Sony's PlayStation 3 is facing a new security threat - one it hasn't seen since the system was cracked via the PSJailbreak in 2011. According to a report on Eurogamer, a new PlayStation Network-enabled custom firmware was recently released along with the publication of the console's LV0 decryption keys.
Sony Online Entertainment has announced Player Studio, a new program for its EverQuest MMO's that lets players create in-game items that can be sold in the marketplace of their favorite online game. The company also announced two new expansions: EverQuest: Rain of Fear and EverQuest II: Chains of Eternity.
Sony Online Entertainment has officially relaunched its fantasy MMORPG Vanguard Saga of Heroes as a free-to-play game worldwide. SOE claims that Vanguard Saga of Heroes' transition to a free-to-play model marks the beginning of an "exciting new direction" which will include entirely new game enhancements, regular updates and brand new content.
According to Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley, 70 percent of DC Universe Online players prefer the game on the PlayStation 3. Speaking to GamesIndustry International, Smedley says that his company has proven that free-to-play gaming on Sony's console is a viable market, and one that's supported well. Smedley makes a good point considering that there are more MMO's on the PS3 than there are on any other console and the PS3 is the only console system that has successfully supported the free-to-play model in games like DC Universe Online and Free Realms.
Sony Online Entertainment announced today that one of its last remaining subscription-based MMO's is going free-to-play. Via a Producer Letter, SOE announced that Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will be free later this summer. The company has actually been working on the transition to free-to-play for quite some time, but today's announcement makes it official and lays out some of the changes players can expect.
Sony Online Entertainment has opened registration for its annual fan event, SOE Live. In its 12th year, SOE Live is a fan gathering for the entire SOE community to celebrate their favorite games and connect with other players and the games' developers. Taking place at Bally's in Las Vegas October 18-21, SOE Live will celebrate the communities of such games as DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Free Realms, Magic: The Gathering - Tactics, PlanetSide 2, PoxNora, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
Sony Online Entertainment has awarded Quinne Larsen of Northridge, California the 2012 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Scholarship. The scholarship awards Quinne $10,000 for tuition at California Institute of the Arts and a 10-week paid internship at SOE's headquarters in San Diego. While hundreds vied for the scholarship by submitting two pieces of original concept art inspired SOE's games PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest II and an essay discussing their views on women in the gaming industry, only one winner could be chosen.
According to a Nikkei newspaper report (by way of Reuters / Yahoo! News), Sony will cut six percent of its global workforce, or 10,000 jobs worldwide. The report says that the company's new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, is doing everything he can to put the company back in the black after four years of being in the red.
Sony Online Entertainment has changed the name of its annual fan event to SOE LIVE. The freshly rebranded fan event is scheduled to take place at Bally's in Las Vegas, October 18-21, 2012. The annual SOE-sponsored event will allow the company to offer broader support for all of its various titles including DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Free Realms, Magic: The Gathering - Tactics, PlanetSide 2, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
Sony Online Entertainment sent along a reminder to let anyone interested in applying for the fifth annual Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Game Design Competition, that submissions are now being accepted. The G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition is an annual initiative to promote higher education among women and encourage their inclusion and participation in the video game industry.
In September Sony updated the PlayStation Network's terms of service to include a new clause removing the ability for customers (who were more than likely upset over the major security breach that happened earlier in the year) to file future class action lawsuits. Users who accepted the new TOS had to agree to individual arbitration instead of a lawsuit if they had a grievance against Sony. Since users had to agree to the new TOS in order to sign in to PSN, many simply agreed and moved on.
DC Universe Online had about 30,000 paid subscribers prior to switching over to a free-to-play model. Apparently that switch has helped the game gain an additional 90,000 registered users. Sony Online Entertainment, which manages the DC Comics-based superhero MMO, said the surge in interest represents a 400 percent increase on previous figures.
GameSpot managed to corner Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley during the GDC Online conference this week in Austin, Texas to get his thoughts on the recent attack that resulted in Sony temporarily locking down around 93,000 PlayStation Network, Sony Entertainment Network, and Sony Online Entertainment accounts.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released new guidelines on Thursday that require publicly traded companies to disclose when they are the victim of a security breach or cyber attack. The new guidelines are the result of members of congress pressuring the watchdog agency to add them following several major cyber attacks earlier this year. Senator John Rockefeller is one of those lawmakers.
Last night Sony's new SVP & Chief Information Security Officer, Philip Reitinger wrote a lengthy post on the official PlayStation Blog, detailing some questionable mass logins. While some of those attempts to login to accounts by unknown persons were successful, Reitinger assures the public that those accounts have been identified by the company and temporarily locked down.
Sony did not break Australia’s Privacy Act during the PlayStation Network cyber attack, ruled Australia's Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. Pilgrim’s report, released today, said that the Commission found "no evidence that Sony intentionally disclosed any personal information to a third party." Pilgrim said that he was satisfied that Sony Australia took reasonable steps to protect its customers’ personal information, including encrypting credit card information and ensuring appropriate security measures were in place.
You may think the unprecedented and massive security breach that took down multiple Sony services including Sony Online entertainment and PlayStation Network is what pushed Sony to make the changes it did recently to the PSN Terms of Service, but a CNN report points to another reason: The Supreme Court. Last week Sony changed the document for PlayStation Network asking customers to give up their rights to file class-action lawsuits against the company and its partners.
An interactive entertainment lawyer tells GameIndustry.biz that the new wording in the PlayStation Network terms of service is geared more towards consumers in the United States and is probably not enforceable in the United Kingdom due to existing laws that prevent such contracts.
In case you've forgotten it from yesterday, here's what paragraph 15 of the PSN terms of service states:
If you are a member of Sony's PlayStation Network, chances are you were greeted with an email from the company this morning telling you that that the terms of service for the network are about to change. The big change, in case you haven't received that email yet, relates to your ability to sue them. From section 15 comes this wonderful new clause:
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.
Star Wars Galaxies, the popular MMO created by Sony Online Entertainment and LucasArts is shutting down by year's end. SOE announced that it planned to shut down the Star Wars themed MMO in December of this year. They are doing this, they say, to switch the focus on the next Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic.
SOE president John Smedley said the closure of SWG will not affect the team because it will be transferred to an undisclosed project in Austin.
An official letter to SWG players was posted on the forums, laying out the bad news:
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.
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:
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.
Earlier this month a congressional subcommittee looking into the PlayStation Network outage and data leak asked Sony Computer Entertainment America chairman and Sony Corp. executive vice president Kaz Hirai to testify. He declined at the time. While Hirai didn't make it to Washington D.C. his company provided a detailed list of answers that - at least temporarily - pacified lawmakers. Now with the PSN back online, Sony had decided that it will comply with the request from House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.
Ken Johnson, an aide to subcommittee chairwoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), told The Atlantic magazine that Sony Network Entertainment president Tim Schaff, is scheduled testify before the subcommittee next week.
Sony Online Entertainment announced it will provide customers with a complimentary 12 month identity protection program through Affinion International Limited for Station Account holders in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Customers will have the option of enrolling in the program for 60 days after SOE's services come back online by contacting Affinion directly.
The identity protection program provides customers whose accounts may have been affected by the April security breach on SOE's network with monitoring, surveillance, reporting and insurance.