It Only Does Everything (Including Network Outages)
By Matt White (Chtulu80)
What do “Killzone 3”, “Uncharted 2”, and the new “SOCOM 4” have in common? They are all games for the Playstation 3 video game system and they also have major online multiplayer portions. On the night of April 20th, Sony started having problems with their “Playstation Network” services. On that night many folks were having problems logging into the PSN and playing online. Shortly thereafter, Sony took the system offline without much notice to users as to what was going on. Speculation started on the internet which is always the case. Was it the group of hackers that go under the moniker of Anonymous or was it something else? While the information of who it was that was hacked the system is not known or released, thanks to some insiders some information is starting to trickle out about the PSN outage.
With no PSN, there is no Playstation store; meaning Sony is not making any money during this outage. They cannot sell games, movies or movie rentals among other things. People are unable to access things like the NHL Open Ice package, or MLB TV. While PSN is a free service there are a lot of products tied to the online service that folks are unable to access, therefore not getting their money worth out of it. Not only are the above applications mentioned above paid applications but what about other services that PSN offers such as “Playstation Plus” or even the online only game “DC Universe Online”? Now in the terms of service for PSN it states that users are not entitled to any compensation due to inability to access service but I saw nothing about users of the “Playstation Plus” service or any of the individual applications that are paid services. There are also reports of people having issues getting the Netflix application to work on the system.
Now Sony has given updates almost daily saying almost nothing. Saying the system is down due to network intrusion, with no time frame given as to when it would be back online. Some information is coming out saying that the source of this new intrusion is due to “jailbroken” PS3s and new custom firmware. Also supposedly this new custom firmware is allowing people who jailbreak their PS3 systems to basically turn their systems into developer units; giving them access to Dev-PSN which is a developer only network. From there they can search for public servers then connect to them. Also there is word going around that this hacker work around allowed for the hackers to download “massive amounts” of content off of the Playstation Store. I could see that being the reason that they took down the network.
This also brings in a whole host of questions. The first of which would be when is the PSN going to be back online? No one really knows. This really stinks for all involved, be it Sony or its consumers. Keep this in mind though, Sony is a rather large company with a rather large network. They are having to, from sources close to the company, recode the entire PSN. This would have to take a good amount of time. Doing it under a timetable would almost be a mistake. There could be more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese. I think I would be able to speak for most PSN users when I say that I would not want this. I know that the network has been down for just under a week, but with the Easter holiday weekend just behind us how much work was actually done on Sunday? We would all like to be able to play our games online, but we will just have to wait for that until they deem the network ready.
Also, one really big question is has any of our personal information been breached or accessed by these hackers? This can be a really big mess for Sony. Any network intrusion when personal information or credit card information is concerned is huge. This could potentially mean that thousands of people have their information and credit potentially damaged. This would tarnish and damage Sonys public and business image for a long time to come. Could they end up facing long term lawsuits from customers who have had their information taken? This is one question that needs to be answered.
This whole situation makes me want to ask Sony if they thought they did the “right” thing by settling with George “Geohot” Hotz. I ask this because although exact agreements that were made were not made public knowledge, but this all started with him. “Geohot” jailbroke the PS3 and has allowed people to do all of this mess. At the time of the settlement, none of this stuff had been noticed or Sony was not aware of it. Now that the settlement is finalized people had supposedly downloaded “massive amounts” of free software from the Playstation Store. How much had this cost Sony as a company that they will not be able to recoup?
Now there is the issue of compensation. Do any of the thousands of consumers deserve anything? Do they deserve monetary compensation? How bout a free PSN title? How bout just a few answers to the questions that we all have? I think that answers would be a given, but given the sensitive nature of the intrusion I doubt that we will know anything until after the PSN is put back online. As far as monetary compensation, who would be able to get that? Would it be all PSN members? Would it just be PSN Plus members? Would it be the people who have paid for subscriptions to DCUO, NHL Open Ice, or the MLB app? This just brings up a whole hornets nest because if they don’t do something and do it right, then it could mean a mass exodus of people off of the PSN. I remember that when the Xbox Live service went down after it came back up they offered all members a free XBLA game. It wasn’t a very good game, but at least it was something. It also generated some good will with their consumers. Sony could learn a lesson from this.
Lastly, what does this mean for developers? I mean if this new hack allows access to their private networks for testing out the online features of their games does that then mean that Sony will have to also fix the development kits? This would be a very big issue. If they have to change the dev kits, and then is that a big set back for developers? I know when the kits first started going out at first that they had a hard time getting used to the dev kits. So would that mean for games in development that they would have to redo the entire net code of the games in progress? This could mean either delays of games or having to just delay the PS3 version on multi-platform titles. Lets hope that this isn’t the case and that all games come out on time.
Now for the conspiracy lovers among us, here are a few ideas. Just think for a moment if there was no “external intrusion” on their networks. What if they just needed to take down their network for improvements? I think that it is kinda funny that the very week that they go to add steamworks features to their network it goes down. Is it that they are adding more than steamworks and they need a good amount of time to do it? Could it be that they are going to be adding cross game chat or easier party systems? Personally I don’t think that this is the case, but who knows stranger things have happened in the past. Although why would Sony, a company known for taking features away, be adding functionality to their network?
On Tuesday, April 26, Sony started sending emails out to members of their Playstation Network. I was one of the many people who have or will be getting these. The email is a copy and paste of the announcement that was posted on the Playstation Blog website. If you are a member of the PSN I would highly suggest that you go to your bank and talk to them about changing the debit/credit card that was used on PSN, and also see what else they can do or recommend. I also suggest, like Sony themselves, that you contact the 3 major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert out. This would be for your protection. While Sony has stated that they don’t believe credit information was taken, you can never be too careful.