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PlayStation 3 Firmware Update Temporarily Grounds Lighthouse Beta Testing

To the surprise of many PlayStation fans, a surprise system firmware update is being rolled out to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita devices as of May 10th. This update disabled the ability to create PlayStation Network accounts, but there is more to the story. This update has brought the vast majority of our Project Lighthouse LittleBigPlanet custom server beta testing project to a screeching halt. Let's talk about what the update does and where we go from here.

What is a Firmware Update?

Occasionally, computers need to be updated to fix bugs, add new features, and make other changes. It's actually quite interesting that the PlayStation 3 is still receiving software updates after 16 years since its original launch! The PlayStation Vita was released in late 2011, meaning it's still receiving software updates after about 10 or 11 years.

The last time the PlayStation 3 was 11 months ago on June 4th, 2021 with update 4.88 during the midst of the LittleBigPlanet server shutdown crisis.

PS3 4.89 and PS Vita 3.74

On May 10th, 2022, the PlayStation 3 and Vita updates were rolled out. The official update page on their website was also updated. The update only requires about 200 MB of free storage space to complete.

A PS3 system screen ready to install version 4.89
Image by LBPU Lead Developer LoganTGT

The most notable change of the update is the fact that the PlayStation 3 no longer supports creating PSN accounts and some account management features.

To create a PSN account, users will have to go online to create one. To login to PSN, users will have to generate a 'device password'. This is a one-time-setup key that a user can create while signed into PSN on their computer. This helps keep your account and PSN services more secure. You will only have to do this once.

Generate or manage device setup passwords
The PlayStation device setup password manager.

Bad News for Lighthouse

This software update is bad news for the Union Space Corps (USC). The USC is the LBP Union's Project Lighthouse LittleBigPlanet custom server beta testing team working on testing our instance of the server. This morning at 8:45 AM EDT, USC Starblazer Turecross posted this update informing the team of the update and its effect on our project:

Sony just released new system software updates for both the PS3 and PS Vita.   What this means for Lighthouse is that you will not be able to connect on PS3, whether you choose to update, or stay on 4.88 until new CFW/HFW comes out.   On the Vita side, you can simply spoof the firmware in the Henkaku settings, and continue playing like normal from what I've gathered.

As one of the leaders of the Union Space Corps team, Turecross works weekly to help new Cadets connect to Lighthouse so that they can be promoted to the Scout rank to assist the beta testing effort. I asked Turecross about some of the details to help understand why the new PlayStation 3 and Vita software update affects our work.

"PSN does not let users log in if their PS3 is not on the latest system version," Turecross explains. "Custom or hybrid firmware is required to run games with modified EBOOT.BIN files (like LittleBigPlanet with Lighthouse). Since there are currently no custom/hacked firmware versions for the 4.89 update, there's no way to run those modified files."

Lighthouse Beta Testing Pause

According to USC Starblazer Arcadius, "basically half of the beta testing team just straight up cannot test anymore." In fact, 68% of the Union Space Corps used PlayStation 3 hardware in March 2022.

Toffi, a Cadet and Deputy Peacekeeper on the LBP Union Discord server, described that he felt "Kinda angry. It took me 1 to 2 hours to download hybrid firmware to my PS3. After the team was able to help me finally get to the point where my game was patched correctly, the system update was rolled out and I wasn't able to play."

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