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PS4's internal clock battery could brick your console

PS4 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Your PS4 console could be rendered completely useless in the future if its internal clock battery dies. You won’t be able to play any PS4 games on it, regardless of whether they’re digital copies or on disc. 

That’s according to trusted hacker, Lance McDonald, who shared the extremely worrying news that PS4 consoles will be nothing more than an expensive paperweight, should the internal system clock die.

But how could this potentially catastrophic oversight prevent the PS4 from playing games? Well, it’s apparently all tied to how trophies work, and more specifically, how the PS4 uses the console’s internal clock to prevent users from manipulating PS4’s trophy system. 

As McDonald points out on Twitter, “...Trophies on PS4 require the internal system clock (the one you can’t see / alter) to be correct, so people can’t change their PS4 date/time to make it look like they got trophies earlier than they really did. If your PS4 clock battery dies, all your games die.”

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McDonald goes on to say “If your system clock resets to zero, the only official way to correct it is to connect to the PSN network”, which implies that should Sony decide to do away with PSN in the future, the console will be bricked as you wouldn’t be able to correct the clock by connecting it to the PSN network.

McDonald’s statement was in response to a tweet from Does It Play, an account that’s dedicated to video game preservation. Does It Play stated that when “the PS4 CMOS battery dies (and it will) it renders all PS4 digital files unusable without a server reconnection and in PS4 it also kills disc playback.”

Replacing the CMOS isn’t too troublesome, apparently, but Does It Play told IGN India the fact the internal clock also affects the PS4’s ability to play discs is concerning. “CMOS can only have it’s time fixed by PSN or hacks,” Does It Play said. “The fact it kills discs is lunacy.”

McDonald also suggested that Sony could fix this issue with a firmware update, but doesn't see it happening anytime soon, if at all.

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Panic stations

The main question is, then, should you be worried? Potentially. The fact that the PS4’s internal clock battery dying could have such dire consequences is definitely worrying, particularly as Sony hasn’t got the best track record when it comes to video game preservation.

The company is reported to be shutting down the PS3, PSP and PS Vita storefronts from July, which means players who own either system won’t be able to purchase new games, DLC or apps; however, they should still be able to download previously purchased content.

If Sony were to pull the plug on PSN down the line, it could render over 100 million PlayStation 4 consoles all but dead. And while that might not seem probable right now, the fact that it’s even a possibility is rather disconcerting. 

The PlayStation Network was infamously taken down by hackers in 2011, which resulted in the online service being down for 23 days and thousands of user accounts were compromised. 

We’ve reached out to Sony for comment and will update this article should we hear more. 

Adam Vjestica

Adam is a Senior Gaming Writer at TechRadar. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites, and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. (He’s still recovering to this day.)