Hackers restore PlayStation TV compatibility that was blocked by Sony

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Simple e-mail exploit lets microconsole play dozens more games.

When we gave our impressions of Sony’s Vita-based PlayStation TV microconsole last year, our biggest complaint was with the tiny unit’s widespread lack of compatibility with existing portable software. Hundreds of games that work just fine on the portable PlayStation Vitajust refused to load on a PlayStation TV. That makes sense for games that make heavy use of the Vita’s camera or rear touchpad, but not for Vita games like Mortal Kombat, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and dozens more portable titles that seem ideal for TV play but are nonetheless incompatible with PlayStation TV.

Now, some enterprising hackers have apparently gone a long way toward fixing this problem by increasing the PlayStation TV’s software compatibility with a simple hack. The method, as outlined on HackInformer, exploits an error in the PlayStation TV’s e-mail app that lets users write files to the system memory by attaching them as fake images in a message. Using this method and a specially built “whitelist” file, players can unlock the ability to play many (but not all) previously incompatible Vita games and apps on their PlayStation TV.

We haven’t been able to test the hack for ourselves yet, but Vita Reviews has a growing list of Vita games and apps that are newly playable on a hacked PlayStation TV system. (That list even includes the Netflix app, in case you don’t have enough devices hooked up to your TV that run Netflix.) The modifications are erased if you connect to PSN, and the entire thing seems likely to be fixed with the next firmware update, but for now, a hacked PlayStation TV is much better than the one you get out of the box.

Considering how easy it was to get these Vita games running on the PlayStation TV, it’s difficult to understand why Sony went to the trouble of disabling them in the first place. The PlayStation TV already lets users simulate the touchscreen and rear touchpad using a DualShock controller, so occasional touch-based mini-games shouldn’t be a big concern (though the Vita’s camera and tilt controls are a different story). A number of Vita titles seem to crash immediately when run on the PSTV through the hack, so perhaps other previously “blacklisted” titles will eventually crash or glitch when running on the more limited PlayStation TV hardware. It will take more testing to figure that out.

In any case, it’s nice to see that PlayStation TV owners now have more control over their own hardware and a bigger library of potential games to play thanks to the efforts of the hacking community. Now if we could just get more downloadable PSP and PS1 titles to work on the little microconsole, we’d really be in business.