A Breach of Trust
By Lim Kuan Keat - on 09 May 2011, 7:19pm

It’s been nearly 3 weeks now since the infamous PSN security breach that caused all of PSN services to go down. While I haven’t been greatly affected by the matter since I usually use prepaid cards and prefer single-player games, I did get a couple queries from worried colleagues and family members over whether their credit card details are safe with PSN.

But I can understand the frustration of players not being able to indulge in multiplayer games. After all, there’s only so many times you can replay a single-player game that you’ve already completed (unless you are a trophy whore), and multiplayer is one of the best form of competitive entertainment, since you are not dealing with scripted or predictable enemy A.I. movements.

I am more upset over the fact that a multi-corporation like Sony has allowed this matter to happen. From the lackadaisical attitude towards online security that allowed users personal data to be stolen to the incredibly long downtime of nearly 3 weeks (in latest news, Sony now says the downtime may last up until May 31), Sony hasn’t been forthcoming about its problems and has been slow to remedy the conundrum. In other companies dependent on network connectivity, such a long period of downtime would have already sparked an outrage among its customers, as well as resulted in near financial ruin.

Luckily, Sony’s revenue isn’t dependent on online gaming and the company has a large, faithful following of gamers that are quick to forgive, provided the flow of quality games continue to run. But Sony is likely to take a hit to the tune of 1 billion yen due to lost sales and compensation to both online game publishers and players. And this isn’t taking into account the extra dosh they’ll have to dole out for the beefed up security.

There are arguments that the security breach could have happened to anyone and that Sony just so happened to be the unfortunate target of the month. Perhaps, but any online company worth their salt would have immediately put into action emergency contingency plans to deal with the event of a security breach or prolonged network downtime. Waiting 6 days to inform users that their personal data may have been stolen and taking nearly 3 weeks to bring back online connectivity is just inexcusable for a company like Sony. You’d think these are the actions of a newbie company that only just launched PSN last month, not one that has been running the service since 2006.

Sony has already outlined a “Welcome Back” package for all affected PSN users, but it’s hard to feel excited over the promise of a free month of PlayStation Plus premium service and free “selected PlayStation entertainment content”. In the first place, PSN Malaysia doesn’t enjoy the high-def movie and music downloads of its American and Japanese counterparts so I’m wondering what kind of quality “PlayStation entertainment content” will Malaysian PSN users get (A free download of Trash Panic?). And a free month of PlayStation Plus is hardly an incentive when any free games tied to the service will become unavailable once the free period is up.

Whatever amends Sony decides to take to pacify PSN customers, the most important thing that the company has to learn from this lesson is to improve upon its after-sales services and crisis management. In an era of speedy notification and rectification, any prolonged delay in informing customers the true picture of the crisis or rectifying the situation will be quickly condemned. A security breach can be quickly fixed, but a breach of customer trust takes longer to repair.


Lim Kuan Keat

Lim Kuan Keat

As the Editor of GameAxis Unwired Malaysia, Lim Kuan Keat has the enviable job of playing and writing about the latest video game titles and trends in the market. He loves video games regardless of platform, and he hopes to see the hobby become more commonplace and accepted in Malaysia. He also digs movies, manga, anime, and occasionally a good book or two when he has the time, which he sadly lacks these days.