Sony's 25 days of PlayStation Network downtime, a result of an external intrusion which led to the loss of the private information of over 70 million users, is one of the biggest news stories of 2011. The platform holder realised a long time ago it would be impossible to just restore the service and sweep the issue under the rug, instead launching a firm and total admission of guilt, which included the apologetic bowing of many of the company's chief executives at a Tokyo press conference.
Yesterday, Sony announced specifics of its compensation program. All PS3 users with a PSN account registered before April 20 2011 will be able to choose two games from a list of five - LittleBigPlanet, inFamous, WipEout HD/Fury, Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty (or Super Stardust HD if you're in the USA), and Dead Nation. All users without PlayStation Plus will be given 30 days of PlayStation Plus absolutely free, current PlayStation Plus subscribers will get 60 days for free, and US customers will receive some unspecified movie rentals.
From the way people are acting, however, you'd think Sony just broke into your kitchen and defecated into the fruit bowl. Vast swathes of people are showing the emotional range of a schizophrenic ADHD sufferer after being forced to gobble their bodyweight in Skittles, with responses ranging from bolshie dismissal to unfettered rage.
Many people are simply taking umbrage at the range of games are on offer. I've seen my fair share of people looking shiftily at inFamous with more cynicism than Richard Dawkins at a Christianity convention, deriding the decision on the basis of it being a cheeky way to inflate interest in the upcoming sequel being released next month. Does that really stop inFamous from being a good game, however - a well-received title which scored a respectable 8/10 in VideoGamer.com's inFamous review.
Still, the biggest 'losers' with these games are the people who've already invested heavily in the PlayStation 3 throughout its lifetime; Sony's most dedicated fanbase who've played (and bought) all of these first-party titles years ago.
But it's hard to think of what Sony could have possibly done to combat the sense of entitlement many PlayStation owners are currently feeling. Awarding everybody PSN credit would have been the perfect solution but also economically unfeasible and hard to implement across PlayStation Network's millions of users, and giving away a more recent game - such as Killzone 3 or LittleBigPlanet 2 - would have been a great move in terms of consumer public relations, but it would also have severe ramifications on both Sony's financial forecasts and its relationship with third-party publishers.
Imagine, for instance, you're a publisher getting ready to release a big game in the next month, only to browse the internet one morning and see Sony giving away a current and direct competitor to your product, for free, to millions upon millions of potential users. Many gamers would surely be happy with Sony's free offering and see absolutely no reason to nip to the shops and drop another £40 on your upcoming title. You would be absolutely livid.