The previous week has probably been as dark as any in Sony history. This is seriously going in their Wikipedia page, right next to the BMG rootkit mess, the laptop battery boondoggle and any other synonym for unfortunate incident you can think of. About the only silver lining to this whole PSN fiasco is probably that it’s shifted attention both from the Wii 2 announcement, and let’s face it, Sony couldn’t have timed it better if it tried (except maybe during E3, but that would have been.. counter-intuitive) and the George Hotz lawsuit.
Believe it or not, Sony will probably come out of this looking okay. We mean, sure, they waited six days to tell anyone about the leaked credit card data and yeah, they might have missed a few congressional hearings or some such nonsense, not to mention all they apparently had guarding your info was an expired evaluation copy of Zone Alarm Plus. Also, they didn’t really come out of that aforementioned GeoHot lawsuit looking too great.
But even the biggest bully can only take so many hits before you just start feeling sorry for them. Not only are they coming off as a victim here, but they’re actually doing a decent job of making amends. No, we don’t mean the free month of DC Universe Online subscription, though that certainly didn’t hurt. We don’t even mean Kaz Hirai taking the time to finally pay Congress a visit and promptly blame Anonymous for everything. And although bringing the FBI and Homeland security in on the whole deal was badass, that’s still not the smartest thing they did.
Sony has announced that it’s paying for an identity theft protection service for each and every PSN subscriber. For a year. That’s in addition to the free PS3 and PSP games it’s giving away.All of this while bringing in outside security experts to patch up their compromised system. I’m trying pretty hard to think of something else they could have done more except not lose that data in the first place, but I’m coming up empty.
And make no mistake, Sony’s week from hell is far from over. Never mind the fact that PSN isn’t up yet, that’s almost understandable under the circumstances. Let’s discount the PR damage as well, though we imagine recent hardware or software sales have not been what you would call brisk. But consider the fact that Sony was attacked a second time in an eight-day period, potentially losing the financial details of some 25 million customers. Also keep in mind that hackers have just released a new PlayStation 3 custom firmware that once again enables the OtherOS feature that started this whole saga.
So, what I guess I’m asking is, does this have the potential to irreversibly affect the ecosystem itself? Obviously, at the end of the day, there aren’t that many free console multiplayer services, so people aren’t exactly spoilt for choice. It might just seem worth it for some of them to flee to greener and more secure pastures, and no doubt some will. But anyone who thinks this will put a serious dent in PSN numbers has never seen Sony PR in action.