Reviewer Rodeo: The Great PSN Outage of 2011

Reviewer Rodeo: The Great PSN Outage of 2011

Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.

Error 80710A06. The Playstation Network is down for maintenance. Under different circumstances, these messages would be met with a sigh, minor frustration, and brief shift in gaming plans. Last week, though, saw an extremely long outage of the PSN service coupled with too-late notification that a great deal of personal data had been compromised. ZTGD.com’s reviewers respond to the PSN outage and Sony’s response to the problem.

John “Dubya” Whitehouse
Well, what can I say? We all know that Sony can be extremely stubborn when it comes to the PS3, especially with the users. Its been hard for them, coming off of the huge success of the PS2, to accept that they are no longer top dog and cannot simply do as they please.

This stubbornness and refusal to back down may have been their downfall. Now, I’m not saying that the hackers are in the right; far from it. They show a spoiled child’s mentality, and have no consideration for the legitimate users (no matter what they say). They are not doing this to prove a point, nor are they doing it to exact some kind of misplaced justice. They are doing it because they can, and to make themselves look big and clever. Sure, it was a bad move by Sony to remove the other OS feature (the original reason for geohotz hacking it), but they had every right to.

Because Sony wouldn’t back down, it has only made it easy for the hackers to justify their actions. The real losers are the users like you and me, the people who have no interest in hacking the machine to pirate games, the people who only want to enjoy games and play online.

With Sony confirming that personal information has been lifted from their servers, and the likelihood that credit/debit card details were also taken, it’s going to be very difficult for Sony to regain the trust of their consumers. This sort of error is almost unforgivable and will leave Sony open to many lawsuits if it does turn out that people have had money taken from their accounts due to this error.


No doubt, Sony will be reimbursing those of us that pay for PS+, but they will also need to do something for all account holders to make up for this! Lets just hope that their rebuilt security system will stop this sort of thing from ever happening again. But unfortunately, hackers are the persistent type!

What does the future hold? I have to worry as every other attempt Sony has made to block the hackers has failed and it will only be a matter of time before the console is hacked again. With massive games such as infamous 2 and uncharted 3 on the horizon, you have to wonder if sales of these games, and indeed the console, will permanently suffer from the situation.

Whatever happens with the whole PSN outage situation, it’s going to have a negative effect in the future. With the PS3 being as open as it is we have had things like the BBCiPlayer (as well as ITV and 4OD), LoveFilm and the ability to play avi files. We can be sure that when the PS4 is released, it will be a locked down system, much like the 360.

Drew “Frustrated Fury” Leachman
The only positive piece of this whole fiasco is that I have a newfound respect for the single player games out there. It let me catch up on my backlog that included the fantastic Assassin’s Creed II. What got me the most is the fact I couldn’t use Netflix. That is my main source of entertainment due to my current situation.

The way Sony has handled this situation is completely unacceptable. The mere fact that they knew someone had hacked into their system, they should have told PSN users that their information might have been compromised, even if the information wasn’t. I feel for the people that are still weary of this intrusion. I have always used PSN cards. This just solidifies my choice to continue to use them.

While Sony certainly is to blame for poor security, much of this relies on the “outside sources” that intruded on the PSN. For those people that may be responsible, I give them a big middle finger. They aren’t hurting Sony, the are hurting the very people they are “fighting for.” Grown up, you children. I know some PS plus members are missing out on some content they paid for. Now, I don’t expect anything back from the whole outage. To be honest, what it all boils down to is the fact that I just want to play my games.

Justin “Killer Wolverine” Testa
As we see the number outcry against Sony due to the PSN troubles, it is clear that the vast majority of gamers use online functionality in some sort. If you are a gamer in any sense of the word, what is going on with Sony affects you, whether your personal info was stolen or not. What both MS and Sony need to take away from this is that their online services are a form of social media and need to be heavily secured. Personal info is at stake and, as many gamers recently found out, is now in the hands of people who have nothing better to do than cause grief. Obviously, this is unacceptable. But, while this has cause a headache for the lot of us, it will lead to good things. You had better believe that Sony will beef up their security measures to ensure that this sort of thing will never happen again. And, Microsoft, please take note of what has happened and take the proper steps to make sure this does not happen to you.


And now, a very special message from the President of Gaming:

“My fellow gamers, Today, I am addressing the attacks on Sony’s PlayStation Network. Let me first say that, to those that have directly felt the effects of these malicious accords, you have the gaming community’s, deepest condolences, along with my own. Having said that, I implore you to continue to support Sony in any way you can. I know that this hard to do, but if we do not support them during their time of need, we let these terrorists win. You have to understand that Sony has taken responsibility and is doing everything in their power to correct this. And, while these hackers have caused a lot of us a major headache, please know that Sony will correct what was done. While they haven’t come out and said what they plan to do, I firmly believe that they will not just throw us under the bus. I know it is easy to take your anger out on Sony, and I understand why, but you are directing your anger toward the wrong people. These terrorists want us to point the finger of blame to Sony. They want to divide us as gamers. And we simply cannot let this happen.

When this is over, we have to look past this and have confidence that these kinds of attacks will not happen again. I’m sure that someone out there will be stupid enough to try something like this again. While this is troubling that this could happen again, it helps Sony find security flaws. This is a horrible way to find those flaws and is unacceptable. Sony needs to address this with their staff and hire people who are more qualified to help prevent future attacks. And, if someone else gets by Sony’s security measures and gets caught, Sony must not settle with these terrorists. These terrorists must be punished to the fullest extent of the law and be thrown into federal “pound me in the ass” prison. If you have anything to be angry at with Sony, it is letting Anonymous and his helpers get away with their attacks. As gamers, it is time to take a stand for those that intend to do us harm. These attacks hurt us all in some way. Once this over, we need to hear from Sony and force them to tell us what they are doing to make sure this kind of thing does not happen again. And, if it does happen again, to let the public know and better communicate with us what exactly is going on. For it is our right to know this information.

I know it may seem easy for me to say all this, but know it is not, for I have been directly affected by these attacks. And while this has outraged me, I stand, and will continue to stand, with Sony and I urge you to do the same. But, Sony, please take note: ‘fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can’t get fooled again.’ Thank you.”

Michael “Red Pen of Doom” Futter
As I mentioned on Twitter, stuff happens, hackers are going to be jerks, and downtime is inevitable. The bad communication policies, though, are 100% Sony’s fault. In this day of instantaneous communication via Twitter and Facebook, the radio silence from Sony was completely unacceptable. It’s not that Sony doesn’t have a Twitter presence for it’s Playstation brand (it does: @Playstation), it’s that they don’t know how to use the service effectively for crisis management.

It’s also not as if they don’t have a model to learn from. They do. XBox Live’s Director of Programming, Larry Hryb (@MajorNelson), and Stephen Toulouse (@Stepto) the Director of XBox Live Policy Enforcement are avid Twitter junkies both personally and professionally. During past XBL downtimes and data management issues (@Stepto’s own Gamertag was invaded via social engineering) these two have been there with up to the minute status reports. Additionally, both gentlemen interact with the community. This helps make the best of bad situations.


All of this boils down to a direct comparison between Microsoft’s more transparent approach to Sony’s tight-lipped demeanor. More importantly, it’s a comparison between a customer-oriented focus and corporate “cover your ass” mentality. One wins friends, the other alienates consumers.

The worst part of this whole damn thing, though, is that Sony suspected a data breach over a week before they informed PSN users. Note: I said, “suspected.” As my colleagues stated, even if Sony wasn’t sure that data had been compromised, the company should have warned us to immediately cancel any payment methods associated with our PSN accounts and to change passwords as necessary. Now, we have users reporting fraudulent charges and hacked email accounts where the passwords are the same.

You blew it, Sony. Not only have you exposed thousands of users to identity theft, but you made it worse by covering your own ass instead of protecting your customers. You have a long road ahead to rebuild the trust you abused. The first step is opening up and telling us exactly what happened. Anything short of that is a slap in the face.

That’s all for this edition of the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Join us next week as we grab onto another bucking bronco of controversy and beat it into submission.

Got questions or comments? Drop ’em in the comment section below or hit us up via email. Suggestions for Reviewer Rodeo topics that you want our opinions on? Hit Mike up at [email protected].

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