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PSN breach will impact wider digital games business

Consumer confidence in digital sales will sink, says DoubleSix boss

The massive breach of security that has left over 75 million PlayStation Network accounts vulnerable to exploitation will have a much wider impact on the entire digital game sales business.

That's according to James Brooksby, head of developer DoubleSix, who's title Burn Zombie Burn was one of the first major hits on Sony's PlayStation service.

Brooksby said consumer confidence will suffer at a time when digital sales are becoming more accepted in the games business, adding that its still too early to predict the full impact of the security disaster.

Our major concern is the way that this will affect digital consumers' future behaviour.

James Brooksby, DoubleSix

"My biggest concern is how this affects not just PSN, but also XBLA, Steam, iTunes - all of the digital content providers," he told GamesIndustry.biz.

"This has been a very widely publicised problem that consumers will take note of next time they create accounts and buy online games. Of course this is a blip, but it's sure to have some kind of impact. We just have to wait to see what that is."

"It's very disappointing. And to be clear I'm not talking about the way that Sony has handled it, but that it has happened at all - our major concern is the way that this will affect digital consumers' future behaviour," he added.

Although sales of the studio's own title have been affected, Brooksby again noted that it's the long-term issues that the companies need to be aware of and while PSN is still offline, it's difficult to asses any real damage.

"We've done some estimation but we'll have to wait until PSN is back before we can really take stock. The long term impact is more of a concern."

Sony admitted last night that after seven days offline, it is still not sure of the full scale of the security breach by "illegal and unauthorised" intruders.

"I think Sony have quite a situation on their hands and we and other developers are fully sympathetic to their situation," added Brooksby.

"Right now we would not expect high levels of communication and I'd expect that developers that are just about to release games or DLC have been consulted more than us as we're not quite at that point."

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Latest comments (13)

Ryan Danz Senior Software Engineer, Raven Software11 years ago
I don't think consumer confidence will be greatly impacted by this. For Sony, and people who rely on Sony to sell their goods maybe - but to say it's going to affect the whole industry is a bit like saying people will be afraid to use banks if one bank gets robbed.
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james brooksby Studio Head, doublesix11 years ago
Hi Ryan, Its not quite the same as a bank as people as people HAVE to use banks. However I do hope you are right and I am just worrying. Best regards, James.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 11 years ago
And that's why I still rather buy content on physical carriers.. I'm glad I never bought anything from PSN because I would have lost it due to Sony removing OtherOS (and not letting those firmwares onto PSN)..

Not being able to get your content is surely a problem for ALL platforms, don't forget xbox live was also down for almost a week a few years ago, so it's not only a problem for Sony.. but any realistic thinking person can come to the conclusion that this problem is a problem for every provider..
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Show all comments (13)
Nigel Knox Software Engineer, Slant Six Games11 years ago
I might have some of the details wrong, but we ended up here something like this....

Sony decided to make "piece" with Linux hackers, by providing Other OS on PS3.
Sony found it self out priced. In order to reduce costs on the new Slim PS3, it removed Other OS. This seemed reasonable, because anyone who wanted to run Linux, probably already had a PS3.
Hackers started using the "Other OS" feature to hack the PS3, using the excuse that Sony had no right to remove the "Other OS" feature from the new consoles.
Sony responded by removing "Other OS" from all consoles.
Hackers responded by driving a truck through Sony's security. (Thanks GeoHot, you're l33t. Why not make something useful? Oh yes, because that's hard.)
Criminals used the hack to steal personal information from Sony customers.
PS3 will now go into terminal decline, shrinking the games industry, and costing jobs as it does.
Sony will probably survive, but will have reduced money to develop PS4 (Sony used the revenue from PS2 to develop PS3), possibly forcing it at some point in the future to withdraw from Games.


The lesson of this....
Sony will never support Linux ever again. As the old saying goes, once you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 11 years ago
As I've been doom-saying for ages now, all of these online security dings are yet another reason to keep physical product around for as long as possible. Since we live in the age of hyper knee-jerky paranoia, there WILL be a segment of users who won't want to hand over personal data to anyone for a while. Of course, once you buy ONE thing online, your info is seeded to the winds...

When PSN goes back up, I'd expect the lawsuits to roll in and despite the popularity of the console, more than a few less loyal knees jerking over to another console (although they're all problematic in terms of security). That amount of scared off sheep will be small, of course (and I'd say some will be back sooner than later)...

Yes, a lot of folks (and a lot more than the amount of scared off ones above) will simply brush this off as one more "blip" as they go back to buying more and more digital content simply because it's the ONLY way for them to get their fix.

Of course, anyone who's had a credit card bill pop into the mailbox with outrageous charges (well beyond the credit card fees) or gotten a call from a bank about charges they didn't make (or even a call saying charges were stopped before they were made) feels that moment of "duh...WHAT???!" before they start breathing again...

Which isn't and SHOULDN'T be part of a "normal" day, period...
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Al Meyers Founder, TEDxPeachtree, Inc.11 years ago
I respectfully disagree here. All this will show is that incumbents are not the leaders in disruptive technologies. The console manufacturers have been trying to play "catch up" and protect their markets by incorporating digital distribution into their business models. Anyone here any buzz about Nintendo's "Virtual Console?"

If a Zynga or a Nexon had a breach like this, I would worry. I don't believe this will have a material adverse impact to the online games industry.

Al Meyers
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Duncan Blair Designer, Haiku Interactive11 years ago
"Criminals used the hack to steal personal information from Sony customers."

Do people have a source on this? I've seen a few people suggesting the Geohotz hack is somehow related to this but it seems *extremely* unlikely to me.

- That hack was to do with running unsigned code on a PS3.
- This hack was (evidently) gaining access to the PSN customer databases.

One is a hack on the local security of the console, the other is an intrusion into the PSN network. Surely the two bare absolutely no link?
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Gary Lucero QA Analyst, Senior 11 years ago
I think we need to know if this hack was possible because of custom firmware (Rebug) and the developer network, or is this a problem with the new Steam integration? Or is it something else entirely?

I think we need to know so we can understand what happened and what Sony is changing so it hopefully won't ever happen again.
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Ben Herman CEO 11 years ago
The cloud? Seems like this could be a boost for brick+mortar boxed games. Pay cash.
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Shiraj Coenraad IT Audit Consultant, Woolworths Pty Ltd (South Africa)11 years ago
Sony has just announced their new tablets running Android, so they won't not run open source but will ensure from now that security will be amongst priorities when launching online platforms which require monetary transactions
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Logan Borsos11 years ago
Why was Sony keeping sensitive financial information in the system after purchases had already gone through? I can see maybe the information being stored for easy access locally on the machine, but it doesn't make much security sense for them to have kept card numbers after purchases had gone through (I'm just guessing this was the case as 75 million people is kind of a big number) in my opinion.

Is there some financial reason for Sony to have kept those on hand that I'm missing here that makes me sound like just another idiot student, or does that seem a bit odd to anyone else?
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game11 years ago
@Logan. Becuase it makes it easier for people to make impulse purchases, therefore more sales are made.
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert11 years ago
Online purchases will still grow over the years. Maybe they will decrease a bit after the sony fiasco but additional content, minigames and some full price games will always take their place on xboxlive, android, psn etc.
Full games will (hopefully) be purchased mostly in "real" stores. As a retailer I still belive in advisory service. Demos and Videos will always give a sneak peak on games but the information from retailers is still an important thing to most customers.
I buy a lot of arcadegames online and like the indie games aswell but they wonīt give me the same experience a grade A title gives me.
Also I think there are others just like me who prefer to collect the DVDs/Blue-rays with the package and manual (thanks to some publishers I donīt even get a manual anymore).
About the sony fiasco: I didnīt check my credit/debit card yet for misuse, and I donīt think there will be any. It teached us to buy prepaid cards for more security.
The "gibson" in this case would be amazon, wouldnīt it? That wouldnīt just effect the gamers but nearly every person that EVER bought anything on the net.

Edit: If anyone didnīt make a single purchase on Amazon, let me know ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Winkler on 28th April 2011 9:56am

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