PlayStation 3 encounters crippling calendar problem

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The Independent Tech

A strange calendar-based error afflicting older PlayStation 3 consoles has meant that owners worldwide are hesitant to turn on their gaming machines until Sony assures them that a fix is available.

The problem, which is afflicting original "fat" shape consoles, is encountered when the machine attempts to change the date from February 28, 2010, to March 1, 2010.

Instead, the calendar reverts to December 31, 1999, and prevents users from logging on to Sony's online service, the PlayStation Network.

Records of in-game achievements, called Trophies, are also rendered vulnerable by the error. Many users have reported that trophy data stored on their PlayStation 3s has been corrupted as a result of the clock error.

Intriguingly enough, although the predicament is tormenting the "fat" PlayStation 3 console - even development kits sent out to game studios have been struck down - the newer "slim" PlayStation 3 that has been available since September 1, 2009, remains unaffected.

Though the 8001050F error code given by the older model implies that there is a problem connecting to the PlayStation Network, the fact that users of the slim PlayStation 3 are unhindered in their online exploits indicates that the fault is internal.

Many games incorporate a network check into their startup routine and so those titles will be unplayable until the error is rectified.

Between the PlayStation 3's 2006 launch and the September 2009 production of the slimmer model, at least 35 million consoles had been sold.

Sony has released a statement to assure those owners that they are working on a fix for the bug. Though the cause remains unknown, cognizant PS3 users are keeping their machines powered off and disconnected from the internet until a solution has been found.

The calamity could not have been worse, threatening to negate the critical and commercial success surrounding the launch of PS3-exclusive game Heavy Rain, released February 23-24 .