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Tens of millions of PlayStation 3s disabled by bug [updated]

March 1, 2010 |  1:58 pm

PS3Wonder if they picked up a book instead.

Video gamers were forced to put down their joysticks Sunday as tens of millions of Sony PlayStation 3s were hit by a bug in the console's clock that prevented owners from playing certain games or connecting to the Internet. The problem is apparently caused by the device's internal clock, which for unknown reasons on Feb. 28 changed to Dec. 31, 1999.

The calendar error prevented users from playing any game downloaded from the Internet or certain recent releases on discs, including Atlus Entertainment's fantasy action game Demon's Souls and Sony's own recently released noir game Heavy Rain.

In addition, PS3 owners can't connect to the Internet to compete against other players online or to download movies and television shows.

In a blog post that went up today, a Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesman warned that the problem may effect any PS3 sold before a new "slim" version launched in September. As of June, the last date before September for which the Japanese electronics giant reported financial information, it has sold 23.8 million PS3s around the world.

The Sony blog advised owners of any PS3 except the new "slim" version not to use the device and said the company hopes to have a fix within 24 hours.

Sony's video game console (which is also the world's bestselling Blu-ray player) has previously had a much stronger quality record than its primary competitor. Microsoft has had to replace millions of faulty units of its Xbox 360 at a cost of more than $1 billion.

No word if gamers have decided that as they can't play they might as well party like it's 1999.

[Update, 6:10 p.m.: Sony reported in a recent blog post that the problem has been corrected. Several users have reported that their previously unusable Playstation 3's can now access the Internet.]

--Ben Fritz

Photo: A PlayStation 3. Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg.