The PSN Hack: what could have been done differently?

Logo of the PlayStation Network
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Sony took a lot of heat during the PSN outage caused by a hack and the theft of potentially all of our PSN account and more importantly payment card details. I think Sony were unlucky to a large degree. They were right to defend themselves against the hacker George Hotz who published details on how to hack the system which could lead to pirating games.

Sony perhaps didn’t have the most robust security measures in place and as such they were apparently pretty easy pray for angry hackers with a lot of misguided talent. It’s a shame that these people can’t do something more constructive with their technical abilities and instead choose to attack a company that is only doing what it is completely entitled to do, protect it’s intellectual property. I don’t buy the hacker’s claims that they should be able to do whatever they want to the PS3’s that they own. Sony have a fair use policy and they have a right to enforce that to protect their business.

I think the main anger from fans towards Sony was because they appeared to not rush to warn people about data possibly being stolen. Many believe that they should have warned people straight away even if they weren’t sure anything had been taken, just to be on the safe side. I agree with this and I think Sony did make an error here, but as I’m not really one to hold long term grudges on brands I wouldn’t threaten to switch to Xbox or boycott Sony products for example like some people did.

All you can really do is just hope that they really have beefed up their security to an extent where we won’t have a repeat of this scenario again in the future. I’m not going to switch to using PSN cards to pay for PSN content because of this, but I can understand why a lot of people may choose to do so.

This whole fiasco becoming mainstream news has got to be damaging to Sony. All a lot of people will see is that Sony have been hacked and lost people’s private data. A lot of these people may not have ever owned a Playstation, but they may still be put off from buying a Sony TV down the line. You’ve got to hope that this isn’t the popular opinion, because Sony certainly don’t deserve that.

This type of hacking is in vogue at the moment you could say. We’ve seen numerous hacks on almost a daily basis on all kinds of websites. From game developers to news sites and more, it appears that no one is safe. In a way, this just validates Sony and just shows that no matter how much time you spend defending yourselves against data theft, it seems that no company can avoid being breached. If a hacker group wants to do something, then it seems like not much can stop them. This is probably why Microsoft didn’t make fun of Sony at the conference, because they know that it would be like showing a red cape to a bull and making themselves the next prime target.


Playstation Plus Thoughts

The newly announced and launched Playstation Plus service is an interesting idea. While similar in price to Xbox Live, it doesn’t actually compare in terms of features. While Xbox Live Gold allows you to play online and allows you access to some entertainment features on top of that, it doesn’t give you free content.

Playstation Plus is a kind of Playstation loyalty scheme in which players pay up-front for a subscription for either 3 months or a year for £40 or similar to that in other currencies. I wasn’t really sure at first if it would be worth-it for me to join because of the fact that I already own quite a few PSN games, and I have been very critical of the minis program in the past and still am.

What ended up happening though was that my brother bought a subscription for a year to plus. One of the main reasons for this was because of the special offer for people who join in the first month, which is a downloadable copy of LittleBigPlanet. LBP is one of my favourite games on PS3 and of course I already own a copy. We should now be able to trade in our disc version for credit at the store and make back some of the £40 joining fee. Hopefully the rest of that fee will be made back over the next 12 months.

I’m not sure if the LBP downloadable version is tied to the same expiration date as other Plus content, but when I went into the information page on the game it said that there was no time limit, while other games I downloaded did say they would expire in a year with the subscription if it wasn’t renewed. Even if LBP does expire in a year, I think because LBP2 is coming out a long way before then, and it is fully compatible with all old downloadable levels and DLC, unless you want to play the story levels again, there’s not much need to hang on to LBP.

For people who don’t already own LBP or WipEout HD, the £40 fee is worth paying just for the first month’s content. If you’re like me and you do already have both games, it should be worth the cost to you quite comfortably over the year. It just depends how much you are willing to take a chance that the content will be what you want to play.

If they go forward and add further features such as cross-game voice chat and possibly things like online game save backup then it will be worth the price for even more people and will probably go on to be very successful for Sony. So far it looks like it has a good starting position and can only get better from here.


PSN Video Store: Why so late?

The video store was originally announced and released in the US at E3 2008, that’s right, a year and a half ago. So why then does Sony feel that it’s appropriate to make a song and dance about the feature when it finally releases in select European countries?

I mean it is cool in a way that we finally have it, but it’s not like they’re doing anything truly mind blowing with this whatsoever. It’s the same exact thing the US has had for 18 months. Not to mention, we probably have far less content than they currently have access to. I believe there are currently no TV shows whatsoever, despite the fact that iTunes has a large selection, and the PSN store US also boasts a vast library.

I hate to complain but I just feel as if they’ve taken their time for no reason, like so many things video games related Europe and the rest of the world.

As for the pricing of this service, I’m not sure why but it seems a little lofty to me. I mean granted, I haven’t been to a blockbusters for years but I would have thought that about £3-5 is a bit excessive for one HD movie rental when I can get a subscription to something like lovefilm, or netflix in the US for about £10-£15 a month which provides unlimited movies which is ultimately surely far better value for most people.

Not to mention that I don’t believe that many people have the hard drive space or internet connection to be bothered with downloading huge HD movie files only to delete them when they’re done. It’s a huge waste of time and especially when you’re buying movies, a huge waste of your precious hard drive space that you need for game installs, patches, DLC and more.

The main advantage of a service like this, as with iTunes, is that you get the cross-compatibility between the PS3 and PSP which is cool, but you need to have a big memory stick to even fit the SD movies on, and the whole thing just isn’t as streamlined as it could be.

I guess if Sony came out with a subscription service which was competitive with lovefilm I might be interested. Either that, or do the same as netflix and bring lovefilm streaming directly to the PS3. I also need them to bring TV shows to the service because that’s what I’m most interested in watching.

They have set the groundwork for a possibly great service but at the moment it seems a little half-hearted. I hope they continue to roll out new features and I’m sure they will soon.


Critter Crunch Review

Before I get to reviewing this game, I just have to say that you really should get this, for reasons I’ll disclose as we proceed.

Firstly, this game is stunning to look at. It runs at full 1080p and you can tell. It has a beautiful hand-drawn art style that lends itself perfectly to this type of game.

Secondly, the gameplay is great. I played this on the iPod touch after I found out about the game through the Playstation Blog. I thought it was fun on the app store, but the controls were a bit iffy at times.

None of those complains are applicable in this PSN downloadable game. The d-pad movement and button control just gives such precision it’s a joy to play. The game features a full story mode, which is very well presented for a game like this. It’s more than you would expect definitely. It also features a variety of other modes like puzzle and survival as well as co-op and versus play both online and offline.

I did manage to play a game of vs online but in the end I liken this to games like street fighter or other fighters where unless you consider yourself very capable, then I would steer clear because it will be difficult for you to win even one game.

The presentation of the game is top-notch. The menus and little details in the game are great. Things like when the main character biggs dances at the end of a level, or when his son smalls comes onto the screen in a comedic speedy fashion, it’s hard not to laugh every time you see those things.

This is so much so that even when I lost a game online and all the critters fell down and got into a scrap with biggs, that made me laugh.

The final reason you should get this game is that it’s by a small independent company, Capybara games and not only should you support them for the game itself, but because they’re charging a very reasonable price for it. £4.45 on the PSN is great considering the recent trend of increasing the prices of most new games to around £7.99 or more.

So in conclusion, if you have a PS3 and you can afford to part with £4.45 then I strongly recommend you check this game out. It’s near impossible that you’ll regret it. I can’t wait to see what Capy do next.