The PlayStation Network has been down for a solid two days. We don't know when it will end. All we know, in its third day, is that Sony says an "external intrusion" is responsible for the outage. All multiplayer gaming is conked. Some downloadable titles are completely unplayable. (Those good old title updates are still being served, though.) Does Sony owe anyone anything for the inconvenience?
Remember, this isn't the first time the PlayStation Network has suffered prolonged outages. Last February, a clock error in older models of the PlayStation 3 confused 2010 for a leap year and prevented users from signing into PSN. And, of course, attacks earlier this month by Anonymous succeeded in bringing down PSN intermittently, at least until Sony's security contractors figured out how to block them and Anonymous itself called off the operation.
This, however, is much more than a DDoS attack taking things out of commission for a couple of hours. We'd been told to expect an outage at least as long as a couple of days. And when PSN is down, that means access to the PlayStation Store and all multiplayer gaming are gone, and even certain titles are completely unplayable, online or offline.
Should Sony offer anything to their PSN customers? Are they even obligated to? It's tricky because, unlike Xbox Live, you can take advantage of all online multiplayer features with a free account over PSN. So for millions of users, the service most often used over PSN is "free", (or at least assumed into the retail cost of the game.) Were this Xbox Live, we'd likely be seeing free months tacked onto folks' Gold subscriptions left and right.
Maybe that should happen for subscribers to PlayStation Plus, but offering everyone a free month of that would look to some like a cynical way to hook people into the service. Not to mention existing PlayStation Plus subscribers would see some dilution of the exclusives and offers they get through the service during that freebie period.
A free downloadable game? If it's one published by SCEA, perhaps. More likely we'd see some kind of secondary offer - a movie rental or a piece of downloadable content.
Still there are some games that cannot be played at all because of DRM requiring you to log into PlayStation Network - notably Capcom's Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 and Final Fight. I own both. Should I get some kind of refund or credit to my PlayStation wallet? With more than 70 million subscribers, even a dollar credit to everyone makes this an extremely expensive gesture for Sony.
Maybe, if this really is an external intrusion, and PSN has been brought down through no fault of Sony's, maybe it doesn't feel compelled to offer anything. And maybe you don't feel they should either.
I'm curious of your feelings on this. Let us know in the comments.