Surprise PS3 update shocks fans - but it probably shouldn't

PS3 Future Owns
(Image credit: Future)

It is 2023 and Sony just put out a new system update for the PlayStation 3. You might be surprised to learn that. You might also be surprised to learn that new PS3 updates have been coming out at least once a year for the nearly two decades that the system has been around.

PS3 firmware version 4.90 landed earlier today, with one, tiny patch note (opens in new tab): "This system software update improves system performance." The PS3 has been getting updates with similarly unhelpful patch notes annually for years, with only a handful of more substantial notes in that timeframe. Perhaps the biggest was the 4.89 update last year, which disabled PSN account creation on PS3, and required you to create a "device password" in order to sign in with your account on the old console.

You might be wondering, then, what all those "system performance" updates are for - after all, it's not like your PS3 games are suddenly running with better frame rates after these updates. It turns out that this is mostly about DRM. The PS3 requires regular updates to its AACS license keys (opens in new tab) in order to play Blu-ray movie discs, so if you don't keep your system up to date, you won't be able to keep playing new Blu-rays on the console.

The other effect is that these updates tend to break custom firmware installations. The homebrew community has been scrambling (opens in new tab) to figure out the extent of the technical changes made in this update and what it'll take to get unofficial system software working again, and there's no clear ETA on when the homebrew devs will be able to make their updates. There are different types of custom firmware that make different levels of changes to the PS3 system, and those will likely get updated at different intervals.

For now, just update your PS3 if you're running official software, keep it disconnected if you've jailbroken the console, and ignore all this if you're a normal person (unlike me) who doesn't keep two-decade-old consoles hooked up. In all cases, don't be surprised when we get another sudden PS3 system update next year.

Us PS3-keeping sickos will just get to continue enjoying the best PS3 games of all time.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.