First spotted by Exputer (opens in new tab), the PlayStation Store is removing access to over 300 movies and TV shows in Germany and Austria due to an expiring licensing agreement with distributor Studio Canal. This isn’t the standard delisting we’ve come to expect from digital storefronts either—users who bought these shows, which include hits like John Wick, the entire Saw series, and King of the Hill, will have the items removed from their libraries at the end of August.
The (translated) legal notice on PlayStation’s official website (opens in new tab) states: “As of August 31, 2022, due to our evolving licensing agreements with content providers, you will no longer be able to view your previously purchased Studio Canal content and it will be removed from your video library.” The statement is followed by a list of the affected purchases.
The move is the nightmare scenario for digital libraries, and it’s surprising to see from such a high-profile, established company. As GamesHub (opens in new tab) pointed out in its coverage, Sony previously stated (opens in new tab) that users would be able to access media purchased on the PlayStation Store, even as the company halted new sales of licensed movies and TV shows through the platform.
I can still freely download the copy of Dragon Age 2 I got on Steam in 2011, even though it feels like not a week goes by without EA either pulling the series or adding it back to the storefront. However, I have to imagine that a film distributor like Studio Canal has a different handle on its IP than a videogame publisher. Sony most likely let the rights slip for the same reason it shuttered direct media purchases on the PlayStation store in the first place—there weren’t enough customers to raise a stink about it. I know when I watch movies on my PS4, it’s through a third-party app like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO.
Still, despite the edge case of locale and storefront, it’s an unsettling precedent. I have far too many dollars and hours invested in my Steam library to not be alarmed at evidence of the potential fragility and instability of digital storefronts, especially when it comes the same week as Ubisoft pulling the plug (opens in new tab) on some older, but certainly not ancient games’ online features and DLC access.
My heart goes out to the ill-informed Austrian salaryman who returns home after a gruelling day at the office this September to enjoy Chicken Run (opens in new tab) dubbed and/or subbed on his PS4, only to find it gone forever—one final drop causing a chalice of misery to overflow.