Linux Returns, PSN Still Out, Sony Claims It Needs More Time

We're actually starting to feel a little sorry for Sony. The gaming console giant is reeling on the ropes from the network hacks that exposed the personal data of some 70 million subscribers, and the hits just keep on coming. Sony had initially planned to begin the process of bringing the PlayStation Network back online today, but those plans have been scrubbed. In a recent blog post, Patrick Seybold (senior director of corporate communications) noted that "we expected to have the services online within a week. We were unaware of the extent of the attack on Sony Online Entertainment servers, and we are taking this opportunity to conduct further testing of the incredibly complex system."

Sony still intends to have the network back online by May 31. Industry analysts are already trying to guess how much this outage will cost Sony in terms of business. Thus far, estimates have ranged as high as $1.25 billion—and that's not counting the cost of the network hardening, deployment, and upgrades currently taking place. The aftereffects of this failure could take years to heal. We suspect Sony's customers will forgive it readily enough, provided their financial data
isn't compromised, but an outage like this could cataclysmically effect the sales of certain game titles. While some titles remain on bestselling charts for months, games, like movies, often make the majority of their revenue within the first few weeks of availability. Single-player games may be less affected, but any game with a multiplayer element just got gutted. Such titles will now effectively 'launch' weeks past their official date, which may leave them facing stiff competition.

It should come as no surprise that Sony is considering offering a digital bounty on the heads of the perpetrators. Sony still claims Anonymous as its prime suspect. While that group admits bombarding Sony's service in a DDoS attack, it maintains that it was not involved and did not sanction the actual hacking of Sony's servers.

This entire mess started when Sony disabled OtherOS functionality in existing PS3 'fat' consoles (the PS3 Slim never supported Linux). That issue has now been remedied. A group calling itself Gitbrew has re-enabled Linux support on the PS3. The group's statement (and reason) for the support is simple:  "My hardware, my rules. I brought back what you took away."

At present, Sony is offering all impacted gamers a month of free PlayStation Plus and a year of identity theft protection (the exact details on how this latter service will function are a bit vague).  Rewards for European gamers are also in the offing, although these are apparently more complicated due to legal strictures.

The only upside is that thus far, there've been no reports of credit card fraud linked to PSN accounts and no uptick in fraud, period. So long as that remains the case, we think gamers will generally return once the network is up and running.