Sony says this week that, following one of the worst security breaches in recent memory for any company, that sales via its online gaming service are exceeding numbers from before the attack occurred.
As part of a Sony conference at the IFA electronics show, Sony CEO Howard Stringer said that the PlayStation Network has recovered and is now doing better than ever, with 3 million new customers since coming back online earlier this year.
London's theater world is apparently about to get a taste of video game culture thanks to Sony, Resistance 3 and London theater group Punchdrunk. Running September 1, through Sunday, Punchdrunk performs "…And Darkness Descended," an "interactive theater experience based on the game Resistance 3, where participants must survive, by cooperating against alien invaders (or not cooperating, as the case may be). Punchdrunk is keen on performing in a way that encourages lots of audience participation and this particular performance should be no exception.
According to new data released by ABI Research, the most popular method of streaming Netflix content continues to be through a video game console. The new data also shows that console owners spend a substantial amount of time --seven to eight hours a week-- watching online video through their console devices.
Sony Computer Entertainment announced that it will cut the price of its PlayStation 3 console by $50. The company, who made the announcement at Gamescom in cologne, Germany, said that the 160 GB model will now sell for $249, while the 320 GB model would sell for $299. The price cut is global and takes effect immediately.
At the annual Black Hat hacker convention that happened in Las Vegas this week Sony earned a dubious distinction of the security breach that took several of its services down for nearly two months. The awards are called "Pwnies" and - unless you are a hacker - you don’t want to be "honored" with on. Sony earned the "Most Epic Fail" award for the massive security breach that brought down the PlayStation Network and related services for nearly two months earlier this year.
Youness Alaoui, known better by his online persona "KaKaRoTo" and for being the first man to develop modified firmware for the PS3, sits down for an interview with PlayStation LifeStyle to talk about the PS3, piracy, black hat hackers, and whether Sony owns its system or consumers do. Alaoui, who describes himself as a software engineer of Moroccan origin currently living in Canada, says that his passions are programming and open source development, which he has been doing for over 10 years.
While Xbox 360 remains ahead of the PS3 on a global sales basis, EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich says that the PS3 is catching up and has a 10 percent lead over Xbox 360 sales so far this year.
"The Xbox 360 does have a 5% lead over the PlayStation 3 worldwide, a minimal difference," noted EEDAR's Jesse Divnich, who goes on to note that, while "the race is neck and neck," the PS3 is winning the battle so far this year.
"If one looks at the total amount of sales through the first 6 months of 2011, the PlayStation 3 has sold about 10 percent more than the Xbox 360, worldwide, so the PlayStation 3 is definitely gaining ground," he told Industry Gamers.
According to a memo sent to GameStop and obtained by Kotaku, the newest PS3 systems will remove the ability to use component cables to get high definition signals. This will make it so that PS3 users will have to be using an HDMI cable to show an HD image. Since HDMI cables can retail for $60 or more, this is not necessarily a good thing for consumers who don't have a lot to spend.
"This means you will want to offer an HDMI cable with every new 'K' model PS3," the memo says.
Ars Technica speculates why Sony decided to take away the ability to view true HD images via a component cable. One reason, they say, is because some Sony Bravia televisions already require an HDMI connection to display video in the full 1080p resolution.
This move will give Sony more control over how the image is used, while limiting the possibilities for recording or duplication. Also, retailers can now make a few bucks selling HDMI cables alongside the system, according to Ars.
It may have taken longer than expected but Sony's various services related to the PlayStation 3 are back online all over the world. As part of an apology by the company, it offered a number of free games to PSN members such as Infamous, LittleBigPlanet, Dead Nation and WipEout through a "Welcome Back" program. Sony will be delighted to hear that the program has been called a resounding success by research firm EEDAR.
EEDAR, referencing IGN GamerMetrics data, said that all four Welcome Back titles were in the top 25 of consumer reported title acquisitions in June 2011. Additionally 17 percent of IGN users indicated that they acquired a PSN digital title in June 2011, up from 13 percent in March 2011 before Sony had to take down PSN.
But the most interesting data point in the report indicates that the Welcome Back program may have boosted PS3 game sales as well. From the report:
Sony has decided to extended its offer of free identity theft protection for PlayStation Network users in North America. The company announced that it is extending the AllClear ID Plus Identity Theft Protection program at no cost until the end of July. This protection will expire approximately one year after the user has registered for the program.
Apparently some users have been slow to sign up for it, or Sony is simply extending the program opt-in out of courtesy to its PSN users. The company offered the plan after the PlayStation Network came back online - two and half months after hackers breached security and forced the company to take its services down to make them more secure.
Sony is expected to announce AllClear ID Plus protection for users in Canada and Latin America sometime soon.
Source: Digital Spy
Sony announced that it will have "full PlayStation Network services" in Japan sometime this week. This will bring all of its services online in the region nearly two and a half months after being attacked by hackers. Later this week Sony hopes to have its PlayStation Store back online, allowing Japanese PlayStation Network users access to its games marketplace and online music.
The attack on Sony’s data centers in San Diego compromised more than 100 million customer accounts and will cost an estimated 14 billion yen ($173 million) for the company this fiscal year.
Most of the delay in Japan was due to a Japanese government request in May to institute "preventive measures against data breaches," and to ease customer worries over having their information stolen. Apparently Sony has finally satisfied these requests, as well as requests from credit card companies who were seeking details on its new security measures.
Sony CEO Howard Stringer took a 16 percent pay cut last year, the company announced at its shareholder meeting on Tuesday. Sony said that Stringer's salary and bonuses fell to right around 345 million yen, or roughly $4,268,807 (according to currency conversion site XE.com). Earlier in the week shareholders asked Stringer to resign from his post as CEO. Obviously Sony and Stringer are not entertaining that idea at all.
The shareholder anger is directly related to the security breach in April, Sony's handling of the situation, and the inevitable price tag, which the company estimates at $14 billion yen.
Stringer tried to console investors by saying that since the PlayStation Network came back online, around 90 percent of its subscribers have returned and he apologized for how the company dealt with the security breach.
Sony of Japan has issued a small statement on the continued downtime of the PlayStation Network and its Qriocity services in Japan. The company had said that it would relaunch both at the end of last month, but that never happened. Sony's new statement offers Japanese players apologies for the long wait and that it needs more time "to make adjustments with the various related parties." The company offers no timeline for when these services will return as it attempts to appease customers, the Japanese government and credit card companies.
The hold-up relates mostly to Sony meeting the strict demands of the government and credit card companies. So far it has not managed to convince either that everything is safe and secure. Further, the government wants Sony to explain how it will give customers confidence again that its services are safe.
A new lawsuit filed in federal court in San Diego on Monday (Cotorreal et al v. Sony Corporation Inc.) alleges that Sony's security breach of Sony Online Entertainment and PlayStation Network were the direct result of layoffs earlier in the month of April. In late April the company laid off around 205 employees from its MMO company SOE, closing down offices in Denver, Seattle and Tucson. These layoffs also affected the company's Network Operations Centre. The complaint alleges that Sony did not mention that any of these employees were part of "network operations" at the time of the layoffs.
The complaint also alleges that Sony rushed to protect data when it first learned of the security breach - but it wasn't user data they were concerned about. The company paid millions to secure sensitive corporate secrets, not offering the same level of action for customer data, the complaint contends.
German PlayStation 3 coder Alexander'Graf_Chokolo' Egorenkov said that because he doesn't have the money to fight Sony he expects to spend some time in jail. Egorenkov was targeted by Sony last year for hacking PS3 code to re-enable OtherOS on the console. Egorenkov was sued by Sony and forced to take all his material related to the hack offline. That site has been replaced by a donations page to help pay for his legal fees.
Speaking to supporters on his web site this week, Egorenkov said that his situation is looking bleak because he doesn't have the money to fight back:
Confirming rumors from earlier this month, Sony has opened an official page for the new CECH-3000B model PlayStation 3. The new hardware will begin shipping sometime later this month in Japan.
The official page confirms details from a retail advertisement that was leaked to the public earlier this month. The new model will be available in Charcoal Black, will feature lower power consumption at 200 watts, will weigh around 2.6kg, and will include a 320 gigabyte hard drive. It will be priced at ¥34,980, the same price point for other PS3 models on the market in the region. Accessories include the usual - a Dual Shock 3 controller, power cable, AV cable and USB cable.
According to a New York Times report, Spanish police have arrested three men they claim were involved in hacking Sony's PlayStation Network and the PlayStation Store. Police also claim that the trio are part of the hacktivist group Anonymous. The three men were released on their own recognizance pending formal charges but are expected to be charged with "forming an illegal association to attack public and corporate Web sites," which carries a maximum sentence of up to three years.
The official Twitter feed for the hacktivist group does provide some confirmation that the three are somehow connected to the group:
In a recent interview with GameSpot, Sega's executive vice president of marketing Alan Pritchard talked about used games, the PlayStation Network security breach, and Aliens: Colonial Marines. The more interesting topics relate to Sony's security woes and what the Sega representative thinks about the effects of the used games market.
On the topic of how the PSN security breach affected Sega financially, Pritchard said:
"I don't think we can allow it to affect our relationship, regardless of what we think (laughs). We need to work with Sony. And we do have a good relationship with Sony. It has affected us because if it's down, we can't sell games. Sega's rapport with Sony remains unchanged following the PlayStation Network outage."
When asked about a specific monetary figure Pritchard declined to answer:
It's E3 week and that means that top executives make the rounds to as many media outlets as possible. Sony's Kaz Hirai is no exception, speaking to a number of publications in North America and Europe this week. In an interview with the BBC, Hirai admits that Sony has not been able to catch whoever breached the PlayStation Network's security in late April, and it is not exactly sure what they might have taken. All they really know is that they accessed user data and took some of it.
In a recent interview with UK paper the Guardian, Hirai said that the recent PlayStation Network security breach is a global crisis that "isn’t something that is a Microsoft issue or a Sony issue or limited to one or two companies," but "actually a lot bigger than that." Noting the recent hack attempts against the FBI and Nintendo, Hirai feels that the problem is "large enough to the extent that we're talking about any and all companies, organizations and entities that deal in the online space."
"It's a threat, not just to Sony or a couple of other companies, but to the very fabric of society," he said. "Therefore it requires individuals and companies to be very vigilant, which goes without saying, and we need help from various government, various enforcement agencies and legislation in certain instances as well. And this needs to be a worldwide effort."
Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and Sony Network Entertainment International announced that they will "fully restore" all Qriocity by day's end on June 9 in "all serviced territories, excluding Japan." That means that PlayStation Network and Qriocity services which were shut down on April 20 due to a massive security breach are available and working as they were prior to the incident.
SCE says that Video On Demand and Music Unlimited services powered by Qriocity are now "fully functional" on all compatible devices. PlayStation Network has been up for a few weeks in most territories, and last week SCE relaunched the PlayStation Store and gave users access to free games as a "thank you" for their patience.
An announcement related to the restoration of the remaining services on Qriocity in Japan will be made at a later date, said SCE.
Sony Computer Entertainment America has released a brand new firmware update for the PlayStation 3 that adds a new option to the SaveData Utility in the XMB. The firmware, v.365, changes the XMB item SaveData Utility (minis) to [SaveData Utility(minis/PSP)]. It also improves the "operating stability of some PS3 format software."
Sony says this is an optional update (you'll need it if you want to connect to PSN, so it's not really all that optional), but if you own a PSP then you'll want to download it. Basically, When you have a PSP connected to the PS3, you'll gain the ability to copy your PSP save data to the PS3. This will allow you to backup your PSP data, although its availability is dependent on the game.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Sony's Welcome Back program content is now available to PlayStation Network users. For the PlayStation Network and the PlayStation Store being down for nearly a month, Sony is offering consumers an apology in the form of two free games for the PS3 and two free games for the PlayStation Portable. Here's the message Sony posted on its PlayStation blog:
Ligatt Security International's Gregory Evans says that both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live remain vulnerable to cyber attacks and that both companies should consider hiring hackers to test security.
"Most big corporations have what’s called an annual security audit and they go out and hire outside security companies," Ligatt Security International's Gregory Evans told Industry Gamers. "But they’re nothing but a bunch of IT managers who went out and got a bunch of certifications and now they come in to see if your system is truly hacker proof. These IT managers who take the test to become a certified computer hacker or a CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional) have to work in a lab and hack into a system that’s in a controlled environment."
If you try to log on to the PlayStation Store this morning, you may encounter some technical difficulties. Apparently the massive amounts of traffic slamming the network is spitting out an error message to some users. Sony says that this is entirely due to extremely high traffic volumes and that this should ease up as the day goes on.
"There are so many of you accessing the store at the moment that due to the excessive load, it is a little slow," said SCEA's Nick Caplin. "We are improving it as I write this, so you will see improvements in speed as the day progresses."
This sort of thing is to be expected considering that the store dedicated to PS3 and PSP has been down for well over a month.
Sony Computer Entertainment America has relaunched the PlayStation Store and unleashed a massive update, offering lots of new games, downloadable content, demos, special discounts, and more for both the PSP and PS3. The "Welcome Back" games are not available yet but Sony plans another update to the system on Friday, June 3. The PlayStation Store has been down for over a month so you can expect that - in order to play catch up - SCEA will be releasing a ton of new content over the next two to three weeks.
You can check out all the new content on the PlayStation Blog. The most exciting thing for PS3 fans may be the release of the InFamous 2 demo, which is available now.
We'll let you know when the free games that Sony promised are available. We expect to see them on the PlayStation Store soon.
Sony Japan announced today that the PlayStation Store will be back online sometime this week in most territories. The company said that it will be restarting "full services" for all territories except a few in Asia - Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea. Most other regions will be ready to go by week's end.
“We have been conducting additional testing and further security verification of our commerce functions in order to bring the PlayStation Network completely back online so that our fans can again enjoy the first class entertainment experience they have come to love,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “We appreciate the patience and support shown during this time.”
The recently relaunched PlayStation Network will outdue the competition when it comes to security, according to Avalanche producer Andreas Thorsen. When asked by C&VG if security was a concern for his studio due to the fact that its latest game (Renegade Ops) is download-only, Thorsen said that he felt confident.
"I haven't really thought about it in that way," said Thorsen. "I think the new system that they bring now will probably be even more secure than the competitors'. I don't think this is something that is unique to the PSN, it's just that this time it happened to them."
"I still have a lot of confidence in them," he continued, before pointing towards the studio's isometric, dual-stick blaster built with the Just Cause 2 engine. "I think PSN is a good target for this kind of game, I don't think it has that many games like this."
Sony announced that PlayStation Network and Qriocity users in the United States can begin the process of enrolling in a 12-month subscription plan for identity theft protection by visiting us.playstation.com. Before announcing the news on the official blog, some PSN users were informed via email. Here's more from the official blog: