Medal of Honor blocks PSjailbreak

Sony is stepping up its battle against users of 'jailbreak' hacks on its PlayStation 3 console, forcing gamers to patch the flaw with a new firmware if they want to play the latest games - starting with Medal of Honor.

US buyers of the new Medal of Honor game, which will hit UK stores this Friday, have confirmed that the title will ship with a copy of the 3.50 firmware on the disc - and require users to install it before playing the game.

The 3.50 firmware introduces significant changes into the handling of third-party USB devices, blocking most common methods of using the PSjailbreak or PSGroove exploits to bypass the copy protection systems built in to the PS3.

While users have always had to update to new firmware versions to enjoy online gaming over the PlayStation Network, Medal of Honor will be the first title to require firmware version 3.50 or above even for offline play - meaning all users will have to upgrade, even if their PlayStation 3 is not connected to the Internet.

Eurogamer indicates that Sony's plan is for all future game releases to require the updated firmware, which will be included on game discs for those not able to download it over PSN - and indicates that a change to the encryption scheme used by future titles will leave PSjailbreak users unable to play new games, whether pirated or original copies.

It's a bold move on Sony's part: while it has been enforcing minimum firmware versions on its PlayStation Portable releases for some time, it had largely left the PS3 alone - and users are unlikely to be happy with the move, as upgrading can remove key functionality from their consoles such as the ability to use some third-party USB controllers and the option to install Linux as a secondary operating system.

How long it will take the hackers and tinkerers to work their way around the limitation remains to be seen.