Updated: Sep 20
On September 13th, 2021, the LittleBigPlanet 3 servers returned for PlayStation 4 users and were permanently shut down for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. This leaves LittleBigPlanet 3 and Sackboy: A Big Adventure as the only remaining online titles of the LittleBigPlanet and Sackboy franchise. Let's talk about how we got here, what happened, and what's next for LittleBigPlanet. We'll also talk about the future of the LBP Union's Reconnected contest and a brand new event called LBP Reflections.
The LBP Union has been covering the LittleBigPlanet server outage since it began in March. The outages were reported by a number of major media outlets like IGN. Shut down due to a malicious DOS attack on the servers, the team worked behind the scenes to bring us LittleBigPlanet back in April-May. However, the servers had to once again be shut down on May 22nd to prevent malicious scripts from being used from pushing hateful messages to players.
For months, the servers remained offline. Our team developed a brand new server monitor bot for our Discord server, Agent Washington, that can tell us when the servers are online. Thanks to the efforts of our R&D team members Aklnthndr and NyaZero, Agent Washington is now able to provide live server monitoring to our server status dashboard webpage.
At 4:34 AM EDT, Agent Washington detected the LittleBigPlanet server status code changed from 503 to 404. This event preceded the servers coming back online, but what does this mean?
Agent Washington is programmed to check the server status every 30 seconds. It does this by attempting to connect to the server and reporting back the status code. Whenever you visit a website through your web browser, you get an HTTP status code. If the page loads, like this blog post, you get the code '200' which means everything is fine.
However, there are other codes. When the servers are offline, the server reports '503' which means the server is unavailable. However, for 6 minutes the server reported a 404 code. You may recognize this code as being the status of a webpage that is 'not found'.
In the past, this indicated that the servers were online. However, we talked in our last update about how new server security meant that this became much more complicated. If anything, the status change this morning simply meant that something was happening behind the scenes. The developers were working on something, perhaps testing something in preparation for a full deployment.
Official Announcement: Servers Back Online
Finally, at 10:00 AM EDT, the official LittleBigPlanet Twitter account posted this update,
For readers using a screen reader, this is what the text in the tweeted image says,
Firstly, we would like to apologise for the extended downtime of the LittleBigPlanet server and want to thank you al for your patience whilst we worked on this issue.
The good news is that we have just launched Game Update 1.27 and brought the LittleBigPlanet server (and all 10,000,000+ community levels!!) back online for PlayStation 4 users!
Unfortunately, we need to permanently shut down our online services for: LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2, LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS3) and LittleBigPlanet PS Vita.
We have no doubt that this news will come as a big disappointment to a lot of you, ultimately this is the best way to protect the LittleBigPlanet community and to help ensure that our online environment remains safe. Thank you for being a wonderful community and for your continued love and support of all things Sackboy.
Several minutes before the tweet was posted, our status monitor detected that the status code of the servers had once again returned to 404, indicating that the servers were now online.
To be sure of the change, I booted up my PS4 and sure enough I was able to connect to the game's online features.
LittleBigPlanet PS3 and Vita Shut Down
Unfortunately, the LittleBigPlanet team decided that the only way to protect the community from further abuse of the servers was to shut down the PS3 and Vita servers for good. It will take us some time to understand why this is the case, but may be due to the difficulty of pushing a patch for a console this old. PlayStation was considering shutting down the online stores for PlayStation 3 and Vita earlier this year.
What is LittleBigPlanet Game Update 1.27?
In the announcement, the official LittleBigPlanet Twitter account managed by freelance Community Manager Steven Isbell reported that they had released LittleBigPlanet Game Update 1.27. Sure enough, the patch was rolled out to PS4 and PS5 users with LittleBigPlanet 3, but what does it do?
Previously, we speculated that a patch would be necessary to ensure that the console would recognize Sumo Digital's new self-signed security certificate. However, we backtracked on this.
"All they would need to do is take the private key for that root certificate authority and sign a certificate request with it," our lead network developer Aklnthndr writes. This will create a valid trusted server certificate that they can install on the LBP servers without ever needing to issue a client-side patch."
Put more simply, a patch wouldn't be necessary to restore service. So what did they do? It's possible that the patch helped to blacklist script uploads from the client, as well as other security measures to help keep the servers safe.
The Future of LittleBigPlanet on PlayStation 3 and Vita
Today marks the end of an era for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, the LittleBigPlanet servers for these two consoles have been permanently shut down. With no official way to play the game online, this means that players will only be able to play single player parts of the game from now on.
If players would like to play community levels, they can download them from community-curated archives like the LittleBigArchive. They can also share level backup files with eachother via other file sharing methods like pasting download links to our forum.
However, the good news is that all levels from LittleBigPlanet 1, 2, and 3 created on PlayStation 3 that are published to the server are still available to play from LBP 3 PS4.
Although not very accessible to the general public, private servers for LittleBigPlanet titles have existed for some time. However, for right now, these servers are only accessible by through CFW jailbreaking your PlayStation 3 or using an emulator.
"CFW stands for custom firmware." One of our R&D team members, AshifterTGT writes. "This is third party, modified system software for the PlayStation 3 which allows the execution of unsigned code on the system. This basically means that you can create custom applications, mods, and get access to the system without Sony's permission."
With this in mind, it's possible that private servers can be made more accessible to the public. The LBP Union's Research and Development team is currently exploring our options for bringing safe, secure, and easily accessible private servers for PlayStation 3 and possible PlayStation Vita LittleBigPlanet titles. We will have more information for you about LBP Union Private Servers in the future.
In March, we announced a new contest to celebrate the return of the LittleBigPlanet servers. However, it was forced to be postponed due to server outages. Although the contest has been sidelined for some time, we haven't forgotten about it.
Since PlayStation 3 titles are no longer available, things are going to get a lot harder. The contest was meant to celebrate the servers coming back online, but this is a bit of bittersweet news for those who have worked on projects on LBP1, 2, and 3 for PS3.
Because of this, we will only pick winners from the contest who publish their entries on LBP3 PS4. However, we want to celebrate the work that you've put in over these months and over the years that LBP has existed in a new