So it’s all over the internet about how the Playstation Network has been down for 4 days with no indication as to when it will come back online. Some may not express much concern about it, by just dismissing it as some whiny gamers not being able to play online, and state the fact that PSN is free compared to Xbox Live…what’s the big deal?
It’s actually a fairly large deal, if you look at the whole picture. No PSN has lots of ramifications. Let’s start with the easy ones. No PSN means that the heavily-used-by-many Netflix app is completely useless. The MLB.TV app, much like Netflix, refuses to work unless you are signed into PSN. Other services like the oddly named Qriocity music service is unusable, not to mention a fair amount of games that require a PSN sign-in just to play single player or local co-op. If you bought into Sony’s marketing tag lines that the PS3 just does everything, you are probably shocked and dismayed to learn that without PSN, the PS3 doesn’t do much of anything. One could make an argument that being locked out of these subscription services could warrant some sort of compensation for lost time — and definitely would seem appropriate at least for Playstation Plus subscribers.
But what about other, less obvious problems this has caused? Consider the developers who released games on the Playstation Store this week. Developers and publishers usually pick specific release-date windows and rely heavily on first-week sales for revenue. It’s hard not to imagine it negatively affecting sales dollars for these games like Telltale’s Puzzle Agent, or Fancy Pants Adventures, made by an indie developer and published by EA. Then there’s free Easter weekend promo Q-Games’ had planned to celebrate a big update to Pixel Junk Shooter 2 that had to be canceled. Also don’t forget Valve’s PSN to Steam integration for Portal 2, the new Mortal Kombat and the PS3 exclusive new SOCOM, all released this week. Will Sony be compensating these developers?
While Sony has vaguely placed blame on hackers in their latest update, the amount of communication has been stunningly sparse. Many people do understand that problems happen, but being kept in the dark about the issues and no rough estimate of service restoration is not good PR. With this outage beginning to reach epic proportions and the apparent nonchalant attitude in what few updates Sony has given on the issue will lose good faith with end users and developers. And then there is the unknown. If PSN has been fatally breached, what type of information has been exposed to these nefarious hackers? Credit card data, names, addresses, usernames, passwords and emails could all be potential targets. Of course this is all worse case scenario, and I hate to start fear-mongering, but things like that are very real possibilities, especially when an outage lasts this long. However, at this point, can we really trust what Sony says? First they started off by saying it was maintenance. Then they changed that and said they were investigating it, which later became an “an external intrusion.” Would Sony admit their own internal maintenance went wrong and ended up in days and days of downtime? They’d have a lot to answer to from customers, developers and content providers if it was their fault. Even if it was nebulous internet hackers, I’m startled that a billion dollar international company who supposedly specializes in internet entertainment delivery cannot recovery in less than 4+ days from a breach.
For Sony to save face, they’ll need to have a lengthy description of what went wrong, what data, if any, was compromised, and what they’re doing to prevent it from happening again. Also, I think they’ll need to offer their customers something of a peace offering. Maybe it’s not direct financial compensation, but something along the lines of free content that Microsoft offered when Xbox Live went down for just over a day a few years back. Something to help restore faith in all parties involved in the PS3 platform.