PS3Jailbreak – is it necessary? Could it be something positive?

So the video game news outlets have been following the recent run of details regarding the PS3Jailbreak (and clone) devices on the tip of hitting the market. This poses some interesting questions.

First up is legitimacy. In the past, I’ve been an advocate for getting into the guts of your console and modding it – this could be for adding better a/v outputs, controlling the refresh rates (50hz/60hz), and breaking open region protection. Cue up the PS3 then – all the AV outputs I need, standard refresh rate, reasonably good media playback (with transcoding sorting out the rest, albeit a bit messy), easy backup of the whole system to an external device, out of the box 2.5″ HDD swapping and, most importantly, region-free.

Let’s go back to that last point – region-free.

So, most of the boxes are ticked, especially that last one – I’ve been actively importing my games since the Saturn era when I first got the internet at home and the gaming world opened its doors, and the fact that the PS3 is region-free by default and that the SATA drive can be expanded on demand? Perfect.

So for me personally, I have no need for modding my PS3. I mean, even in terms of the cost of gaming, this is easily the cheapest generation for gaming. With the competition introduced from the discount cycles from specialist and general retailers, readily available imports and favourable exchange rates, it is comparably very cheap to game this generation. Compare even brand new RRPs of $110 for a new PS3 blockbuster, and compare that to the early-mid 90s where the average cart would set you back $100. I can even list specifics – Sonic 3: $140; Super Street Fighter 2: $180; Virtua Racing: $200. Take into consideration inflation, and it’s pretty clear that prices in this generation are extremely favourable if you shop around.

So, given how open the PS3 is, is it necessary? Arguably no, it isn’t, and I base my opinion on the above.

To be honest though, it really isn’t surprising – the moment they took away Linux support out of the box, they raised the ire of their consumer base, but more importantly, they also raised the ire of the Linux community, who are notorious for making Linux available on any/all platforms (bless ’em!). I remember thinking that this decision would come back and bite them, and to be honest, I’m not surprised that this has come out of the woodwork post-Linux cancellation. In this regard, Sony have to take a bit of the blame for the knee-jerk reaction they had with removing Linux support. While I never used it, I liked what this symbolised about the PS3, and was disappointed to see it removed.

But so far this has all been negative – so why not look at this as an opportunity? The old mentality with regards to modding has been iron-fisted, and to stamp out change/challenges to the established order. Why not take this opportunity to make a pre-emptive strike against some of the issues users have raised with the PS3? Here’s a few to think about:

  • Re-introduce OtherOS support
  • Improve PSone emulation to add true high resolutions and nice filtering
  • Add PS2 emulation via software
  • Remove regioning for PSone and PS2 games, and for DVDs and BRDs
  • Add the option to install games to the HDD alla the XB360
  • Create homebrew licenses to allow groups to contribute to the PS3 legitimately
  • For the hell of it, make the system compatible with PSP games downloaded via PSN
  • Update the media playback functionality of the machine – MKV, subtitles (embedded or separate), better xvid/div support, etc
  • Introduce some interesting emulators – Neo Geo, CPS2 and CPS3 wouldn’t hurt for example, especially with some nice netcode

Sony pre-empted a lot of the reasons legitimate users traditionally modded their machines by introducing progressively better media playback, excellent backwards compatibility (well, at first), user-serviceable HDDs with out-of-the-box backup to any USB HDD, Linux support, 60hz performance and region-free gaming. Why not continue this attitude by making some progressive steps forward again?

Note that I’m not advocating piracy or any of that nasty business – if I like a game I buy it, and the reason I mod my machines is because of those points I raised in the second paragraph.

Just my $0.02.