The Great Playstation Debacle of 2011
On April 23rd I sat down to write an article about the Playstation Network being down. I then, however, was promptly distracted and abandoned the project. I didn’t revisit the project the next day because I assumed that the problem would be fixed by the time I got the article posted, and it wouldn’t be topical.
Here we are today, at great risk to my reputation, effort, time, and motivation I’ve put upon myself the task of bringing up the outage of PSN.
The argument has been made that Xbox Live is inferior to PSN in that it costs money, and honestly I’ll buy that argument, I’m already paying 15 dollars for 4 maps for Call of Duty, why should I pay $60 a year for the right to buy overpriced games and add-ons?
The truth is that with the exception of the Dreamcast, Microsoft was the first to market with a user-friendly, fully integrated gaming network; and back in the day, that’s something people were willing to pay for, and that service kept growing, and improving, it was updated, and new features were added, some deleted. All at once, the gaming community fell in love with Halo 2 on Xbox Live, and now Xbox Live is an inseparable element of the Xbox brand. I’m a fairly lazy person, but if I turn on my Xbox to play a single player game, and I can’t log into Xbox Live, I’ll work to get my connection to work, because turning on your Xbox now means logging onto Xbox Live.
Nintendo (as much as I love them) hasn’t yet figured out how to make online gaming work. Granted, a lot of it may have to do with child safety concerns, but using Nintendo’s online gaming network feels a lot like using dial up on Sega Genesis: each person has to put in an 87 digit code to add each other, then call to say “hey buddy wanna Super Smash Brother Brawl?” then hang the phone up and play, then want to talk trash and realize that there’s no way of communicating. So they have to call their friend back and say “stop edge guarding you noob!” then hang up and repeat the process.
With PSN, it’s a bit different, I’m not a Playstation user, but I understand that there’s some sort of “the sims” type game involoved and they ripped-off pretty much all the rest of their format from Xbox Live. One stark difference is that when you mod a PS3 and get caught, not just you but your console is banned for life, where as with Xbox you get banned for maybe a few weeks, then you can get back on and never do it again having learned your lesson, and it was actually Sony’s aggression toward hackers that brought about this mess in which they’ve caught themselves…
Enter Anonymous: the altruistic pirating libertines of the internet, hell bent on protecting internet freedom and the rights of gamers and users to freely exchange and modify for their purposes other peoples work. In the months before the 4-20 raid on PSN, Sony had gone after a fellow who calls himself Geohot. Geohot was accused of “distributing code to circumvent the PS3’s copyright protection technology to run pirated software” or jailbreaking the PS3. While that seems common, (iPhone, Nintendo DS, Xbox, Xbox 360, etc) Sony really went the extra mile and announced in mid February that they were going to ban any of its users who hack the system for LIFE. So, a month later, against all odds and fighting the ever-increasing immaturity and apathy of the amateur hacking/trolling world, Anonymous was able successfully to launch a DDoS attack on Sony that took down the PlayStation Network, problem solved, Sony learned their lesson. Oh, and also in the chaos someone was able to hack the personal information of around 25 million users, and apparently the hole that was used to steal that data was fairly large, because they’ve been working to repair it since 4-20.
Also Nintendo came out and announced that they’re rinky-dink online system may have some security flaws too.
So what does this mean? It means that there’s a contract between gamers and developers, much in the way that there’s a social contract between the governed and the governing in a properly functioning society, the people have relative freedom (so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others) and they pay taxes to help keep up an infrastructure to protect the populace and help the populace thrive within that government, and when that government becomes cruel, unreasonable, unresponsive, or useless it is the right and natural response of the governed to upset the establishment to rectify those grievances.
We are citizens of the internet, and we deserve freedom, we also deserve punishment when our behavior results in limiting the freedom or fairness of others’ access to the internet. Governing is a light touch, Xbox will ban a player temporarily for modifying their Xbox, or cheating in-game, or for offensive behavior, but it’s temporary. In much that way that every rational person doesn’t believe that people should be imprisoned for the possession of marijuana, most rational gamers believe that the death sentence shouldn’t be handed down to gamers with the wherewithal to get cheap or free games, and I don’t mind paying taxes to a gaming network that keeps my data secure, works, is fun, useful, easy to use, and has reasonable rules. That’s why you can look me up on Xbox Live.
Gamertag: Whitesnake Sr…