The free ride is over - at least for now. Yesterday's US release of Medal of Honor confirms that Sony has nullified the piracy-enabling PSJailbreak by locking the code to the new 3.42 firmware. While "backups" of the game are now circulating the internet, the game is completely unplayable with the hack as is.

Sony's response to the Jailbreak has been measured, but effective. Within a week of the open source PSGroove implementation arriving online, the platform holder released firmware 3.42, closing the USB exploit - effectively locking out hackers from running pirated games and unauthorised code from the PlayStation Network.

The later firmware 3.50 locks down the PS3 still further, with what appears to be a "white list" of approved USB devices added to the system. This locks out all non-approved, non-storage-based USB devices, and has resulted in some controller incompatibilities.

Sony operates on a longer lead time when it comes to physically duplicating game discs, so recent hits like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West remained vulnerable to Jailbreak piracy. However, the release of Medal of Honor demonstrates that all levels of Sony's operation have now caught up in the efforts to prevent piracy.

Despite being a minimal, incremental update, firmware 3.2 appears to include an all-new decryption key not present in earlier versions. Medal of Honor and all titles going forward are encrypted with the new key, meaning that the Jailbreak in its current form has been effectively nullified: the existing firmware it's based on simply can't read the code.

It's unclear if the new keys could be added to the existing hack: the system privileges the Jailbreak opens up do not include access to the PS3's core security layers, whereas Geohot's much derided exploit does, and being hardware-based, it cannot be revoked by Sony.

Whether this will actually translate into an extension to the existing hack remains to be seen, but in the mean time, Sony will be hoping that its counter-measures against the Jailbreak should ensure a piracy-free Christmas for key titles such as Gran Turismo 5 and Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Update: Firmware 3.42 has now been circumvented. It appears to be the case that no new encryption keys were added to the system update at all, merely additional version checks when the game loaded. These have now been circumvented, so while PSN access remains off-limits, PS3 piracy remains unchecked. The cat and mouse game continues...

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Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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