Experienced Points: PSN Relaunch Announcement

By Shamus Posted Friday May 20, 2011

Filed under: Column 130 comments


This is a bit unusual, but I hope you’ll bear with me. I ended up making my PSN post from earlier this week into my weekly column. If you missed it, check it out. If you already read it, then… you already read it.

Link (YouTube)

Now, The Escapist is a real online magazine and not just a blog-reposting machine, and having duplicate content is a no-no for them. They were cool with running my column, but not if I was also going to have it up at my blog. (There are a lot of reasons for this.) So I took it down here and put it up there. No big deal, right?


We had 104 comments on that post, and I didn’t feel right about nuking that entire discussion. So I moved that discussion to this post.

Sorry for the strangeness. And the lack of new content. My writer gland is thoroughly blocked right now. Hopefully I’ll have something novel to say next week.


From The Archives:

130 thoughts on “Experienced Points: PSN Relaunch Announcement

  1. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Oh, wow, that was shockingly well done.

    They could have handled this a thousand different ways, but this was one of maybe a dozen I would consider right, and it’s probably the best kind of right, too.

    It’ll be very interesting to see how this will affect Sony in the long term, though I get the feeling that the best approach will be to simply start hyping up their machines again, which should start at E3.

  2. Deadpool says:

    Truth be told, I was never a huge fan of Sony since long before the attack, but I must admit, this video endeared me to them just the same. Almost makes me wish I used the Playstation Network for… Well, anything.

  3. Even says:

    Even though I don’t own a PS3, it definitely makes me happy to see they’re willing to do the right thing. One should keep in mind though that they’re still a business and they will continue keep working like one, but it’s definitely one of the best kind of gestures of goodwill they could have ever given at this point.

  4. Lalaland says:

    I’m still not happy about the whole thing but the video apology was straight forward, honest and about the best they can do. The free games and credit monitoring service (tbd for Ireland, where I live) I regard as sops and almost mandatory respectively.
    This simple statement went beyond those and did help to express a genuine regret that would have seemed par-for-the-course from Patrick Seybold who has been doing most of the running until now. No disrespect to him but having the head of the gaming division deliver it shows a greater degree of humility for me.

  5. poiumty says:

    This could have made a good Experienced Points article.

    1. Shamus says:

      I hit publish, looked at the 920 word count, and slapped myself in the forehead. Yes, this would have been a perfect column.

      1. Noble Bear says:

        Here, you talked about why the apology works, next, for your column, you could talk about what you’d like to specifically see of Sony moving forward. I honestly don’t know if there’s anything there to be said, but I would be interested in reading a “now what?” column.

      2. MrWhales says:

        We won’t say anything if you take it down here >.>

      3. Volatar says:

        Hit delete and republish with the Escapist. We won’t mind, and you need the money.

        1. Volatar says:

          Looks like that’s exactly what you did :)

      4. Reach says:

        I would like to see you compare this other “apologies” by EA, Activision, etc.

        1. Mike says:

          I would also like to see that.

          1. Volatar says:

            Me too.

          1. Alexander The 1st says:


    2. Lalaland says:

      +1 PR fascinates me, particularly the reactions to a complete face plant like this one.

    3. poiumty says:

      This has made a good Experienced Points article.

  6. Maldeus says:

    “I anticipated that they would be evasive about how the breech occurred”

    Not positive, but I think that should be “breach.”

    1. Lalaland says:

      Subtle one that, I made the same mistake on another forum recently.

    2. Nathon says:

      Wow, that is subtle. I’ll add a level of confidence though. A breech is a part of a gun or boat. You wanted breach.

    3. Shamus says:


      Wasn’t even a typo. That was just me not knowing one word from another.

      So… awesome.

      1. deiseach says:

        You learn a new thing every day. Just ask Sony

      2. lazlo says:

        But sometimes mistakes are just so awesome too. Look at the word you used: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/breech. The first definition is the most perfect, “a garment to cover the buttocks”, since the whole point of this article was amazement at the fortitude shown by Sony *not* covering their buttocks. The only other interesting definition is the fifth, which has to do with being born backwards and upside down, and seems more appropriate to an article about maybe Mass Effect 2.

        Of course, “breach” makes me think of Henry V and “once more into the breach!” which doesn’t make any sense at all in the hacking-a-system sense of the word.

        1. Chargone says:

          actually, it does. in both cases it is a reference, or has it’s origen in, the idea of smashing in a wall.. there by breaching/making a breach in it. wall of stone or wall of fire, same thing *shrugs*

  7. Nathon says:

    I found it odd that they listed “monitoring” as one of their new security measures. Products that monitor traffic looking for exploits have been around for over 10 years. I work on one that does that, but also blocks the stuff it deems bad and it came out in its first generation something like 6 years ago.

    Still, this is about the best PR move they could have made. I don’t use PSN for anything, so they don’t have my credit card info and the password I gave them was a throwaway. So maybe I’m more inclined to be forgiving.

    Anyway, the thing you referred to about how no network can ever be secure is both true and irrelevant. Good on them for leaving it out.

  8. silver says:

    He was a bit vague on the measures they took in response. “Advanced Security Technology and Increased Encryption” can mean a lot of things. Then again, only a small percentage of customers would understand something more technical, so hopefully they have supplemental material.

    1. Robyrt says:

      Frankly, almost anything would be increased security technology from their previous setup.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      I think part of why they did cover those parts was to cover the fact that people were getting all angry about unencrypted user information, lack of firewalls, and the fact that they couldn’t have noticed it during the attack, and it took them so long to figure out how to fix it.

      For Advanced Security Technology, they probably are intentionally vague because you don’t want hackers to know what those are – they may already know the bugs of certain “Advanced Security Technology”.

    3. Chris B Chikin says:

      I noticed that as well. I think it was just a case of them not wanting to confuse people by going into excessive jargon but it did seem like he was using kind of vague buzzwords that you might just have easily applied to what was in place beforehand.

  9. Peter H. Coffin says:

    In a lot of ways, most of what you’ve outlined, actually, this is a precisely Japanese way of handling the an announcement of this sort. See also the announcements Tokyo Electric Power has been making over the past two months.

    1. Neil says:

      Yeah, making an outright apology and accepting guilt is fairly standard in Japanese business culture. In fact, its so common, a lot of people tend to be skeptical of the sincerity of these apologies. Remember when everyone was berating Toyota on their mysterious acceleration problem? The CEO made an public apology accepting guilt for the issue, even though they knew, like we know now, that there wasn’t any demonstrable problem with their cars.
      Better than the alternative, though.

    2. Mari says:

      It’s more than a little confusing, though. For instance, take a look at this PSN thing. The darned networks are down for something like 5 days before Sony even bothers to acknowledge that there’s a problem. Then they’re as vague as possible about the nature of the problem for as long as possible. Then, suddenly, this communique featuring all of the information, acknowledgement of fault, everything that could be asked for by the public.

      Similarly, in the wake of the earthquakes I was hearing a lot of complaints from friends in Japan that there was next to no information coming out from authorities about the nuclear reactor situation. The public didn’t know what was going on and got very panic-y as a result. As long as the situation persisted, officials were so vague with information as to seem to be deliberately obfuscating. Once everything was resolved it was suddenly time to admit fault and spill their guts, though.

      I think it’s awesome that admission of fault and such clear statements of the situation are part of the Japanese culture but I really wish they would get a grip on how to deal with the immediate fallout of bad situations. Maybe it’s ok with PSN (marginally at least) to keep things muzzy for so long but in life-or-death emergency situations there’s really no excuse for the lack of clear communication at the time it’s most immediately important. I know it takes time to properly assess things but c’mon, really? This long?

      1. ehlijen says:

        I have no idea how true what I’ve been told is and I fear I may be edging too far into naional stereotyping (and if I am, please delete this or tell me to edit it back out, as that is the last thing I want to do!), but I was once warned by a friend to avoid flying with Japanese airlines for this reason:

        While admitting guilt and accepting blame are said to be fairly acceptable practices in Japanese culture, casting blame on your superiors is a big taboo. In the example I was told, the point was that even if they knew their flight captain was doing something wrong, japanese co-pilots have been reported to keep quiet rather than risk offending their direct superior (ie the pilot). And there are few things more life or death than a passenger plane in a crisis.

        If that is a true assessment, I can see officials keeping quiet about a crisis until someone assumes the blame because saying anything before then would be casting blame disrespectfully.

        Again, this is second hand and maybe be conjecture rather than fact.

      2. Noble Bear says:

        They might have a stronger cultural impetus to save face or to wait to report when they understand or have full addressed the issue.

    3. Soylent Dave says:

      Yeah, I was thinking that.

      It’s not the first time I’ve seen a be-suited Japanese man calmly explaining why everything was his fault into a camera.

  10. fluffy says:

    “There will be a small number of people who bought a new Playstation 3 between the breech and now, and Sony can deal with those cases individually.”

    Those cases are a non-issue, as they won’t have a PSN account to begin with.

    1. burningdragoon says:

      I believe he meant people who had a PS3 already and have gotten a new one since the network was down.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        The video addresses the need to change passwords without using the same PS3 it was created on, it’s done with the email.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          Which is good as a fallback, because *technically*, they will still be a small amount of people, but the rest of the people can be authenticate another way, and we don’t have to worry about the crazy e-mail.

          This way, hackers can’t request a million password resets.

    2. MintSkittle says:

      If they bought used, the PS3 might already be tied to an existing account, so there could be issues.

      1. Sumanai says:

        PS3s can have several accounts, so I’m guessing that more than one account can be tied to a single console. Of course, that’s assuming the system is sensible.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          The tieing is from the account to the PS3, not the other way around.

          I wonder, could the salt for the password be uniquely identifiable to the PS3 it was activated on?

  11. Greg says:

    That’s a work of art. Listen to the ‘tock’ noise that repeats throughout the entire thing and is almost quiet enough that you might not conciously register that you’ve heard it (except where there are little flourishes of sound around key points). The rythm is slow and simple, but not too simple. The pacing and level of his speech are the same way and the duration of the fades (a couple of frames longer than you’d usually expect) adds to the effect. As a package it comes off sounding reasonable, calm and considered.

  12. Rayen says:

    quick note. He said the original PS3 they set up their PSN account with. That means the trouble won’t be for people who bought a PS3 since the breach occurred but rather those that lost a PS3 after making an account and replacing that PS3. Although he said they would have e-mail verification as well.

    I’ve always liked Sony. If i wasn’t so poor i’d probably have a PS3. Anyway this is about the best thing they could do short of nightly fireside chats explaining what happened and why and how it will be fixed, but hey, not everyone can be FDR. Good apology and seemed sincere. i hope they continue this behavior.

  13. Vegedus says:

    10. It’s a japanese man talking in flawless english! When was the last time you saw something like that?!

    1. poiumty says:

      The accent is fairly obvious though.

      1. Deadpool says:

        Reminds me of the Dharma training videos…

    2. Soylent Dave says:

      Any time a Japanese executive or Government minister makes a presentation aimed at English speakers.

      They tend to expect the same from us as well (and as a result are usually bitterly disappointed)

      1. Bubble181 says:

        Yes. All stereotypes aside, American (and English) accents in other languages are very often worse than other language’s accents in English/American. French have the same problem; whereas Germans have it hardly at all. It has to do with thinking who’s more important. A German, Russian, Japanese manager communicating with an American client will go to far greater lengths to get the language right than is usually the case the other way ’round.

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          It’s probably because neither we nor the French make anything other than a cursory attempt to learn anyone else’s language – they all speak ours* anyway, so what’s the point, right?

          *well, in the case of the French it’s more of a ‘protest against English’ thing, really. Same outcome though.

          1. False Prophet says:

            It was once explained to me that thanks to their strict education system, the French don’t like to sound stupid. They would rather come across as rude than stupid. Hence, they avoid speaking in languages they’re not perfectly fluent in if they can at all help it.

            1. Soylent Dave says:

              The French also have an enormous chip on their shoulder about English becoming the global lingua franca, and are determined that French won’t become ‘a local dialect’ – their government have variously passed laws forbidding English labelling of foodstuffs, and there’s a sizeable bloc (headed by the Forum Francophone International) who endeavour to create proper French words for new things rather than tolerating the use of Francified English (e.g. l’internet), and want to forbid the use of English in science, commerce and industry.

              This has varying levels of success, but the net result is you rarely see any French official speaking English with anything other than an outrageous accent (and then only when being interviewed on British TV…)

              It’s understandable, to a degree.

  14. Dovius says:

    Damn good vid, I was half-expecting Kevin Butler to be the guy who did the announcement in Sony’s typical fashion.
    But this was honest, humble and reassuring, and at least now I know that the PS3 I’ll be buying in a bit is gonna be decently secured.

    1. Thomas says:

      That was a bullet dodged. I can’t think of anything that would be more inappropriate that they may have considered, except for a “screw you, you’ve already invested in a playstation”

      I’m all for Kevin, but not right now

      1. Zukhramm says:

        I couldn’t even remember who Kevin Butler, but then images from last years E3 I thought I had managed to get rid of. Oh, that guy. Yeah, good thing it wasn’t him.

  15. Chris B Chikin says:

    The fact that the announcement was given by a friendly looking asian man dressed in casual but formal attire while soothing ambient music gets played in the background doesn’t hurt :P

    Also, I think the reason for using one of the slightly less senior guys was also deliberate. If we saw the same message from the guy on top then the more cynical of us might be less likely to believe him. By using someone a little further down the food chain the apology seems to come from someone closer to our own level, which makes it easier to empathise and believe what he’s saying. It says “This has been a problem for everyone at Sony, and not just our CEO’s bottom line,”

    (For the record, I agree with Shamus that the apology was sincere and exactly what PSN users needed and deserved to hear, and for all the reasons he gives. Just pointing out there’s still a wee bit of showmanship going on as well)

    1. Stellar Duck says:

      Just as well they didn’t have to use Ken Kutaragi. I seem to remember him being a bit… problematic at times when it came to public statements.

    2. Mistwraithe says:

      I think one can assume that the entire presentation had a huge amount of time and effort spent on planning, rehearsing and polished it. So yeah, I agree, the entire thing is showmanship.

      That they have done this very deliberately doesn’t remove one iota of credit for the message they are sending and the manner in which they have done it. They could easily have gone completely the opposite direction and it is nice to see they have decided to eat humble pie.

      1. Chris B Chikin says:

        …Or at least pretended to in a very convincing manner :P

        1. Mistwraithe says:

          Exactly. Whatever they showed us was always going to contain a large element of pretence. So what is interesting is not THAT they are pretending, it is WHAT they are pretending.

  16. JimminyJoJo says:

    I trust him because he has a lightsaber on his desk. The 360 is not the console I’m looking for…

    1. Chris B Chikin says:

      Darth Hirai: Where are those user accounts you hacked? What have you done with those passwords?

      Hacker: We hacked no user accounts. Aaah….This is a legitimate organisation.

      Darth Hirai: If this is a software company where is the CEO?

      [Force chokes Hacker and throws him to the floor]

  17. Factoid says:

    This was the right thing to do, but it’s going to cost Sony a fortune. Shamus is exactly right about why companies issue non-apologies as a standard (we’re sorry this happened, versus we’re sorry we screwed up).

    The inevitable class action lawsuit is going straight to trial now. No lawyer in their right mind would accept a settlement when they’ve got a public admission of guilt.

    So instead of settling for a few million bucks they could lose hundreds of millions or a billion or more in court. Especially if the lawsuit is heard in a state like Louisiana with traditionally sympathetic juries and no restriction on punitive damages.

    1. Fnord says:

      Watch it again. He neatly threads the needle, avoiding both a non-apology and an admission of wrongdoing/negligence. Pay attention to what EXACTLY his apology is for: “the inconvenience this service outage has caused you”.

  18. Yar Kramer says:

    They didn’t put him on a white set with the Sony logo behind him.

    This caused me to hear the Aperture Science jingle in my head. Now I’m imagining what would’ve happened if they got hacked or something else like this happened. Mostly in terms of the looks on the bean-counters’ faces as Cave Johnson shot himself in the foot and their PR in the head.

    Mind you, the idea of people trusting Aperture Science enough for millions of customers to give them their personal info in the first place is unrealistic at best, but … ;)

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      “We let your accounts get hacked…For SCIENCE!”

      1. Jarenth says:

        ‘Turns out, if you let a few million accounts get hacked, a few million people suffer identity theft, and a few dozen laywers visit your office to discuss ‘class action lawsuits’ and ‘out-of-court settlements’. Bah, bunch of weasels! The important thing is that we LEARNED something here; and really, isn’t that what Science is all about?’

  19. ccesarano says:

    It has amazed me how much Sony has been turning around this generation. They have been doing it faster than Nintendo had managed, even (and is now a bit conceited themselves).

    Most of all, though, I do feel credit needs to be given to their IT team. You KNOW this past month has been Hell and they’ve all be working over time to get this fixed. I feel like every PSN user should submit some sort of Thank You card to the team for it. I hope that things have calmed enough at this point for them, because they deserve a vacation.

    I also wonder if this made Microsoft look at their own security system and are now quietly making sure Live is as secure as it can be.

    1. neolith says:

      If Microsoft gives GfWL a makeover, my guess is that they in the end manage to make things worse somehow. Again. ;)

    2. Blackbird71 says:

      Wait a minute, they deserve a thank you card for fixing something that should not have been a problem in the first place? Seriously? I see this type of mentality at my work at times, and it makes me sick. The way it usually goes is that someone on a particular project gets called in while they’re out on vacation, or they have to put in extended overtime/weekends, in order to fix a major disaster. When the job is done, of course they get heaped with praise and receive an award for their efforts (awards around here include a cash bonus, so nothing to sneeze at). But all this is done in spite of the fact that the whole reason that there was a disaster to begin with was because this same person failed to do their job correctly the first time. Rewarding people for fixing a crisis that they created is just ludicrous.

  20. Randy Johnson says:

    This guy is the Japanese Trump, watch his hand movements and facial expressions. The only difference is this guy speaks more intelligible english

  21. Ian says:

    As someone who’s been a very harsh critic of this whole debacle, this video is making me reconsider selling my PS3.

    I doubt I’ll keep my PlayStation Plus subscription active after what happened, but I’ll at least stick with the platform.

  22. Mari says:

    Another plus in the Sony camp arrived in our mailbox last week. GameStop is offering $100 off new PS3s. I wonder how much of that hundred bucks is subsidized by Sony? See, that’s actually a really smart marketing ploy right there. “You were still on the fence about a PS3 and the PSN debacle pushed you over one side? Here! This hundred bucks off coupon should bring you back to our camp.”

    1. ccesarano says:

      Last week I tried to get inFamous for $10 from Best Buy. I couldn’t find one. Now I know why. I can get it and Little Big Planet for free.

      God loves me and Playstation 3, apparently.

  23. neolith says:

    It’s a good video and I have to agree that this is possibly the best they could have said under the given circumstances.

    However this is still the company that managed to get their customers’ data stolen, that sold rootkits to their customers and that doesn’t allow its customers to use their PSPs or PS3s the way they want. I don’t think much has changed. Therefore I still avoid their products and services like the plague.

    It would be nice if the security disaster might bring up a better Sony after all – but that remains to be seen…

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      To be fair, Nintendo doesn’t let it’s customers use their products the way they want. Nor does Apple, from a hardware/software standpoint for both of these.

      Neither does Microsoft for its software, with its DRM media viewing.

      As for having their customer data being stolen, well, it’s not like Facebook had a data api leak for 2 years they just fixed or anything.

      tldr; Mistakes happen, nobody is taking the high road – it’s too costly.

      1. neolith says:

        I cannot seem to follow you – how exactly do the points you mentioned justify Sony’s actions?

        1. acronix says:

          I think the argument is “Every software-related business does that”.

          1. ehlijen says:

            Yay, must find bridge to jump off after all the other people!

            Just because everyone’s doing it or everyone’s threatened by it, doesn’t mean Sony can slack off on their security which is what appears to have happened.

            It’s entirely possible that with better security they’d still have been hacked, but all we know is that what they had wasn’t enough, so clearly they should have gone for more.

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              The thing about security – if your an IT server admin, and you tell your boss Sony needs to shell out +$700 just to upgrade the servers and keep them safe, and they hadn’t been attacked in…what, a couple years until this foray of them? Your manager is probably going to laugh, and tell you that “[t]he annual budget doesn’t account for that, and besides – we’re an entertainment service company. Why would anyone want to hack our servers? We have nothing of value for them that they can’t get anywhere else.”

              The situation’s likely changed now, but I don’t see it as being impossible to have within Sony before the whole sequence of events.

              EDIT: Also, it’s about competition – if the opposing companies aren’t investing in solving the problem, why should you waste money on trying to come up with better solutions than they have? There’s little competition in the “customer good will” market when everyone else is just like you.

  24. MrWhales says:

    Shamus, you pointed out something i didn’t know i realized. What you say about them being cocky and going on like it was their market by default. See, I’ve been slightly against Sony for about as long as i can remember. But what i never figured out was why. I think that that is why. But wi9th this whole PSN thing, it makes them show humility and I feel swayed somewhat towards them. Also it helps that i finally looked into PS3 and that. They seem rather good.
    Edit: So what i am saying is that if they have truly changed, then they bought themselves a new customer. And if anyone else is like me, then i’m sure they will be the same

  25. Vekni says:

    A corporation is a corporation and I hold no loyalty to something that has no loyalty to me, buuuuuuuuuut yes, this is most excellent and I do hate to see what happened to Sony in the last several years. You nailed it on the head saying they acted like the market was theirs by right-that attitude of “we have dominated for the last two console generations, we make the rules now and everyone-consumers included-plays by our word” is what allowed Sony to slip in and dethrone Nintendo to begin with and then cost them the throne this time around. I wonder if we’ll ever see a console dominate for beyond two generations in a row?

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      Microsoft next? Or is Sega going to take a face heel return into the hardware market?

      1. Vekni says:

        Microsoft has yet to dominate. Wasn’t top dog with the first system, and the Wii arguably dominates this generation-but even if we agree that the Threeshitty is the leading console, that’s just one.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          I was thinking next-gen.

          Keep in mind, the 360 is not as expensive as the PS3, and more value-addable with better games than the Wii (Let’s not mince words – Every console has lemons and shovelware, but the Wii definently has a much smaller good/shovel ratio than anything else right now – I blame first party domination.), and better online support than them both (Though that could remain to be seen this generation, so far, so good). The Kinect hacks also work towards good will, if nothing else.

          Microsoft’s main Archille’s heels right now? The fact that the online is a paid subscription, and that a large portion of its library is either shared with PC, PS3, or both. The Kinect might be changing that, but it remains to be seen.

          P.S. The RROD? That was more of an Archille’s in-grown toenail.

  26. Sean Riley says:

    Shamus, maybe for your next Experienced Points, you can take on the “No Network is Ever Secure” meme? Schneier’s been a big proponent of it, and in its most basic form (“Any network can be breached, the only question is how hard”) I’m generally in agreement with it.

    I’d be keen to see your take.

    1. Fnord says:

      Keep in mind that Schneier doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be liable if your network is breached.

      1. Sean Riley says:

        Right. He thinks liability is good, as it encourages safer practices… but the key word is safeR. No network is SAFE remains a truth. No house is safe. No car is. Anything can be breached given enough effort.

  27. Fnord says:

    I don’t think you’ve got it quite right. It is very effective, but for those reasons? What mistakes did they actually admit? The only thing he apologized for is the outage, not the breach itself. As you say, he actually DOES say that nobody is secure. He just doesn’t dwell on it.

    Rather, I would say that what makes it effective is that he didn’t make excuses, and he didn’t try use double-talk to minimize the problem. This is NOT the same thing as admitting mistakes (certainly, it’s very different from a liability perspective). When he says that no technology can prevent hacking, the context is not “so it’s not our fault”, it’s “but here is what we CAN do, and what we will do in the future.”

    Which brings me to the second thing that was effective: he stays on message about the fact that they are improving things to fix the problem for customers. He doesn’t stop to do marketing or to wink at investors.

    The simple message is “There is a problem, and we are going to fix it, and here is how.” That’s a powerful message, and it’s a good thing to hear in this situation.

    If you listen with a cynical ear, though, there are a few notable things absent. He doesn’t apologize for the breach, even though it does appear that Sony wasn’t taking the proper security measures. He offers identity protection services to help regain trust, but he doesn’t actually take responsibility or admit liability for identity theft. Sure, legal concerns are driving those omissions. But they can’t have it both ways; those omissions minimize their liability, so you can’t really give them credit for putting customer service ahead of liability concerns.

    Less cynically, that also means that liability concerns aren’t an excuse to issue a non-apology. As this neatly shows, you can give an (apparently) heartfelt and substantive statement without sending an engraved invitation to plaintiffs.

    1. Shamus says:

      You caught it and I didn’t. I’ll have to go over it again and see what I missed.

      I like your take on it: This still shows that it’s possible to relate to customers without clumsy double-speak, arrogance, or trying to talk past them to investors.

      This should be Required Viewing at Activision.

      1. Yar Kramer says:

        I’m trying to imagine how Activition or EA would take this concept and go horribly wrong with it, but I have a feeling that what they actually did would be a whole lot worse than my imagination.

      2. Zaxares says:

        It’s definitely one of the more well-done public apologies from a big corporation that I’ve ever seen, but I couldn’t help but be mildly creeped out by how he kept SMILING all throughout the apology. O.o

      3. lazlo says:

        I just actually watched the video there… although it was fairly good, I wasn’t as impressed as you seem to have been. There was still a healthy dose of smug arrogance there. But I do have to agree with you that it’s much better than the way we’re used to being treated.

        On a side note though, is it just me, or if you close your eyes and listen to him, does it make you think we found Alan Alda’s long-lost Japanese brother?

        1. Mari says:

          So it wasn’t just me that was humming “Suicide is Painless” through the whole thing. Good.

    2. Steve C says:

      I liked the PR vid. Normally I loathe those sorts of things due to the standard double-talk etc. Shamus made good points and Fnord did too about why it’s effective. Contrary to Zaxares I liked the reassuring smile. I’ve seen the sad-face PR and it’s not as effective. Remember the South Park spoof of the BP oil spill?

      My question is what has Sony really learned from this saga? What have other companies learned?

  28. Voyd says:

    I wonder just how many people, when informed they must change their password before finally getting back to their online games, will select one of ‘fuckyou’ or ‘fucksony’.

    1. Traska says:

      Not me. I’m an SOE subscriber, and I had fears going into this. I foresaw them digging themselves a nice little hole, and then divorcing themselves from their MMO games division (SOE was hit, too, after all). It all came down to retention incentives. The right ones will win every time, the wrong ones will make you feel unwanted, and the disastrous ones do more harm than good. Disastrous in this case would be if their big incentive was “As an apology, for the next week all Station Points (their micropay currency) will be half off!”

      Instead, they gave everyone a free month plus one day for each day SOE was down. They’re throwing huge events, they’re having double XP periods. In short, they’re actually giving something of substance (and, in the free time, value) to those customers inconvenienced. Also, the free time is doubly brilliant, in that it applies to anyone who’s ever had an SOE account. I’m a subscriber, but I haven’t been a paid subscriber for a year now. But a month-plus of being able to play Everquest again? I may just re-up.

  29. TrentB says:

    I watched this three times. I can’t look away from this guy. What the hell.

    I’m freaking myself out a little.

    Also: I love their upgraded security system:
    Advanced Security Technology
    Increased Levels of Encryption
    Additional Firewalls
    Early Warning Systems

    It’s so fantastically vague! Like some random CEO-type fellow comes running down to the IT Department:

    CEO: “Ok guys, we need more security!”
    IT: “Uhhh….”
    CEO: “Can we get some uhh.. some more firewalls? Thats a thing right? More firewalls? What about some more encryption? Put some more technology in there as well.”
    IT: “Um what? We already have plenty of firewalls. Thats not really how-”
    CEO: “More Firewalls man! Don’t talk back! Listen I’ll go and get you guys some technology and you can put it in here. Turn it into security or whatever you geeks do. Ok? Ok.”
    IT: “Sir I don’t thin-”
    CEO: “Good talk!”

    Anyway. I’m going to go watch Kazuo talk some more. God dammit. I’ve never even played a Playstation.

    1. UtopiaV1 says:

      HA, funniest thing I’ve read all day, I can imagine that’s how most upper-management types see technology! Lucky I work for Geek Squad, everyone there knows more about technology than I do, and I did a programming degree…

      I love Kazuo’s speech though, he did seem pretty honest about it all. Except he did throw the catch-all statement of “Network’s will never be completely secure for the foreseeable future”, at least they’re making an effort to woo their customers back over. Should have been doing that since day 1 really, but I’m sure they had their reasons at the beginning.

      Maybe the arrogance thing was just, you know, a personality faà§ade? You know, for brand recognition? Apple comes over all friendly and able to speak to the common man, Microsoft comes over as the intellectual option with the best products, Nintendo is the family man, and Sony’s thing was being the arrogant mega-conglomeration. Obviously wasn’t working out for them, good thing they’re re-branding…

      That’s if it was even on purpose, which I doubt, but still… a man can kindle some faith in humanity, can’t he?

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      Funnily enough, using encryption for storage is actually a good idea, and a solid one. So is maintaining programs that watch for intrusion (‘early warning systems’).. And, well, firewalls are firewalls at the end of the day. So yes, it does sound silly, but it also is – once stripped of the casual wording – a completely normal and solid idea for security increase.

    3. Mari says:

      Because it would be way smarter and more secure to say “Our new security measures are AES 128 encryption, Collax Security Gateway firewall, blah, blah, blah.” I’m sure the folks who hacked the crap out of Sony this time won’t run out at all and start digging up the details on how to circumvent the new stuff the instant they know what it is, thus saving themselves valuable man-hours of the “probing the security” phase. No, I’m ok with Sony being vague here. Sure, it could be a cover for stupid but it could also just be smart. I’m not taking bets either way but I very much hope for the latter.

  30. False Prophet says:

    Although I’m steadily losing patience for console gaming in general, I’ll stick with Sony for the rest of this generation. This isn’t the first time a company I’ve had personal data on file with has been hacked, and thus far it looks like there’s been no repercussions on my end. I don’t do enough online gaming to justify going the XBox route.

    I think the corporate communications community is learning that being upfront and honest about your mistakes without necessarily admitting any wrongdoing outright (still have to appease legal, after all), and taking real and direct steps to correct the issue is what retains consumer confidence.

    A couple years ago here in Canada, one of the biggest food processing companies had a food poisoning outbreak that killed almost two dozen people and made many more sick. Maple Leaf quickly addressed the problem, shut down the offending plant and brought in better procedures and outside experts, and the CEO came out and did a mea culpa even more sincere than Hirai’s. They also settled with the victims quickly and without much fuss. Within a few months, they had almost regained their original market share, because the formula of confession followed by acts of contrition seemed to work with the public.

  31. Blackbird71 says:

    Meh, Sony lost my trust years ago, and I’m afraid that events like this do little to change that. I still blame them for John Smedley. Ever since getting burned, I’ve been of the firm opinion that Sony doesn’t care a bit for their customers, and no smiling man in a suit is going to change that. Actions just speak so much louder than words, and given their track record, I believe that the only reason they are offering any form of an apology now, or even addressing this breach, is because it affects their bottom line, not because they think they did something wrong.

    I had an SOE account that hasn’t been active in years, and I got an email from Sony regarding this disaster when they discovered that the SOE accounts were hacked as well. Thankfully there’s no current or valid financial information attached to that account any more! Even my home address and phone number would be out of date. The whole incident just makes me glad I stuck by my vow to avoid SOE at all costs.

  32. SteveDJ says:

    Now, for a completely different take on this video — while watching it, I see it is nighttime. I noticed the traffic behind him out the window. So, all I could do was think about Shamus’ screensaver project from a while back… :-)

  33. froogger says:

    Well done. Of course, when faeces eventually hits the fan, the Japanese are masters at bowing deep and taking responsibility with a heartfelt sumimasen.

    OTOH, I still haven’t forgiven them for putting rootkits on musicCDs a few years back.

    Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?
    – Thomas Hesse, President of Sony Digital Business

  34. Bai Shen says:

    Well, it looks like they haven’t learned their lesson. Check out what else Sony has been saying.


    Sony chief Sir Howard Stringer basically says that the crash was no big deal and that no network is 100% secure and that the bad guys are constantly getting better.

    WTF? Seriously. PSN wasn’t hacked because the bad guys got better or that no network is secure.. Sony didn’t even bother with basic security.

    1. Bai Shen says:

      They weren’t hacked. Someone just pointed out that the data needed to reset your password was the same as what was stolen. So Sony took the page back offline.

  35. Zak McKracken says:

    As friendly as the announcement is, and as well as they are handling it (yes, people who are able to apologize are too rare):
    The thing with PSN as well as lots of other games these days is that you need that stupid connection, user account and other stuff purely for DRM reasons. So, if that ist a vulnerable point, why not learn a lesson here and give their users the freedom to not be victims next time the network is down?
    That would have ben sooo cool!

    Yeah, but I’m not a console guy anyway, so whatever

  36. Even says:

    Well, nothing changes in essence, so I see no harm done. It DOES make for a good article. I suppose it’s only better now that it’s more accessible for the people who don’t frequent this blog.

  37. LMR says:

    Why is “duplicate content” a no-no when seemingly every news article is a link to someone else?

    1. Shamus says:

      Verbatim duplication is a no-no. Notice that even if the article is a link to a KOTAKU article with no new real content, a writer sits down and puts everything into their own words.

      Google checks for an penalizes this. Plus, it’s bad form for pro journalists.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Huh. Even when the duplicate is made by the original author and posted by himself?

        So if you would write a novel and published it, by, say, ‘PublisherA’ and ‘PublisherB’, you’d have to write two different versions of your novel then? //I know how plagiarism mandates go, but it seems odd that it is applied against the original author as well.

        1. BenD says:

          Generally speaking and as an oversimplification: novel Publisher A retains full rights to the publication of your novel, which makes it illegal for you to try to get B to publish it. Furthermore, Publisher B won’t deal with you anyway, because they can find out that Publisher A already has the property.

          It was once fairly common for an author of an article published on the internet to retain rights to publish that article (usually with links) on his or her own personal site as well, but with the advent of Google’s efforts to downgrade material that appears in multiple locations (non-unique material is considered likely to be of lesser quality), that’s pretty much disappeared.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          Aside from the impact on Google rankings, The Escapist (like many magazines) uses the fact that it provides ‘original content’ as a selling point.

          That’s ‘selling point’ for readers – it’s probably the main reason most people visit the site – as well as (more importantly) for advertisers – there’s something unique on the Escapist that people will visit that web page just to read, so if you want to advertise to those people, you know who to talk to.

          If some or all of that content is reprinted verbatim elsewhere on the net, then readers will go elsewhere to read it (like here, for example); which means the advertising revenue goes down, too.

          Even when it’s only a single, minor hit to the readership regarding a single article – it’s still going to affect it negatively. Which isn’t what you want when you’re running a magazine…

          (and presumably they also pay Shamus accordingly* for this privilege; they’ve got exclusive rights to his Escapist-published content – that’s worth more than “we’re one of the places on the ‘net you can read this article by Shamus”)

          *Not that ‘accordingly’ means anything other than ‘a bit more’; I freelanced a bit for IGN (before they were evil, honest), so I’m not exactly under the impression that videogame writers get paid squillions of dollars…

  38. SteveDJ says:

    I’m a bit surprised you didn’t add any of the newest information, about their password reset security hole (and having to take it back down again). Would have been a nice post-script to the original article.

  39. Rosseloh says:

    Shamus, you clever bastard…

  40. Irridium says:

    Boy, this’ll be awkward what with many people saying “you should put this on The Escapist”.

    1. poiumty says:

      Nonsense. We’re simply crying encore. What we’re saying is he should put this on the escapist AGAIN.

      (incoming infinite loop)

  41. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Hopefully I'll have something novel to say next week.”

    But there will be no next week!Today was your last chance to post something before the world ends!!

    1. BenD says:

      Maybe he’ll have something to say about a novel next week!

      1. Rosseloh says:

        I’m surprised it took that long for someone else to pick up on his wording.

  42. NihilCredo says:

    Hi Shamus! Could you say if we can look forward to a few blog posts about The Witcher 2 from you?

    1. acronix says:

      I support this motion!

  43. Max says:

    I guess if you have trouble coming up with new things to make posts about you can look at other blogs for interesting topics to talk about. I’m sure they won’t mind.

  44. Eärlindor says:

    Hey Shamus,

    I sent you some links, as you requested a week ago (I think). First one turned out to be a dud, so we got that fixed and sent some new ones. Did you get those emails?

    Btw, sorry I’m posting this here; I would avoid it, but I’m not sure how else to get a hold of you.

  45. Veloxyll says:

    If not novel, maybe at least news?

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