Sony's competition, the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360, had major issues with piracy. Hackers made it possible to play backed up copies of video games through console hardware and software modification. While playing a backup of something may sound harmless to those outside of the video game industry, it's not as innocent as you copying some songs off of your favorite Wham album onto a mix tape for your late night crying sessions. In the video game community, the ability to play backups almost always leads to piracy. Through the use of torrent sites, unsavory (or cheap) gamers are able to freely download pirated copies of games and play them without ever owning their own original copy. Outside a hut in Malaysia, this is a pretty illegal and profit crushing activity. Sony's PS3, however, is considered to be quite unhackable. Until now.
In April of this year, Sony released a firmware update (v3.21) that completely disabled the ability to install a secondary operating system. The move was made because of mounting security concerns due to a vulnerability opened by the installation of Linux based operating systems on the console. The hardcore nerd sector of the PS3 fanbase was extremely distraught by this; some even filed several class action lawsuits against Sony citing a form of false advertising. As you're about to find out, this may have been all for naught.
Through the use of a simple USB thumbdrive, The PS Jailbreak allows PS3 console owners to unlock the ability to play PS3 games without a disc. The drive contains a software hack that tricks the console into thinking that it's now a developer's test unit. Users are given the ability to play games from any USB storage device formatted in FAT32. Currently, only PS3 games can be played using PS Jailbreak; PSone, PS2, DVDs, and Blu Ray movies are currently not supported. The embedded software is currently set to run on Playstation OS v3.41, but one would imagine that the device (and the inevitable knockoffs) will be ready for the software updates that Sony will surely deploy in a vain attempt to stop the hack.
The device is currently in extremely short supply as of post date, with price points ranging from $120 to $150 (USD). This may seem like a high ticket item to some, but considering the $60 price tag on most console video games, it would pay for itself after two or three game downloads.
Welcome to the Hacked Club, PS3. You tried, but the thieving bastards won in the end. You now truly do EVERYTHING again. And by the looks of it, it's just the beginning. We only hope that this won't lead to the eventual removal of USB ports on future PS3 consoles.