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Tag: customer service

PSP Game Transfer and Error Message Woes

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.

Xbox 360 License Transfer Issues – Resolved

That was a pretty easy fix. My Xbox 360 license transfer issues have been resolved, and it legitimately took nothing more than a simple phone call.

I received a follow-up voice message two days later, as promised, letting me know that the license transfer was still being worked on, but it would be resolved soon and to give them a call back if I had any questions. Later on that day, I received an e-mail letting me know that the transfer was complete. To fully resolve the outstanding issue, however, I would have to go through a manual re-downloading process of each and every individual item purchased while the hard drive was being used on the previous hardware. It was an easy process, if not time consuming. Your “Download History” in “Account Management” is painless to go through, so I sat with a drink and went through one-by-one re-“downloading” each item. I place “downloading” in quotes because the download immediately jumps from 0% or 1% all the way up to 100%, since it is only updating the license on the downloaded content, rather than fully re-acquiring said content.

After going through this process, all Rock Band DLC was accessible even when the ethernet cable was unplugged. Good job, Microsoft.

Now if only we didn’t have this pesky problem called “DRM” that made it impossible to use the things you thought you paid for but really only paid for a license to use at the sole discretion of the overlord company…

Xbox 360 License Transfer Issues

Hey. In the new house. Let’s blog, again.

So as you may have read on the site and heard on the podcast, I received a replacement Xbox 360 last September. I did not have a single problem since then (knock on wood). I went through all of their directions and re-downloaded items from my “Download History” if I needed them. All set to go.

Well, I just moved. The internet connection is up in the loft. To get on Xbox LIVE right now, I have to run a bazillion-foot ethernet cable down over the railing, across the living room, and into the 360 in the TV stand. I could buy a $100 wireless adapter, but that would be ridiculous (though I probably will do so using bonus points from my credit card so I don’t feel like I’m wasting real money). Needless to say, I don’t keep that cable running to-and-fro all the time.

The other day Jeff came over to help set up the new ION drum kit. Yes, it’s fantastic. We then attempted to play some Rock Band 2, and of course dived into some recent DLC. No problems there. Then we tried some older DLC… stuff I downloaded before I received my replacement console. Here’s what we got:

rock_band_song_unavailable

If you can’t read that (and for the sake of search-engine optimization), it reads:

The song data you were accessing has become unavailable, and the game cannot proceed without it. Your game session has restarted.

Since I’m moderately intelligent, I knew it was a license issue. A little Googling around brings up similar experiences, confirming that even deleting and re-downloading the individual song content does not re-license it to the new system hardware. What does this mean?

A call to Xbox customer support (800-4-MY-XBOX) was in order.

I ended up speaking with two very nice ladies (with very thick accents, and the second sounded like she was taking the call in a sports stadium full of people). Since I was able to explain the issue clearly and describe to them what the resolution should be, it went very smoothly. I will apparently receive a call back within 48 hours to update me on the resolution, as well as receive an e-mail when it is complete. All I had to do was provide my replacement console’s serial number and system ID a couple times, my gamertag, and e-mail address.

I’ll update again when it’s resolved. Hopefully this is an easy fix…!

PSP Post of Peril (Total Hardware Failure)

You may have heard a little bit about this on the podcast, but now that the entire situation has been resolved and I have all necessary images (and video!) to go along with the story, it is time to share my experience. First up, however, you will need a little bit of back-history with my hardware failures over the years, if only to place the PSP in context.

The first thing to go was my SNES. It was a very gradual death, and was specific to only certain games at first (leading me to believe it was the games and not the system); for example, Super Mario All-Stars would play perfectly fine, but entire blocks of terrain would be missing in Super Mario World, creating impossible jumps and therefore halting any further progress in the game. DragonBall Z: Super Butôden 3 had character sprites that would show up normally at the very beginning of a fight, but then get stuck in their standing animation and slowly begin to hover up and off-screen. Trust me, I know… it almost sounds like a possessed system. I eventually realized it was the system, and a lovely new SNES from the wife a couple years later resolved all of those issues.

Around the same time, my own Nintendo 64 died for no particular reason. It would not power up, so there was no possible testing I could do. The wife stole hers from the parents’ place, and so that situation was easily resolved.

Followers of this site will remember well my experiences with my Xbox 360 and the non-RROD errors with the video/GPU/something frying itself alive (Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 & 5), which I ultimately had to pay $99 out-of-pocket to have replaced.

Needless to say, I have not had the best luck in the world with hardware failures, but I certainly never expected my PSP to spontaneously brick itself beyond the point of even being able to hack it back to life.

The last time I remember using my PSP was on the plane ride back from our honeymoon in November 2008. It was not until the next month that I would try using the system again. Castlevania Chronicles had just come out as a downloadable PS1 game on PSN, and while I was busy converting over wedding footage to work on a video, I figured it would be fun to download the game to my PSP and play for a bit during batch conversions. Since it had been a month, the system did not turn on, and I assumed that the battery simply needed to be charged. I left the system plugged in overnight, and returned to it the next day to once again try to get it all hooked up to the PS3. Strangely, it still would not fully turn on.

Shortly before I sent the PSP back (more details to come on that), I took the following video detailing exactly what would happen when I tried to use the system. It did not matter if I had the battery in or not; it did not matter if the battery was fully charged or not; it did not matter if I was using the power adapter or not; it did not matter if the WLAN switch was on or not; it did not matter if a UMD was in or not; it did not matter if a memory stick was in or not.

I contacted my buddy Corey, who I knew had modded his own PSP. I was well aware that various hacks and mods could bring a PSP “back to life” if it had been bricked, and since I had not even attempted to mod my PSP, I figured it may be an easy fix. Corey mailed me his Pandora Battery, and I picked up a 4 GB memory stick. For those who do not know me, I suppose I should say that I was genuinely not interested in pirating games. If I was going to have to format a memory stick to do the mod, I might as well get a large-capacity one and be able to fit some of those PSN downloads on it. I know, I know… it sounds like a standard, lame, typical justification… but it is the truth.

I sat down on AIM with Corey later on and went through the process of formatting the memory stick, trying to get to the debug menu… trying to do anything. No matter what process we went through, the PSP still did the exact same thing as before. Over the next couple days, Corey would pop up with a new idea or twist on the process to try, but it made no difference. We ultimately concluded that the system did indeed spontaneously “brick” itself, but not in the traditional sense of “bricking”… it was a genuine hardware failure that even modding was not able to undo. I took very good care of the system, and even in my international travels it never really left my side or otherwise took any abuse.

By this time we are into January 2009. I had purchased my system back in March 2008 (to go along with the release of Crisis Core). While Sony offered a standard one-year warranty on new hardware purchases, I no longer had my original receipt… which Sony required in order to be covered under the warranty. Seriously? Who still has an original store receipt, never mind one that is still legible with the crappy paper and ink they use in those printers, up to a full year later…?

I opened up a ticket with Sony customer support on 03 January 2009. I explained my scenario and how I would like my system repaired and it should be covered under the one-year warranty:

I have a PSP 2000 series system which I purchased in March 2008. For absolutely zero apparent reason, it has “bricked”. I have no custom firmware, and have played a grand total of four games, downloaded two demos, and have tried Remote Play with my PS3. With or without the battery (and connected to power), the green light turns on for a couple seconds, the screen tries to light up, but nothing happens and it turns itself off. It is a completely legit system and setup, and yet as far as I can tell, I would need to provide a physical, itemized store receipt in order to obtain my appropriate warranty coverage. Being that this was nine months ago, that is impossible. Please provide information on how Sony will be either fixing or replacing my system under its warranty/coverage. Thank you.

I received the following response back (pasted below, typos and all):

Hello Michael ,

Thank you for writing us. Unfortunaetly with out the proof of purchase you are out of warranty. And there will be a fee of $89.

Ugh. Back to the drawing board for me. My next step was to stop down at Target (where I purchased the system), to see if they would be able to print out a receipt copy for me. While it was close to a year ago, I knew the exact date and price point for the system (along with other items purchased at the same time, namely Crisis Core and Patapon). I knew what their answer would be, but I was still upset to hear that I would have to get a copy from my credit card company. That meant another round of communication and waiting around, all while approaching that one-year cut-off.

I opened up a ticket with my credit card company, and shortly there-after received a letter in the (snail) mail saying it had been sent over to the appropriate investigative department and I would receive a follow-up within a couple weeks. While I once again sighed in frustration at the amount of time the process was getting delayed, I figured it would be worth it to go along with it and see what they would come back to me with. Honestly, waiting around and maybe getting a free replacement was better than being rash and paying $89 out-of-pocket.

I received another letter from my credit card company stamped 10 February 2009 with an attached “Sales Audit Copy”. This document showcased the exact date of the purchase, location, item name, and price. Fantastic! With documentation in hand, I attempted to open up a new repair ticket with Sony on 18 February 2009 (forgetting for a week that I needed to take care of it). I once again hit a brick wall when I tried to enter in my home address and the website would not take a single variation I tried (with the apartment, without, with the building number, without, abbreviating things differently, etc.). I noticed that their customer service phone line was still open for another hour, so I called them up and explained the situation. While the lady was very nice and I understand why she had to do so, I had to go through a process of testing the system with her (plug it in, take out the battery, etc.). Needless to say, I did not do a single thing she asked, and just replied, “It’s doing the same thing…” about three seconds after she asked me to perform another task. After a couple minutes of this pointless (but understanding) banter, she let me know that it sounded like what I said it was (no kidding…?!), and that if I had that “Sales Audit Copy”, they would send me out a box to ship the system back in and I would be covered under the original warranty.

Huzzah!

Here is what I received for a box in the mail. The plastic wrap perfectly covered up the box with one address label (TO me) fully covering the one on the box itself (FROM me):

psp_image_01

After going through a send-back/repair process with the 360, I was pretty familiar with what I found inside the PSP box:

psp_image_02

The system fit very snug in between the flat layers of foam and the surrounding buffer. The one-page print-out gave rather simple instructions on how to package the system inside (and not to include any games, UMDs, memory sticks, batteries, etc.). All I had to do was toss it in and bring it to a UPS store!

Of course, since I was in no real rush to play anything, it took me yet another week to remember to stick it in the mail to Sony. Heh. Cutting it close, Mike…!

On 16 March 2009, I received an e-mail from Sony letting me know that they had sent back a “PSP – DAXTER PACK” to me, and gave me a tracking number to follow along with the shipment. Two days later, and all the way from Texas, my shiny replacement PSP had arrived. The box was exactly the same size as the original one they had sent me, and clearly labeled that it was a PSP-2000 (which is what I had sent them):

psp_image_03

The contents of this box were slightly more interesting than that original box, though:

psp_image_04

I fully expected to just see a PSP sitting in there, so I was surprised to see a nice little soft slipcase for the system.

psp_image_05

In addition to the slipcase, there was also a white strap and a cleaning cloth. I really had no use for those other two, but I was still pretty happy about the slipcase. I had purchased a hard plastic container to keep the system in for traveling and general protection, but this soft cover was pretty nice. The PSP itself was somewhat of a hoot:

psp_image_06

Yep, that’s a PSP in a zip-lock bag, just hanging out. There was a new screen protector over top the system, but the bag was just a riot to me for some reason. After taking the system out to examine it, I could tell it was a complete replacement rather than just a repair. I had a slight knick on the center/right of my screen which was not on this system, so that right there pretty much sealed it. It seemed like a brand-new system, with the only hint otherwise being the giant sticker across the back:

psp_image_07

So there you have it. I would say it was an exciting process, but considering how many times I forgot to send something out, I think that speaks volumes about how much I truly cared. Please do not misunderstand; the PSP is a fantastic little system with a gorgeous screen and plenty of perfectly fine games to play on it, and I really wanted to get it back so I could continue toying around with the PS3 connectivity (and one day do a “New Game +” on Crisis Core).

Had this happened to my DS, though? I would have been at the store five minutes later buying a replacement.

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