PSP Dramas: Accessing the Playstation Store Overseas, Buying from Hong Kong, the Morals of Hacking and the Problems with Usability

October 18th, 2009

psp-header

With the PSPgo almost killing off its potential prospects for a purchase from the get-go*, I’ve finally decided to consider purchasing a PSP of my own, rather than cribbing my brother’s console. Sure enough, I could probably keep pinching his and would likely never need my own, but it’s only fair that I own one myself considering my regular defence of the console.

Besides the reasoning stirred up by the PSPgo, I also think that right now would be the time to invest since before I know it I’ll be living in Shanghai again and in need of something to play. I’ve been up in arms though, unsure whether to buy an older model and hack it so that I can run backups of my UMD games or to buy a regular model and rely on the Playstation Store. Trouble is, will I be able to access the Playstation Store in China?

I forwarded my question to Sony Australia who responded as follows:

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for your recent email.

This can be quite difficult to determine as different countries utilise different Internet providers and setups.

In saying this, you may or may not be able to access the store, depending on what China restricts regarding IP address access.

If China doesn’t restrict access, then you should be able to use and access the Australian PlayStation Network Store.

Hopefully they above helps.

Regards,

So technically yes, but, of course, it depends on China’s IP filter. Hmmm…considering that this site has just recently been blocked from the mainland (happy 60th by the way), it’s difficult to be certain. Still, if you need it (I found Google and foruming to be of little help on this matter) then there is your answer.

As for my decision? I’ve imported a new PSP 2000 from Hong Kong which arrived, as of editing, yesterday. Kinda ironic, huh? Pretty risky too, right? Well let me explain a little.

Importing from Hong Kong

Firstly, as by my research, all PSPs, bar those of Japanese origin, are manufactured in China so hardware-wise an Australian PSP is effectively the same as a Hong Kong PSP. Secondly, PSP games and media (bar UMD movies) are region free with the one concession being that firmware updates and add-on content are region based. This presents a paradox. If I’m looking to hack the console then this wouldn’t matter anyways since additional content must be downloaded from the Playstation Store and access to the Playstation Store requires a firmware update which in turn patches the system and won’t allow hacking. Considering the little amount of add-on content for PSP games, it’s hardly a problem. Plus, I always have my brother’s console. Thirdly, Cantonese language isn’t an issue; don’t forget English is also an official language of Hong Kong, they were originally an English colony. Fourthly, the power supply as by pictures appears to use the 2-prong Chinese plugs. If I’ll be living in China this is fine, but anyways, with the deal I nabbed my PSP comes with a separate USB cable which also doubles as a charger. And finally, common sense. Yes, we westerners like to assume that everything Asian is shady, fake, brain-washed, of poor quality…bah! I say. Whether or not this is true is of no importance though—the truth is if you buy smart then you’ll buy well.

psp playstation portable console

I bought my PSP from eBay from a professional seller which openly sold consoles and games from the region. Their page provided sufficient photos of the box, but most importantly of all they had 15,000+ sales to their name with an almost 100% positive reputation. On checking the feedback page many of these buyers had bough consoles too and were perfectly content. Did I mention that I also got it $AUD90 cheaper than the overpriced Australian RRP (including shipping)?

The Ethics of Hacking

This is simple enough. I have two intentions for hacking my PSP. The first is so I don’t have to carry a stack of UMDs with me to China. This saves me the inconvenience, danger (theft) and possibly cost (travel insurance) of taking my UMDs over. The second is to emulate a handful of NES games which no longer work (or work long enough to play) in their cartridge form. I’m also considering using the device to emulate games which are outside of general purchase. That is, they never were released over here, cost too much or no longer work.

Piracy is against my moral code, I simply wish to access the content I have already purchased which, as we know, Sony can’t offer a decent solution for. Sony have completely cocked up with the usability of this device and to a lesser extent the PS3. They haven’t set up the infrastructure for owners of physical copies to have a digital equivalent of their content (even if they have to pay a concession for it).

They’ve made transferring media a lesson in failed proprietary software. Installing Mediago (their PSP media management software) on my computer required Quicktime and various additional components. Overall it took an hour to install everything! Even once I had the software installed it still couldn’t connect to the Playstation Store through the PC.

User accounts are the same, I recently bought Rock Band Unplugged and downloaded it to my brother’s PSP. My brother then went to download Still Alive, the free track from Portal, and was locked out of the game as the PSN accounts didn’t match. Umm…thanks for that.

Then there’s the fact that the PSP RSS feeder doesn’t update, the browser is slow and loads broken pages, the system tells you to update your firmware but doesn’t provide a prompt and lastly, the system allows you to download firmware and then once it’s downloaded alerts you that you don’t have the space to install it, so you must clear space and download again!!

As far as I see it, I’m simply taking matters into my own hands. I’ll let you know how my experience fairs in a future post.

*That was no a subliminal marketing ploy.

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