You know, Sony, we’ve been close consumer friends for a long time now.
It’s been almost 16 years since I first got hooked on this PlayStation console that you started selling back on September 9th, 1995. Ridge Racer was something else, and when I heard that the best version of NBA Jam: Tournament Edition was coming on launch day, I was sold. Sure, we had a minor quibble right away when your hardware and my Zenith TV decided to disagree and cause my screen to bounce up and down… and, for the record, when I called you on launch day to see what you could do, you were clueless. That turned out to be OK since I bought my first gaming TV not long after and we were best buddies again. I must have really used my PlayStation a lot because the full-motion video would skip sometimes with repeated play. Turns out the PlayStation had this overheating problem and that turning the device on its side was a remedy. That was pretty slick. I wound up just replacing my launch unit with a new model, which was new for me since none of my previous consoles ever had a problem. I forgave you for that, too, since the software for the PlayStation was pretty damned impressive. In fact, some of the games still are… even to this day. I mean, come on! Final Fantasy VII, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, Ace Combat 2, NHL ’98, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and dozens of other titles spent countless hours spinning in my PlayStation’s CD drive. I still have a PSone, in fact.
I did cheat on you a little bit, Sony, when Sega launched the Dreamcast in 1999. I felt bad about it, but the Dreamcast was the real deal with visuals that blew me away and with games that made me smile. The Dreamcast was enough for me to pass on the PlayStation 2 at launch. You got your revenge, though, when SEGA threw in the towel on the Dreamcast in early 2001. You accepted me with open arms when I bought my PlayStation 2 in February of 2001 and gave me goodies like Ridge Racer V, NHL 2001, and Swing Away Golf. Sure, new games took their sweet time in arriving for a few months, but when they did… WOW. Metal Gear Solid 2 was fantastic. The Burnout games were incredible. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance opened up a whole new genre for me. Unfortunately, we did quarrel again when your hardware crapped out on me again before long and my blue-backed CD-based games wouldn’t work. I eventually wound up spending money on three different PlayStation 2 units. Looking back on it now, I see that you were just preparing me for this current console generation when we’re lucky if units last for 12 months. I guess some lessons have to be learned the hard way, right? Despite our quarrels, the PlayStation 2 and I have had a great relationship. In fact, I will likely buy one more new unit before the consoles are retired. You’ll be happy to know that my PlayStation 2 game collection is near 100, Sony, and I’m proud to share that information even if the console barely has any relevance anymore.
When you announced the PlayStation 3, Sony, I was mad. It wasn’t because I didn’t like what you were offering. The technology was really cool, and this new Blu-ray technology seemed like it could take off. The problem was the price, which had extended into 3DO territory. It was ridiculous since your other consoles were half the price. I tried my best to hold out, but, as usual, you won me over and I had a PlayStation 3 in my living room by the end of 2007 along with something called Rock Band. Our friendship was quickly renewed, although it didn’t take long to sour a bit once again. Microsoft was kicking your butts pretty good with their Xbox 360, and Nintendo was killing both companies with its waggle-fest called Wii. I felt like many of the games were sub-standard ports of Xbox 360 games, and your answer to Microsoft’s Gamerscore and Achievement systems was inconsistent and lacked the sense of accomplishment that I was looking for. PlayStation Home made no sense to me at all, other than being a drain on my hard drive, and I just got bored with and disinterested in the PlayStation 3. Break-ups happen, as you well know, and I broke up with my PlayStation 3 in 2009. It wasn’t you, Sony… it was me. I became consumer friends with Microsoft, and we clicked.
You must have sensed that I’d been unhappy, because then things started to happen with the PlayStation 3 that again attracted my interest. God of War III looked amazing. Your baseball games were (and still are) second to none. Uncharted 2 was everything I wanted from a sequel. I could almost hear Kazuma Kiryu from Yakuza 3 telling me that I needed to get another PlayStation 3. You opened the original PlayStation software vault and made some excellent games available for cheap downloads. You knew just how to win me back, and you did last year. As with almost every other console that I’ve owned with your name on it, Sony, my new PlayStation 3 was flawed… but your repair team came through and fixed the unit and our relationship. You didn’t care that Microsoft and I were consumer friends, as long as you could be part of the group, too. For that, I even decided to kick you an extra $50 to be part of your special club, called PlayStation Plus, and being a member was really great.
We were good, Sony. We were good.
Then came April of 2011, and it all unraveled. Your online PlayStation Network became known as the PlayStation Notwork as “maintenance”– or DDoS attacks, as most of us call them– took the service offline. I don’t play online much, but I like leaderboards and, as you know, I like giving you money for your games and add-ons. I don’t like digital distribution, but I couldn’t deny you. You had been training me to accept it, and I begrudgingly had come to be accepting. When PSN is down, though, I can’t buy things and I can’t update leaderboards. It felt to me like you were lying, and I don’t like to be lied to. It’s a trust thing, you understand. If you promise me something, even if you don’t say so in as many words, you need to deliver it as consistently as possible. Microsoft does this, and we’re cool… so it bothered me that you couldn’t for whatever reason.
To make matters worse, some of my friends and colleagues on Twitter alerted me to an announcement that you were taking PSN offline– again, “for maintenance”– at a time when some big releases had just hit stores. You said that it would only be a day or two, but two turned into four, and four has become eight. Then you come out this week and drop the bomb: PSN got hacked, and my personal information could be compromised as a result. Somebody out there could see where I live, use my name and date of birth for identity purposes, or even possibly have my debit card information.
I know that you’re sorry, but sorry doesn’t fix this. I understand that it’s not entirely your fault, but you failed to protect the personal information that I gave you in strict confidence. I don’t see how I can trust you now with my personal information, Sony… at least for the near future. You can promise me the world, profess that the problem won’t happen again and that you’re going to do better this time, and even offer me words of sympathy and regret… but how can I honestly believe you? You were deceitful when you were DDoS attacked, you were deceitful when this security breach occurred, and then you were painfully silent for days before finally telling me what happened.
Friends don’t lie, Sony. Friends don’t leak my information to anyone unless we agree that it’s all right to do so. Friends at least offer me the chance to understand when they screw up instead of hiding in fear. I know that you’re not really my friend, Sony, but we had something good.
I hate to do this to you, but we’re taking a consumer relationship break, you and I. I’m not going to dump you again– not yet, at least– but if you’re really sorry for what happened, you’re going to have to prove it to me and then give me time to see if I can forgive you. Make me feel valued and important again. Make me feel secure that my information is going to be safeguarded better. Make me believe that you’re changing for the better. If you can do that, we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll turn my PlayStation 3 on again and see how my online friends have done in Marvel Pinball. Maybe I’ll poke around the PlayStation Store again, although I’ll have to find one of your PSN cards if I buy anything. No offense, but you’re no longer getting my debit card information, not even out of personal convenience. That ship has sailed.
Who knows? Maybe we can work this out and become consumer friends again. I think that, deep down inside, I really want to be… but this is the way that things have to be right now. I know that this isn’t entirely your fault, and I hope that you catch the jerk who wrecked this for everyone. For now, Microsoft and I are going to hang out more. I’ll still read your e-mails and am sure that you have some exciting things still in store for E3 despite this crisis that I’m looking forward to seeing. I’m rooting for you.
In the meantime, it’s your Move, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Win me back one more time.