In a rather worrying development for Sony, it's emerged that teams of amateur programmers have managed to make the PlayStation Portable play pirated copies of commercial games from the Memory Stick slot on the console. The revelation has triggered fears that the PSP could now become a target for widespread piracy.
Allegedly, hackers have already succeeded in making the handheld run a range of 'homebrew' games and emulators, as well as unauthorised code. And recently, the problem has deepened, with the hackers having now made the PSP boot pirate copies of four different games - Coded Arms, Lumines, Archer Maclean's Mercury and Puzzle Bobble. All four can now be downloaded from very naughty pirate sites, and then loaded direct from a high capacity Memory Stick.
The pirated software uses a bug in certain versions of the software that ships with the PSP to circumvent the machine's protection system. However, it looks like PAL versions of the handheld - due for launch on September 1st - will be immune from such illegal shenanigans, with the problem already addressed by Sony in more recent versions of the system software. Infact, SCE UK's PR chief David Wilson was positively glowing with optimism about the situation, arguing that the news that hackers had succeeded was 'yet another string to the bow for arguing against grey imports.'
The only versions of the PSP that are susceptible to this exploit are original Japanese consoles which shipped with the 1.0 firmware, and later Japanese and early American consoles, which shipped with version 1.5. No modification is needed to the hardware.
More news as it breaks.