Opinion: It’s good to talk
As you may have seen by now, Sony has finally issued an official statement on the subject of the recent PSN outages. The news in the statement isn’t great, but it’s the fact that PSN has been down for nearly a week with little to no communication from Sony that has people most riled, rather than the information itself. It’s bad news that personal information has been compromised, sure, but people would have rather found out sooner than later.
We live in an age of always-connected social media. Blogs, podcasts, Facebook and Twitter are always on, always updating with the very latest happenings. And so when information isn’t immediately forthcoming, people get anxious, upset and angry. Sony’s tardy response may well end up costing them dear as affected customers refuse to trust the company in the future, however much it claims it is improving PSN and Qriocity’s security features.
It may well be, of course, that Sony has only just figured out exactly what information has been compromised. But even if that’s the case, most customers would have probably appreciated a warning that their details may have been grabbed, and some suggestions on how they could protect themselves if they were concerned.
We saw the opposite approach to community engagement earlier today from Minecraft developer Notch, who revealed his company’s plans to support the modding community. Minecraft, he said, would license its source code (which is not open source) to wannabe mod developers for a fee. His company Mojang then reserved the right to “buy or license” popular mods for inclusion in a future official Minecraft update.
After just fifteen minutes of being bombarded with universally negative feedback, Notch gave in and said that he would not, in fact, be charging for mod licenses, but the previous conditions remained in effect. This seemed to be better-received by the community, particularly as there was the potential for developers of high-quality mods to get paid for their hard work with no initial outlay required on their part — apart from buying a copy of Minecraft, of course.
Sony is obviously a much larger company than Mojang. But it’s very clear whose approach is the correct one. The PSN community has been demanding answers from Sony since the service went down nearly a week ago, and nothing has been forthcoming save a few cursory thank-you-for-your-patiences. Now it transpires that customers’ personal information and potentially even their credit card details are at risk? As awful a blow to the credibility of Sony’s security as such a breach is, people would have appreciated a prompt admission of the problem so that those who were truly concerned could take appropriate steps to avoid fraud.
Granted, the two issues under discussion are not the same in the slightest. But the differences in communication styles is clear: Mojang’s openness, honesty and willingness to act on feedback is admirable. Sony’s tardiness in updating the public on a disastrous security breach is shameful. Big companies have a lot to learn from the personal touch that smaller, more independent bodies employ.
Basically, it’s good to talk, whether you’re a large multinational behemoth, a small independent development studio or simply an individual. Let’s hope Sony — and other companies — learn from this experience so it never happens again.