An Open Letter To Sony CEO Howard Stringer
from the i'm-surprised-he-didn't-just-tell-us-to-go-play-outside dept
While we all can appreciate the difficulties you’ve been through in the last month, what with your online cash cow being tipped by thousands of overbright fratboys, the simple fact is your responses have been, well, completely terrible.
First off, nothing heals fresh wounds like dismissive handwaving. When you have millions of customers and hundreds of developers locked out of their online connection for over a month, the use of the word "hiccup" isn’t exactly going to smooth things over. A term like that is usually deployed to indicate minor speedbumps, like 12 hours of downtime for "unscheduled maintenance" or informing the end users that their Diner’s Club cards are no longer being honored.
Following it up with defensive comments about your response time (faster that others!) and claiming the attack was unprecedented (no one has ever been hacked like this before!) isn’t really endearing you to the Home crowd. (Yes, that pun was intentional. And terrible.) This sort of irritated tone lacks the contriteness that those of us who have supported Sony for far too long would like to see. I suppose we’re supposed to feel grateful for your swift turnaround time, but if you’re just going to measure your company versus the lower end of the spectrum, then you’re wasting everyone’s time.
I see Sony is offering users/hackees some consolation prizes to help smooth over the month-long lockout + wholesale compromise of their personal information. I’m sure I speak for others when I view these items and wholeheartedly applaud them as being "better than nothing." While a few new games would be nice, I’m not sure I’ve got the time or the hard drive space to fill with games I never intended to purchase.
(Let me explain: I bought my PS3 back in the good old days when 40GB was considered to be "plenty." After all, it was just a "game machine" and still relied on disc-based delivery for content. I agreed with these unspoken sentiments right up until I purchased Dragon Age: Awakening: All of Everything Ever Bonus Game of the Year Edition. I’d heard nothing but good things about the game and shoved it in the disc-hole anticipating some excellent awakened dragon killing. I spent the next 2+ hours watching all of everything ever download and install, not including some sort of "update" that needed to be applied before I could even get to the exciting downloading/installing screens.)
Long story short, I have nowhere to put these new games that I don’t really want nor the desire to uninstall anything currently on the drive. Especially Dragon Age: Awakening: AoEEBGotYE, not only would I hate to have to reinstall it, but I have my doubts as to whether I would even be able to re-download my bonus online content, leaving me with a $30 game that I paid $50 for. So there’s that.
And as to the free month of Playstation Plus service… is that going to be 30 days continuous or will it just count down incrementally every time you manage to keep your network running for more than a few hours in a row? Clarification is needed because these are two very different things. All that other whatever-it-is, you can keep.
100+ items for my Home? This would be shit-hot news if I was still some sort of materially obsessed tween, but I could scarcely be bothered to dick around with my avatar for more than 15 minutes (shortly after signup?) and I haven’t been back since. (In my mind’s eye, I see him pacing the space between the immaculately empty living room to the outer edge of the balcony several hundred times, trying to talk himself into jumping.)
The long and short of all this is this (and trust me, it gets longer from this point): These shiny objects and temporary gifts aren’t going to do much to win back the trust, and more importantly, the $$$ of your swiftly dwindling fanbase. Much like many of your pissed off customers, I go back a long way with the Playstation.
I started out with the PSone way back in the day when Driver was the killer app that made the sale. (Way, way back, actually. There was no "one" on the console at that point.) You had other exclusives as well, like the Final Fantasy series, of which VIII was used by my wife (at that point, just my girlfriend) to reach out and awaken my inner dork (along with Legend of Dragoon), and many, many other games followed. (Jade Cocoon, Monster Rancher, various Legends of various Things, Driver 2: The Walker… [but not Final Fantasy VII, much to Dark Helmet’s dismay, and although he has encouraged me to give it a try, every nostalgic screenshot cuts me right across the eyes with its dangerously jagged polygons.])
I stayed with Sony for the PS2 (and its attendant killer app, GTA III), ignoring the mockery of X-Box fanboys, who derided our low-fi "memory cards" and made rude gestures with their enormous hands. I made the most of our ("our" — remember how close we used to be?) exclusive titles and repurchased the console no less than five times. (Mainly thanks to the first few generations’ alignment issues, which meant that shortly after the warranty expired the console would develop disc reading problems, grinding and blundering away like Grandpa with a malt liquour buzz and his glasses missing. Also, small children may have been involved.)
I even stayed true to the lineage and purchased a PS3 once the arrival of GTA IV made resistance impossible. (I was able to resist the PSP, however. Something about those newly-fashioned UMDs reminded me of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it heyday of the Minidisc.) I sucked it up and took the hit at the cash register despite the fact that Sony’s competitors had much friendlier price points. I swallowed hard as other consoles signed exclusive title after exclusive title. I defended its honor using the only weapon I had: the Blu-Ray player. And I laughed vindictively as the HD DVD fell by the wayside. I sat at home and admired my ungainly Blu-Ray player while waiting for worthwhile titles to come out and slowly got used to the fact that if something was PS3-only, it meant that no one else really wanted it.
I’m just one of millions, Howard. You had us all for so long, but between the wholesale harvesting of our data and the forced removal of functionality, I’d be bracing myself for some very low sales numbers when the next generation of consoles roll out. The shiny stuff and free digital trinkets are ok, but a little bit of humility would go a long way.