Sony brought its online gaming network, the PlayStation Network (PSN), offline today — though this time it was just for some scheduled maintenance. But the downtime was a frustrating reminder for many PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable owners, as well as developers, over how the company handled the PSN’s downtime.
“Thanks for the heads up. It’s nice to be prepared for downtime,” one commenter wrote on the PlayStation Blog’s most recent post about the scheduled maintenance downtime.
It was a frustration that echoed across a number of media sites — VentureBeat included — and Sony’s own PlayStation blog. You can see a comparison of some of the blog posts about the PSN’s downtime — with the number of comments that appeared on the blog post and the general rating for each blog post. Commenters could rate each blog post on a scale of one to five, and any blog post rated well under the average rating for Sony’s typical blog posts is labeled in red.
The information above was compiled by VentureBeat from the PlayStation Blog posts. Just about every post about the PSN’s downtime blitzed past the average reply count for posts on Sony’s PlayStation Blog (which VentureBeat measured across the first 100 posts before the PSN outage began.) Posts about the initial response to the downtime wer rated poorly, and the ratings gradually went up as more information about the outage came to light. The posts that offered little information (such as when Sony said it didn’t know when the network would come back online) were rated the worst among the PlayStation Blog.
Sony finally brought its beleaguered online gaming network back online last week after hackers were able to break in and steal sensitive information about more than 100 million PSN and Station.com users. That ended a 24-day period where PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable owners were unable to download new content for their games and play their games online with other players. Sony laid indirect blame for the PSN’s downtime on hacktivist group Anonymous, which typically rallies a group of loosely connected hackers under moral or political banners to take down large companies. Anonymous has denied that it was involved in breaking into and bringing down the PSN.
The company said the PlayStation Store would remain offline and it would still likely be up before the month is over. That conflicts with several reports that suggested the PlayStation Store would be online today. It’s a bummer for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable developers because they aren’t able to release downloadable content and new games on the PlayStation Store — all while other online game stores like the Xbox Live Arcade and Steam have remained online. Christian Svensson, senior vice president of game development studio Capcom, said on the company’s public forums that the downtime was costing his game development company “hundreds of thousands of dollars” because it could not sell downloadable games. Capcom is responsible for franchises like Street Fighter.
Obviously this isn’t a perfect snapshot of the community’s reaction to the PSN’s downtime. That will require some kind of sweeping survey. But the numbers seem to suggest that the community — at least, the community closest to the company that regularly participated on the blog — wasn’t as frustrated with Sony’s response to the downtime as the reaction from the rest of the world suggested. That could be because the PSN is free to use, unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Live, which charges a monthly fee to play online games and download arcade games.
We’ll be exploring the most disruptive game technologies and business models at our third annual GamesBeat 2011 conference, on July 12-13 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It will focus on the disruptive trends in the mobile games market. GamesBeat is co-located with our MobileBeat 2011 conference this year. To register, click on this link. Sponsors can message us at email@example.com. To pitch a startup at the Who’s Got Game contest at GamesBeat 2011, click here.