Following on from the controversial and expensive PS Jailbreak USB hacking tool that allows owners to copy PlayStation 3 games, a second hack has been released with two major differences: the PSGroove is free, and it doesn't promote software piracy - at least, not right away.

The PSGroove is a suite of files placed on a special kind of USB stick used by programmers. The files are freely downloadable and modifiable, with the right type of USBs that cost around $30, nearly $100 less than the PS Jailbreak's initial price.

A working PSGroove allows users to install unsigned PlayStation 3 programs to their console - meaning that amateur and hobbyist coders can knock up their own games and apps, distributing them via the internet instead of going through Sony's retail channels.

In its original state, the PSGroove further distinguished itself from PS Jailbreak as it did not allow users to play games ripped from retail discs via a hidden backup manager.

However, the open and accessible nature of the PSGroove files mean that other programmers can fork development from the original suite and concentrate on reinstating the backup manager, as one group is already claiming to have done by means of a simple edit.

Being able to fully install games to the PS3 hard drive in this way should speed up loading times and increase ease of use, as players no longer need to rifle through stacks of games and manually change discs, a convenience enjoyed by many PC gamers for over half a decade.

It also poses a threat to Sony and game developers, as the consumer decision to pay for a new game is transformed from a technological necessity to a moral choice, should it be possible to distribute and install those backup copies.

As it is, Sony is pursuing the PS Jailbreak's resellers and is believed to be working on a software update that curtails the effectiveness of both Jailbreak and Groove, with repercussions especially likely for users that have accessed the backup manager.

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