys think it might be possible today that some hackers actually know much more about the PSP than Sony themselves?

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