If a Sony console is involved it’s only a matter of time before someone hacks it so they can run Super Nintendo Games on it. Sony’s newest handheld, the Vita, is no exception to this rule. Recently Sony removed two PSP games from their online store because they were said to contain programming holes allowing unsigned code to be run.
The holes were actually announced back on March 1 when the hackers over at Wololo.net announced their Vita Half Byte Loader (VHBL) worked by exploiting a hole in the downloadable version of the PSP game Motorstorm: Arctic Edge. The group released a video of Doom running on the Vita as proof of their success. Sony didn’t mess around and quickly removed the game from their online store before VHBL was officially released the next day.
If you already had downloaded the game before Sony removed it the exploit could still be used. Also, the group that developed VHBL claims to have gone the extra mile to make sure as many people as possible could download the game before it was removed.
One side effect of this nonsense is that Sony blocked users ability to redownload the title if they had already purchased it. This put innocent users, who purchased the title for non nefarious purposes, in a situation where they could not delete the game they had bought or they would no longer have access to it.
This matter seemed dead until Sunday. The group of hackers discussed another hole in the Japanese and European PlayStation Store download Everybody’s Tennis that would allow VHBL to be run once more. Sony once again responded by removing the game from the online store before the exploit was officially released.
Wololo claims their software is only useful for running homebrew and pirated PSP or Vita games on the Vita but Sony is taking it very seriously regardless. The company is notorious for trying to thwart hacks and exploits on their systems by releasing software updates. Those updates always seem to be quickly rehacked.
Sony is clearly using their control of the online store to try and head off homebrew on the Vita. This type of approach always seems to be an uphill battle. The hackers at Wololo claim to have access to more games that can be used to get VHBL running on the Vita. Sony can remove games as they become an issue but that will only slow the homebrew community down not stop it all together.