PlayStation Network hack, down time may cost Sony billions

martes, 24 de mayo de 2011 - Publicado por Manuel en 2:13

As you may know, Sony Playstation Network, the online platform providing services to the Playstation 3 users, suffered an attack by a group of hackers a month ago (Whether the hacktivist group Anonymous was involved or not its argueable). A group of hackers managed to get access to PS users database, obtaining data from almost 10 million users, credit card information, cvv codes and more. The story went on , with users from underground forums offering these databases for sale, arguing that Sony did not want to buy it.It seemed that the servers Sony was using were not updated, and there was no firewall to block incoming connections. Even my wi-fi connection seems to be safer.

Yesterday, Sony announced that the Playstation Network may not be fully back till May the 31st, and analysts estimated a loss for Sony of £758.8millions. That £ means  British pounds, by the way.

So basically, we have a system when a company, Sony, owns the physical platform (hardware) for videogames, and the online platform (channel), the Playstation Store, where PS3 owners can buy games and Downloadable content (DLC)  for their Blue Ray videogames. All paid in cash of course. There is a trend in game developing to offer games at lower prices, and then add extra features as DLC that the user can purchase. This way the streams of revenue for both Sony and publishers increase, mainly because these DLC are all in digital format, with almost no cost attached. I tried to find the P&L for Playstation, but with no success.

So a disruption on the only channel publishers can sell their addons for their games, is hurting them. On an industry mainly based on time to market, where a delay on a videogame can make the company behind it loose money (ask why most of the releases are before Christmas, or better, ask 3D Realms what happened with Duke Nukem Forever)

As an example, Activision was about to release an addon for their most succesful game, Call of Duty: Black Ops. And the delay is making them millionaire losses. The same for Capcom. I hope the publishers are not using this as an excuse to sue Sony and get some millions back, at the traditional US style.
In my humble opinion, its not a big deal if publishers loose some bucks. Its not like they had many other choices to sell their products, specially now that most of them provide almost the same videogame to both platforms, XBOX 360 and PS3. The big problem, and that is unavoidable, is that this problem will cause a big damage to the trust users had on the PSN, and in the beginning of the 21st century, online payments are not perceived as reliable as real cash deals. This could make Playstation to loose many potential new users of their platform, or make actual users beware of purchasing content online. Moreover, if the credit card database starts to spread, Sony would be reliable for all the losses the users face. The nightmare for Sony has only started.