It seems I don’t exactly have the best luck with video game hardware lately. My 360’s USB ports seem to be on the fritz, my Wii has graphical glitches that seem to stem from WiiConnect24 (a story which I somehow missed back in 2007), and my PSP? Well, other than the one that just flat-out died in its first year, my replacement has been pretty fine!
The system has not gotten a whole lot of use over the previous year, last being the system of choice for a play-through of the original Suikoden. I have been amassing a bunch of PSP games (along with lots of cheap PS1 games via PSN) though, so I decided to pick up a 16GB memory stick to load up, which arrived a couple days ago.
Since tossing a 320GB drive into my PS3, I have greatly enjoyed using it as the central location for the entire PlayStation family (which is… well, really just the PS3 itself and the PSP for now) — I keep every single game I have purchased over PSN right there on the system without having to worry about juggling content due to limited hard drive space. That includes things like ~35 PS1 games, a crap-ton of free Minis, Neutopia for the PCEngine/TG-16, and the two free PSP games I got as a part of the “Welcome Back” program last year (LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers).
One of the features I have always liked so much about the tight integration with the two Sony platforms is the ability to play PS1 games on both systems with just a single purchase, and freely copy games and save files between them. With PSN being prone to massive slowdowns and bottlenecks (even with the magic of FiOS!), it has always made the most sense for me to just keep it all on the PS3, hook the PSP up to it via USB when necessary, and copy stuff over — it is far more efficient and painless than loading up the PlayStation Store on the PSP itself, navigating the store or my download history, and individually selecting things to re-download from there.
So imagine my surprise when I could not copy things over to my PSP the other night. There was simply no “Copy” option (navigate on the XMB to the item you want, press “Triangle”, select “Copy” when the PSP is hooked up and in USB mode; you can do the same thing with video and audio files when, for example, a USB stick is hooked up). That was… weird, to say the least.
Those familiar with the PSN download process know that, unlike over on the 360, the PS3 separates the “download” and the “install” of items. If you download an item from the store and let it be (without going to background downloading to putt around elsewhere), it will finish the download, and then immediately install the item. If you go elsewhere, however, the download file will sit in a type of “bubble”-icon within the “Games” section of the XMB — pressing the “X” button on this will “install” the game and place it into the appropriate folder (PS3 games, PS1 games, Minis, etc.).
I had a couple different types of files available to me, so I started experimenting. Could I press “Triangle” and then “Copy” a PS1 game already installed like I use to be able to? Nope. Could I do it with the Dissidia Duodecim Prologus Final Fantasy files (game + Aerith assist) that I had downloaded the prior day, which were sitting in a “bubble” above the folders? Yes. Could I do it with the three PS1 Syphon Filter games I downloaded for free the prior day as a part of PS+, which were also still sitting in their own “bubble” icons, not-yet-installed? Nope. Was the copy option there with Neutopia? Nope. Was it there for any of the Minis? Nope.
How about the PSP software from the “Welcome Back” program (which was not in a “bubble”, but filed in its respective PSP folder)? Yes, the option was there, but would result in an error message:
My next thought was that somehow I had too many systems “registered” with my online identity — I did have another PSP, after all (the one sent back to me was a replacement, not a fixed version of the same exact one I sent back). After slogging around the main us.playstation.com website and knowledge base, I ended up over on the account.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com website. From here, I was able to see that I had three systems “activated” with Sony and tied to my online ID: one PS3, and two PSPs. One of them was clearly the old system, which of course had been activated and tied to the account, but I no longer had physical possession of.
This, as I would correctly figure out, all ties in to a new policy Sony put in place this past November: the amount of systems that could be “activated” and tied to an account to play downloaded games would be decreased from five to two.
PS3: Users will be able to play the game on up to 2 activated PS3 systems.
PSP: Users will be able to play the game on up to 2 activated PSP systems.
Even then, the policy was confusing. What about things like PS1 games that were playable on both systems? Was that one PS3 system and one PSP system (equal to two total systems), or one PS3 system and two PSP systems, since that still restricted it to two systems of the same type? It went on to be clarified that the new policy was only applicable to new downloads you made after the November 18th cut-off — things you downloaded prior to that could still be played on the five-system limit.
Plenty of my content had been downloaded prior to that November 18th cut-off (things like Suikoden on the PS1, which had still been sitting there the whole time, and which I had transferred via the USB method from PS3-to-PSP a year prior), but that “Copy” option was inexplicably no longer there.
The next thing I tried was simply logging onto the PlayStation Store directly on the PSP, and checking my account information. All good there, with an accurate download history as well (though entirely out of chronological order, which is another mess for another day). I could even re-download things with no problem (such as Grandia for the PS1, which I had recently grabbed during its $2.99 sale). So it was not like I could not use content on my PSP at all, but the break-down point was clearly between the PS3 and the PSP.
It is here that we circle back to those three activated systems. Even with older-downloaded content, I wanted to check to see if perhaps having three systems was the problem. I tried to simply “activate” the PSP right on the system itself (“Account Management” –> “Activate System”). The error message: 80109D80.
Huh. OK. The new customer site allows you to remotely deactivate your systems, though you have to do it in one fell swoop, and cannot individually pick a system to deactivate. That was fine — I would just deactivate them all, and then re-activate the PS3 and PSP that I own and have in my possession. That seemed like the cleanest way to start fresh with the systems I truly, actually, physically had right in front of me and could fully account for.
It went fine for the first few steps. The deactivation went well, and I was able to activate the PS3 immediately. The PSP would not activate, however — not through the PS3 when hooked up over USB (“Account Management” –> “Activate System” –> “PSP System”), nor directly on the PSP. The following error message popped up each time and in each location: 80109D80.
OK, weird yet again. I tried a few more times (and attempted to look up the error messages on Sony’s own website, which was not even listed in their database!), and decided it was time for a call to PlayStation customer support.
The phone call was ~45 minutes in total. Probably ~10 of that was the initial maneuvering through automated prompts and being placed on hold for a live support representative. When I finally got through, “Joe” was totally awesome — very personable, very understanding, very knowledgeable, and very quick to compliment me on actually knowing what I was doing and talking about at every opportunity he could (I can only imagine the crazies that call in).
I explained the whole situation, and as expected, the 80109D80 error code was not listed in his database, either. We tried a bunch of basic stuff first (check that the online ID is actually the same on both systems, restore the PSP to factory settings, try reactivating the system again, try different types of content again). I asked if attempting to activate a system so many times would raise some security flag. Joe asked how many times I had tried (I dunno… maybe 10?), and replied that if I had tried so many times, one more was not going to hurt — indeed, we kept getting the same 80109D80 error code. At some point Joe suggested that, if re-downloading on the PSP worked, I should just stick with that option. That was unacceptable to me, though, since I no longer had a feature that had always been available to me, and it was far more convenient to copy from the PS3 than to navigate to the store on the PSP and individually select each item to re-download.
Joe eventually decided that we reached the limit of what he knew and could do, so he asked if I would be willing to wait around 10 minutes for the next level up of a specialist. “Sure, why the Hell not?” I was only on hold for maybe one minute before Joe came back on:
“You’re not going to believe how we can fix this.” (well, something like that; it definitely started with “you’re not going to believe”)
For whatever reason that we still could not clarify, the new DRM wrapping and two-system policy was indeed the likely culprit. To test the possible solution, Joe wanted me to delete something on the PS3, re-download it, and see if I had the option to copy it over via USB mode — all while still on the phone with him. OK! I wanted to go with something small enough that would not take forever to re-download, so I chose Where Is My Heart?, the pretty-well-regarded Mini that I had not yet had a chance to play (~50 MB or so). Deleted, signed in to the PlayStation Store, re-downloaded. The game did not automatically install, so it sat there in the “bubble” icon above the folders. I selected it and tried to “Copy” it… and yes, the option was there!
New error message, though: 80029780.
The groan/sigh/laugh of understanding on the other side of the phone was hilarious. Joe knew exactly what this was. This was finally the “you have been locked out of copying files for seven days for too many activation attempts” error message (Sony’s site defines it as, “You have reached the maximum number of downloads for an unactivated system”). Yes, the account had eventually been flagged for security concerns. What was never really answered, though, is why older content (that should have still had the five-system limit, and had been copied a year before with absolutely no system changes or alterations in the mean time) could not be copied.
Thankfully, it was not as if the online ID was “banned” or not usable in other ways; I could still re-download items directly on the PSP if I wanted to, and seven days from that phone conversation, I would be able to start copying files again. The caveat was that I would have to re-download all of those items on the PS3 (to get the new DRM wrapping and account syncs) before I could transfer them to the PSP… which still means I have to re-download every single last compatible item, but at least it would be on the PS3 for centralized/future access.
So that is where we stand. Seven days from now I will try copying files over again, and will update the post with the results! With no real, well-written, informative posts out there concerning these specific error messages, my goal here is to hopefully save someone the trouble of how to go about “fixing” this issue; documentation for this kind of stuff is clearly limited. As Joe and I both discussed, we both knew exactly what we were doing and talking about, and neither of us could get it resolved in a timely fashion — how on Earth is the everyday gamer supposed to figure this out?!
Also, someone please give Joe a raise or at least a free day off. He was great. My favorite part of the conversation was (other than being told over and over how awesome I was) probably reading my online ID aloud (which is, of course, just “v – e – g – e – t – t – o – e – x”), and being asked with a laugh what that spells out. I wasn’t sure if that meant he knew who I was by some cosmic coincidence; if he did, he didn’t mention it. I guess that means it was just funny, and hearing someone else say “VegettoEX” to me on the phone is indeed hysterical.
If you will indulge me just for a tad bit longer, let me point out that the root of this entire problem was DRM (and specifically, a policy change with regard to DRM). I understand the reasoning for changing the policy — “game sharing” had (apparently) gotten slightly out-of-control. Reducing the number of allowed devices was an attempt to squash that issue in some way. The problem that it created was that I — a legitimate customer — was suddenly unable to do what I had previously been able to do with the items I purchased (well, “licensed”). All I wanted to do was transfer games from one system to another. Had I hacked my PSP and installed custom firmware, I would have been able to load up my memory stick with any PS1 and PSP game(s) I wanted, with absolutely zero restrictions.
I am not advocating for free-reign piracy on the system. This entire ordeal was a clear example of how the wrong approach and policy shifts within an existing DRM scheme can really rub your paying customers (and I have significant investments there) the wrong way, however. I have to be honest: in this case, the great customer service I received basically talked me out of finally getting around to hacking the damn system. The slightest extra inconvenience would have pushed me over the edge. I am half-tempted to buy another PSP just to have one totally legit and one with custom firmware just to compare the two experiences side-by-side.
Am I just being spoiled? Sure. I could have (as Joe suggested) just re-downloaded every item I wanted directly on the PSP rather than transferring it from the PS3. Why should I have to, though? I am almost starting to come around to a full understanding-and-sympathizing viewpoint of the “they took away my Linux!” crowd… and that was always crazy (albeit in an understandable way) to me.