The new Vita firmware brought some behind the scenes “features”

April 2, 2014

April fools is over, we all had our laughs, but it’s time to move on.
On this subject I want to discuss what hidden “features” and “stability improvements” the new Vita firmwares 3.10/3.12 brought to the table and my overall rant about them from both a hacker’s perspective and a user’s perspective.

Most of you are probably expecting Day two of the 8 Days of Gaming series, but to be honest, I write articles when I have feel enlighten to do so, and right now I feel more enlighten to write about the new Vita firmware.

Over the past years we’ve released countless PSP exploits, both usermode and kernelmode. Up until now Sony’s reaction has been clear: pull the game and patch the exploits in a new firmware update.
Normally when we talk about VHBL exploits the next firmware we get is an infamous “stability improvement” firmware, which we all know means they fixed the exploit. But when kernel exploits are released, Sony usually brings more than one new cool feature to the table, ensuring more people feel entitled to update, but what does the new Vita firmware 3.10 brings on the table that would make most users want to update? and more specifically, why did it take so long to arrive?

I cannot answer the second question easily, as god only knows what the devs behind Sony’s closed doors do when they are assigned the job of updating the firmware. And when it comes to software, doing one thing can be either extremely hard or extremely easy, depending on how the base code has been implemented.

This is a list of the new official features firmware 3.10 brought to us:

– You can now display up to 500 applications on the home screen.

– A Calendar application has been added for PS Vita, allowing you to set up gaming events with your friends. Sync your Google calendar to have all your events with you on your PS Vita. You can also share your favorite events by using the Messages and Email applications.

– A new “Manage Content on Memory Card” option has been added to the Content Manager application. You can now view the data on your memory card, making it easier than ever to manage content on your PS Vita. You can now view memory usage by content type, and delete content and applications.

– You can now send and receive voice messages using the Messages application on PS Vita. Exchange voice messages with your friends and players on PS4 and PS Vita.

– We have enhanced the parental control features. You will be able to restrict PS Store access, and with a children’s age guide for each level it is easier to find the right level for your children. We’ve also added an information guide for TrendMicro web security.

– Adjust Daylight Saving Automatically has been added.

– 30 minutes has been added in Enter Standby Mode Automatically.

– DualShock 4 and PS Mobile support for Vita TV.

Alright, being able to have up to 500 apps is cool, some users that were blessed with enough currency to buy the overly-expensive 64GB memory card were complaining that they had to delete apps to be able to have more content on their system. The new memory card manager feature seems cool, but it’s not really an über awesome feature.

Every other feature there is minor and the overall package doesn’t live up to the expectation some of us had after 4 months of waiting for a response from Sony, other than the usual pulling the game stuff.
A priori, it doesn’t seem like this firmware could have taken them 4 months of work, until hackers made some interesting discoveries when it comes to the pspemu.

You can no longer open files bigger than the game itself, at least for minis, normal PSP games seem not to be affected. it’s common sense, some PSP games make data installs and some have DLC, there’s a possibility that one of those games have problems.

The question as to “why do that?” is obvious, they are desperately trying to patch TN-V, or ISOs at least.
But I have a better question, are they f*cking retarted?

First of all, we are talking about the same people who made the PS2 and should have LEARNED from the PS2 scene.
How does one play PS2 ISOs on the PS2? by either using the internal HDD (Fatty ones) or an external HDD, either way they both have to be formatted in FAT32.
FAT32 you say? need I remind you that FAT32 has a 4GB file size limit? PS2 ISO loaders had to work with ISO files split into different parts.
Did they even think about this? did they even think how easy it would be to just split the files into different parts and modifying the ISO driver would be?

But that’s not even the top of it all, let’s go to the PS3 scene.
The PS3 also uses a FAT32 filesystem, and much like the PS2, it can’t have files bigger than 4GB.
So how do they rip games on the PS3? they just dump the files into a folder in the PS3 and mount that folder as the blu-ray drive.

This brings me to the point I want to make.
Why waste R&D money on something that barely has an impact on the scene?
I want to answer with something my good friend Coldbird once told me: they just want to annoy hackers.

That is find with me, from a developer perspective these sort of things post new challenges and it keep us entertained, but from a user perspective, I can’t stand this anymore.
Instead of making the Vita experience better, adding more feature to an already good-looking but dull OS, improving what’s already there or opening game divisions to bring fun games to the Vita, Sony is wasting the little money they get from Vita sales on annoying at best, useless at worst, security measures rather than investing on trying to bring new people to the Vita world.

We seem to be using this image way too often than we should, which is sad.

We want more games like Tearaway or Little Deviants, games that make good use of the touchscreen and back panel without making them look like annoying gimmicks. We want games that really look like PS3 games, not Uncharted Golden Abyss that looks like Uncharted 1 without all the things that made Uncharted 1 epic.
We want big budget games as well as low budget innovative and fun titles. We want a real and complete portable experience. The PSP was innovative due to having all the games that made the PS2 great and a roundup of features that no other portable system had, nowadays even the lowest budget smartphone has more to offer than the Vita.
I want a firmware update that forces me to update because I like it rather than because it forces m., that is the one and only strategy they should follow against hacks like TN-V, otherwise most people in this forum can happily live with PSP homebrews and some hidden PSP jewels still waiting to be discovered, all filling the void that Sony’s brilliant minds can’t seem to fulfill.

This is another scenario of mismanagement and misuse of the money all Vita owners have invested in a machine that only does another useless firmware update, another useless VHBL patch, another useless “security measure” and another useless feature.

With the Vita Sony was able to fix all the problems that made the PSP a flop. It has good controls, it has excellent graphics, it has better media capabilities (compared with the PSP).
Now it’s the time they have to bring their bug guns, all the games that made the PS2 and PS3 sell.
But focusing on fighting hackers rather than creating content that make most people be up to date with the firmware is not the right way. I can only hope to god they realize their mistake before it’s too late and this nice piece of hardware becomes another flop.

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