It’s been a big year for Sony and the PlayStation Network—and by big I mean the elephant in the room where the PSN was dead-in-the-water for nearly a month of that year. Not only did the PlayStation Network go dark, but after it came back online, Sony kept getting hammered by further breaches to various websites and properties they own—and the variety of hackers hounding them still have not let up upon the posting of this article or the apology delivered by Sony for the PSN downtime.
And they really need an apology. For the time that the PlayStation Network was down, no PS3 users could utilize most of the services on their gaming console (according to some even offline games were affected) essentially turning the PlayStation 3 into a brick that did little but eat electricity and sit pretty.
During the keynote speech of the Sony press event on June 6th—one day before the official opening of E3 2011—Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, took the stage to reveal a number of new products presented by Sony to their fans and also speak his mind on the topic of the downtime.
“This isn’t the first time that I came to the stage of an E3 conference with an elephant in the room—and of course I’m referring to the PlayStation Network outage. And this the first opportunity for me to personally address everybody and discuss it a little bit. So my friends who are reporters tell me that there’s absolutely nothing in the world that makes their editor’s day like controversy and bad news. So to all our esteemed members of the press, I say, ‘You’re welcome.’
“To our retail partners: You gave us shelf-space when there was no PlayStation brand and you’ve given us more than our fair share since 1995 when we launched the original PlayStation. And after just having the best year since PlayStation 3 launch, we’re seeing sales of PlayStation 3 exceeding last year’s lofty numbers throughout the PlayStation launch. In fact last week’s numbers alone were up 27% over the prior year.
“Which brings me to the audience that I’m most interested in addressing and those are our consumers. You are the lifeblood of the company; without you there is no PlayStation. And I want to apologize both personally and on behalf of the company for any anxiety that we caused you. I know we took you away from what you enjoy most—connecting and gaming with friends all over the world and enjoying the many entertainment options on PlayStation Network. And it is you that both causes us to be humble and amazed at the amount of dedication and support you continue to give to the PlayStation brand.
“Network activity is currently at over 90% of what it was before the network outage and that is something that we absolutely do not take lightly. We are committed more than ever to making sure that the PlayStation Network experience is both entertaining and secure for everybody.”
While it’s going to be difficult to really tell if their sales are actually up 27% in the wake of an outage that took out the primary reason why people shell out $300 for a game console in an ecosystem where the median for current-gen consoles is $200. It’s hard to believe that the PlayStation is actually doing as well as Tretton claimed during his apology speech. That the network is back up to above 90% of pre-outage doesn’t seem that outrageous, however, the people who use the network still have friends and games to play and they’re going to want to get back to them.
What’s disappointing, however, is that aside from the apology Sony hasn’t really put together much anything appealing to soothe the blow they delivered to their customers and game publishers. The losses that Sony and those connected is still being guessed at today—but it’s easy to say it was nothing insubstantial.
Yes, they have a “Welcome Back” package put together (that’s mostly free games) that will help mollify sore customers who had to sit on their hands for a month—but it does so at the price of stomping on the toes of game publishers who use PSN to make money. And then there’s the delivery of one-year of identity theft insurance for users who were signed up for PSN before the April 20th hacks.
Perhaps a much more formalized plan-of-action would seem better knowing the state of things rather than a showing of hands right before a lengthy product demonstration. It made sense that E3 would be the platform for Sony’s bowing and scraping; but it’s going to take time and security before we can accept the new PlayStation Network as secure or reliable.