PSN apology: What else would you have Sony do?

Sony's 'apology package' is more than enough, but the real apology comes when the network's proven safe and sound

Now that the PlayStation Network’s back, Sony’s trotting out something it's calling a "PlayStation Network and Qriocity Customer Appreciation Program," prompting cries of "too much" or "too little" in certain press channels.

Sony's essentially giving away freebies as an apology for 26 days of PSN and Qriocity downtime. The service went dark on Wednesday, April 20th, and just came back this weekend, Saturday, May 14th.

In North America, PSN perks include two free PS3 games (from a list including Dead Nation, inFAMOUS, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD, and Wipeout HD + Fury), two free PSP games (from a list including LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers, Pursuit Force, and Killzone Liberation), movie rental vouchers, and either 30 days free membership in Sony’s PlayStation Plus service for non-members or 60 days in credit if you’re already signed up. If you’re a PlayStation Home user, you'll have access to “100 free virtual items,” too.

All that, and Sony's offering a year free enrollment in an identity theft monitoring service. Of questionable value, I know, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Only Sony knows how many PSN members pay the extra $50 a year for PlayStation Plus membership, but as the service launched less than a year ago, I'd wager it's a relatively small number. Most PS3 owners use the PSN gratis and still enjoy access to all the core features (unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Live, where virtually all are held behind a $50 "Gold" membership barrier). Debate the subjective value of either service all you like, Sony has Microsoft beat hands-down when it comes to services outside the pay wall.

Sony’s network was hacked by one or more individuals with intent to do catastrophic harm to Sony, as well as—by proxy—the tens of millions of users whose information was breached. I’ve called the hackers "philosophically sophomoric reprobates," because they are. That much, at least, isn’t up for discussion.

What is, is whether Sony’s “apology” package is enough.

As reparations go, I say it’s more than enough. Yes, time is money, and the time lost here is either incalculably great or small, depending on your vantage. But the cost in dollars alone is trifling: less than a month disconnected, or—when you do the math—about $3.50 of PlayStation Plus members’ $50 annual total. The cost to non-PP members is essentially zero (all of this assuming, of course, that members were able to access services like Netflix irrespective of PSN authentication, as users repeatedly claim they were able to).

Yes, your inability to link up with a friend in a cooperative game of Portal 2 was compromised, along with hundreds of other online game-related matchups, and that’s surely tragic. But let's keep this outage contextual. I’ve had worse, far more impacting experiences with vendors who’ve done less than a fraction what Sony’s offered so far in recompense.

For instance: I’ve suffered extended periods of intermittently available high-speed broadband service due to faulty vendor hardware that required elaborate, tortuous diagnostics—exponentially more harmful to me than something as trivial as a month of PSN downtime. The broadband provider's reparations? Not even credit toward the period the service was in flux. Sony’s “reimbursements” seem a king’s ransom by comparison.

All I want from Sony is a virtual guarantee this won’t happen again. That’s all I’d guess any of us really expect from online service providers these days. Keep the service alive. Keep any sensitive personal and financial information we divulge secret and safe. Keep the bad guys out.

Anything more sounds like "entitlement complex" to me.

The apology I want has no arrival point or expiration date. It takes time, patience, and trust. You're either willing to give those or not. That's up to you. But hammering Sony for more in the way of financial restitution verges on pillaging, and for that, there's no excuse.

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Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
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