A hacker known as Yifan Lu, best known for reverse-engineering the Kindle, has deciphered an exploit in the PS Vita hardware and is now seeking developers to run homebrew programs. There is no information about how exactly the Vita was cracked, for obvious reasons, but the crack could potentially be the first step to getting pirated games onto the Vita. There are a few lines of code made public that is likely part of the homebrew game he wants to put together, and while the game currently does not run, the call for developers was made to fix this and the exploit would let users at least run the code he has on display.
In an interview with Playstation Lifestyle, Yifan explained that he was entirely against piracy and hopes that the exploit will not lead to a kernel-based exploit, which would allow different operating systems and ISO uploaders to function on the PS Vita. He also said that this type of exploit is still very difficult to achieve. His goal with the exploit was to make developing for the Vita cheaper, since the $99 per year development option does not incorporate the Vita’s camera or touch controls, and the Vita development kit is largely out of the budget of small indie developers.
It will be interesting to see how this affects the sales of Vita handhelds and its games–if it affects them at all. I can imagine that developers might be scared off, but there is currently no direct way to use this exploit to pirate games. Because Yifan Lu is technically doing this for the sake of homebrew games–and not piracy–he has not done anything illegal. Circulating the exploit might be another matter entirely. Since the hacker has a history of informing the company of the hack, rather than circulating it to the public, it’s very likely that this exploit will end up fixed in the PS Vita’s next firmware update.