May 012011

A quick follow-up on Funkmaster’s post from Thursday: On 4/30, Sony released more details about restoring PSN and attempting to woo back customers.

Not everything is set in stone, but it’s worth looking at the press release/blog post. Sony is promising a “Welcome Back” program that includes the following features:

  • Each territory will be offering selected PlayStation entertainment content for free download. Specific details of this content will be announced in each region soon.
  • All existing PlayStation Network customers will be provided with 30 days free membership in the PlayStation Plus premium service. Current members of PlayStation Plus will receive 30 days free service.
  • Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity subscribers (in countries where the service is available) will receive 30 days free service.

The company also promises “additional “Welcome Back” entertainment and service offerings” to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Is that enough for you – a free month of PlayStation Plus and a free PSN game? It’s hard to get excited about the free content that’s promised, because Microsoft set a precedent of mediocrity in this regard several years ago; I’m not holding my breath about the quality of this newest round of freebies. I’m also pretty uninterested in a free month of PlayStation Plus, since Sony never sold me (or many people) on the value of this service in the first place. I appreciate the general direction implied by the name “Welcome Back”, and these moves are nice gestures, but they don’t feel that relevant to me personally.

On the other hand, I’m paying attention to Sony’s actions related to long-term change within the organization. The company is revamping PSN’s security architecture (duh), and they’re creating a new senior-level position dedicated to data security and customer privacy. Sony also continues to engage outside security consultants – which I think is essential, given the apparently massive blind spot within the company that allowed this situation to unfold as it did. And when PSN services begin to be restored this week, Sony will force all users to reset their password via basic two-factor authentication: not just logging into their old account, but also performing the password change operation either on their original PS3 hardware (where the PSN account was first created) or via the personal email address associated with the PSN account. These actions fall short of the forward-looking changes that Funkmaster advocated last week…but they might be a decent start.

Has Sony learned its lesson – or have you?