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Opinion: Sony's Communication Problem
Opinion: Sony's Communication Problem
April 22, 2011 | By Chris Morris

[Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris discusses confusion surrounding the production of the PSP Go, and the ongoing PlayStation Network outages, suggesting it "needs to be more proactive" in reaching out.]

One of the greatest things about the internet era is the ability to learn news faster than ever before. The downside to that is that partial truths sometimes get mixed in with facts.

Often times, that's the fault of the media especially the news corps of the video game world, which very often follows a herd mentality, echoing each other's stories without doing their own investigation. But as the fate of the PSP Go has been bandied about this week, Sony only has itself to blame.

Let's recap: The rumors started Tuesday, with the blog of a Sony Shop employee in Japan not exactly the most reliable of sources. But then game business site MCV heard the same thing from a UK retailer.

Eurogamer managed to get a quote from the company that basically avoided the question. And every U.S. outlet worth its salt put in calls or emails to their PR contacts at Sony Computer Entertainment America.

No one heard a word.

The next day, the official Sony PlayStation Japan website slapped "shipment ended" tags on pictures of the PSP Go and the news seemed official. Still, SCEA remained mum.

But on Thursday, the division finally got around to answering the days old inquiries, sending the same one-line reply to all outlets: "We are continuing production of PSP Go for North America."

Follow-up questions weren't answered.

It is, of course, the company's right to say what it wants about its products but it's certainly not in its best interest to let the general public think that a system is being discontinued when it's not.

Rumor control is a tricky game for companies. If you only deny the false ones and decline to comment on the true ones, that's a pretty useless strategy. But hemming and hawing over whether to issue a statement or issuing one after the world at large has moved on to other things creates the impression that the company is unfocused, to put it kindly.

Now, as Sony faces another PR crisis ongoing outages with its PlayStation Network we're seeing some of the same problems resurface.

To be clear: The company is handling this issue, which is much more forward facing to consumers, much better. It has acknowledged the issue on the company blog and even provided an update.

What it hasn't done is announced a reason, leaving people to speculate. Did a recent update have a glitch? Is this tied to the integration of Steam with Portal 2? Is it once again under attack by Anonymous (or a splinter group of that loose organization)?

It may not know the precise reason, but after two days of outages, it's pretty easy to determine if the problem was due to internal or external factors and an open-door policy could buy Sony a lot of good will, especially as reports surface that the network problems are making some Capcom titles entirely unplayable even in offline mode.

Meanwhile, players who bought the PS3 version of Portal 2 are nearly as frustrated.

Richard Lawler, a senior editor at Engadget, summed up the frustration via Twitter: PS3 version of Portal 2 came with a PC version and cross-plat play! Xbox 360 version comes with a working online service.

No publisher or console maker is perfect in its messaging, of course. But in an era (and an industry) where rumors quickly overtake facts, Sony needs to be more proactive in their public communication and less like an ostrich with its head in the sand.

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Jan Kubiczek
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no comment.

Scott Minkoff
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To be fair, XBox Live has gone down for a while on occassion as well.

Marcus Miller
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At least PS3 users can't complain that they are not getting their money's worth out of PSN. When you don't pay anything then you get what you get. If this were Xbox Live, heads would be rolling.

Ben Pitseleh
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That is mostly true. But what do you mean heads would be rolling? The entire user base is upset, even though the majority don't pay for it, it is still a service provided as part of the console. But what about the PS+ subscribers? They are paying for premium content on their otherwise free network, but they can't access it either. Me thinks a discount or free software is in order for a peace offering for them.

Lyon Medina
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AOL still charges for their services, just because you pay for someting doesnt make it better, in this case it does, but thats not my point of course. I am an oxymoron.

Eric Geer
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I don't believe this is true at all...Sony announced this as a service that is available for each and every person that has a PS3--I payed for the console---probably more than an Xbox--I think they might just have different pay schedules--rather than charging each person monthly--they add a bit more to the console I no this for sure? they have to havce some sort of revenue coming in to maintain the service--and PS3 owners pay for it up front rather than day by day.

Fiore Iantosca
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Anyone with half a brain can just look at the rootkit fiasco to see Sony's communication problem.

I mean my God, I could do a much much much better job at SONY PR. Hire some people with brains. Don't treat your customers like they are criminals.


E Zachary Knight
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Sony has had a communication problem for the entire life of the PS3 dating back to its unveiling. It has been a problem for well over a decade in the company as a whole.

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Being a owner of the hardware in question I would have to agree with that statement.

Lyon Medina
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I bet its due to just the recent releases and the sevrvice just not having the capacity to handle it all. KillZone, Portal DOS (2), And its new services their running out with. Probaly getting overloaded.

Randy Overbeck
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Actually my guess is that they have some essential services that are provided by Amazon web services which are still not 100% back up.

Coincidental timing that Amazon based sites are having issues (like and Sony's PSN is having issues. I suspect they may have had some databases served there (BTW- I don't believe is coincidences :-)

This would also help to explain their lack of explanation because fixing it is not under their control...

Miguel Castarde
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Well, at least we can play Final Fight Double Impact meanwhile.

Lo Pan
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They should have installed Norton 360 on their PSN servers.

Lincoln Thurber
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The more interesting question could be if Sony knew it was an attack but were told to say, nothing by 'enforcement agencies' hoping to have the perpetrators break cover by admitting their involvement. Sony not talking might in theory psychologically forces those involved to take credit to have something said at all.

Unlike the discontinuation of a product, there is a legal and law enforcement lens through which a DoS attack must be viewed.

David Oso
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what is the problem man?

Sony are loosing revenues and customers because of this:/

worst yet is that they are not informing people of the problem.

It could be anon:/