More than 24-hours ago, PlayStation 3 owners around the world began reporting serious issues with their consoles. While some PS3s have been unable to play games and log into the PlayStation Network, other consoles haven’t experienced any problems. The question is: what is going on?
The first thing to note is that this is not a PlayStation Network issue. These errors and issues are directly related to the hardware side of the PlayStation 3 console. Specifically, the system and OS clocks are conflicting, which is causing erratic system behavior. The system clock is running at all times and only counts forward. When powered on, the system clock confirms what time it is to the OS Clock. On top of that, when a PlayStation 3 is on, a battery inside of the PlayStation 3 gets charged which runs the system clock in the background even when the PlayStation 3 is turned off.
What’s causing the problem?
The system clock thinks that today is a leap year dated February 29th, 2010. Meanwhile, the OS Clock doesn’t have that date available in its table since it doesn’t exist. What we have are two very conflicting dates which have caused the PlayStation 3 to change behavior. It’s hard to tell exactly why the date on many PS3s has been rolled back to 1999, but it could be a protocol set in place by Sony for situations like this.
Why does the system clock think it’s leap year?
Apparently, the older PlayStation 3s have been programmed to think that every even year is a leap year. You might be asking, “Well, why didn’t PS3 consoles face this issue in 2008 then?”. The answer is, because 2008 WAS a leap year. This is an unfortunate set of circumstances, because in reality leap year is every four years, but the console thinks that it is every two.
At this point, one of three things can happen.
1. The official GMT ticks over to March 2nd and the PlayStation 3 moves to March 1st instead of the leap year date which is causing the issues.
2. Sony finds a way to force the System Clock to move to the current date or at least behave properly.
3. There is no way fix the issue and Sony will have to find a plan b.
Some consumers are removing the internal battery to reset the System Clock which apparently has worked thus far. This isn’t a good idea, however, since it voids the warranty and might create more problems if Sony issues a fix. At any rate, in roughly 2-3 hours the official GMT will shift over to the next day, and hopefully the PlayStation 3 will begin working properly again. Until then, we recommend keeping the PlayStation 3 turned off while waiting for an official update from Sony.
[UPDATE] It looks like the issue has been self-corrected. Moving to the 2nd of March on GMT 00:00 has solved the problem. Feel free to log back on your PlayStation 3 consoles.