April 25th: Some people may or may not know this, but reviewers for Marooner’s Rock typically have to buy the games we review. Occasionally we might get lucky, but for most games I post about, I have to spend my hard earned money on. I like to think that by spending my money, I can help other people spend theirs more wisely. When the games are great, it makes it more than worth it. When they are bad, I just have to hope that I save others from making a terrible purchase. However, with full time jobs, school and lives, it makes it hard for all of us to get them out in a timely fashion. That, and I’m professionally lazy at times. Yet, for the first time I’m prevented from doing my full review because of an enigma.
I picked up Mortal Kombat on the PS3 last Tuesday, since I tend to be a Sony fan boy and an unrepentant trophy whore. Fighting games have always been a great fit for the PS3 controller as well, so I didn’t think much of my choice. I spent Tuesday playing through the story mode and a few of the training sessions. My plan was to get online with fellow Marooner’s Rocker Kyle to try out the multiplayer modes, which is really the meat of Mortal Kombat. However, Tuesday night when I tried to synch my new batch of trophies, I was unable to get on the network. I thought little of it, and simply went to bed.
As everyone now knows, Wednesday was when all hell broke loose. Playstation users have been unable to connect to the actual PSN since then. Netflix is still available, but everything else is locked out. At first, Sony ignored the problem and we were left to wait and wonder. Each day became more and more of an insult. During the outage, we have had Portal 2, whose Steam integration helped bring a new company to the console, Mortal Kombat, Socom 4, and the beta for Infamous 2. All of these games focus on multiplayer to varying degrees, and not having access to it prevented us from getting close to the full experience.
Much of the debate that has roiled and frothed in the wake of this outage has surrounded the “right” of the PS3 user to be angry or not since the online service is free. My position over all of this is, “so what?” Sure, the service is “free,” despite having to pay for the system and the game, but at this stage of the generation, having an online system is mandatory. The first thing I do when I sign online to either system is check my friends, to see what they are playing. If games are put out on your system with a focus and promise of online functionality, especially with the Steam integration featured in Portal 2, advertising the ability and then taking it away is basically a breach of contract with your consumers. Having such an egregious loss of service is unacceptable.
The above is enough to have a user revolt, and those revolve around all users. Some of us Sony stalwarts have also paid for additional services, which are also unavailable. I paid for a year of Playstation Plus, and since the outage, I am unable to access any of the services I actually paid for. For the most part, Playstation Plus involves game discounts and early access to products. The loss of those services can be forgiven, since the discounts will be there when service is restored. Yet, what swung me to become a Playstation Plus member had nothing to do with the discounts and games, I signed on for the cloud save service. When Sony added the ability to save games off system, I immediately paid for the year subscription. Being able to back up my games and transfer them from system to system was a dream come true. Currently, I play on two systems, and copying files was a pain, especially since many games (Bioware, I’m looking at you) wouldn’t allow for file copying. Not being tethered to one system made my life and my job much easier. Now, I have games trapped on the cloud that I can’t access. When I realized that the outage removed paid services for a full week, I decided that Sony needed to compensate its customers in some way.
What really came to be apparent during the outage is how much more social gaming is now, even when playing alone. I am constantly getting messages, seeing friends pop on, inviting people to games or synching up trophies throughout my day. Just having people there and knowing that I can communicate with them at any point has become a form of a safety blanket. That connection has brought gaming out of the solitary pastime it was and into the modern age, creating intense bonds and social environments,
At the end of the day, PSN is down, my Mortal Kombat review is deleayed for who knows how long, and I’m beginning to wonder why I turned my back on my 360 to begin with.
UPDATE April 26th: So, I planned on posting this rant last night, but decided I needed to sleep on it. Luckily I did. It turns out that today Sony finally announced just how deep the damage was.
So, for gamers tied into the PSN, around 70 MILLION users, every bit of personal information that you placed in the hands of Sony is now out. This means that any security question answer, (which tend to be similar for all banks and credit card applications) your credit card, your address and billing information, and your log in information is now compromised. Anyone that has this information can easily set up fraudulent accounts in your name if they so choose. If you use the same or similar passwords for any account your email is tied to, it is now open to the people that intruded upon the network. This is absolutely the worst case scenario for Sony and their users.
For those of you with sensitive information on the PSN, start taking care of it. Cancel your cards, check your transactions regularly, change up all your passwords, and pay attention to your bills. If bills go missing, make sure your address hasn’t been changed. Sony’s blog has a helpful list of credit report services which you should take advantage of if you feel your name and account is being used.
As for me, I am getting the feeling that what started out as a rant of frustration has turned into a eulogy. This is big enough that Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal has spoken out and demanded answers from Sony, as well calling for them to provide two years of paid credit reporting for each customer whose information was compromised. The loss of consumer confidence may be more than the Playstation brand can handle, especially after their rough performance this generation. If they announce a new console in the next year or two, who would be willing to jump in again, regardless of how many promises they make? What can they do to earn the trust of new consumers, and how can they keep the loyal fans from jumping ship? I defended them when they announced the original price of the PS3. I stood up for them when they failed to support their online services initially. I claimed that trophies didn’t matter. I’ve put up with a great amount of abuse from them, but I stuck with them. After today, and after a week of outright deception and lying, I am absolutely done. If Sony wants to have me as a customer, they are going to have to come to me and prove that it is the right decision. No more loyalty, no more chances.
Until then, I think my 360 backlog is calling my name.