Not to touch off any raving fanboy battles, but honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of Sony’s PlayStation Network. I remember when PSN started, a lot of the online debate focused on how it was free versus the annual fee (currently $50) of Microsoft’s XBox Live network. Not any surprise really, internet denizens have been the cheapest bastards on the planet from the very beginning. To many netizens, free always equates to better.
But, the old adage that you get what you pay for was quite apt in the case of PSN vs XBL. From this consumer’s standpoint, PSN simply did not work as well as XBL. The games were not as well integrated, and doing simple things like downloading updates took significantly longer than the same activities on XBL. Bandwidth, servers, and development personnel cost money, lots of it. A free model was simply not going to deliver a competitive online service. So it was no surprise when Sony announced the premium PlayStation Plus service with, guess what? A $50 annual fee.
By now, the massive security breach on PSN and other Sony web sites is common knowledge even outside of the gaming community. As a developer, I was a bit shocked at just how fragile Sony’s infrastructure appeared to be in the wake of these attacks. To be fair, it is not a small task to secure your network against determined intruders. I suspect that Microsoft may possess greater expertise in this area simply because they have been such a big hacking target for such a long time relative to Sony.
As a consumer though, I just want things to work! So far, I’m not impressed. The simple tasks of claiming the Welcome Back goodies has been fraught with server errors and disconnections. Part of this is the heavy traffic of legitimate customers which should have been anticipated and prepared for. The other part is the continuing network attack on Sony’s online infrastructure, which sadly also needs to be accounted for going forward.
I’m very frustrated by all of this. I just want to play some games on the net! Maybe it’s time for Sony to call up Microsoft for some advice.