Thursday, June 2, 2011

PlayStation Store Back Online

Sony announced on the evening of Wednesday, June 1st that the Sony PlayStation Store is back online! After being down for more than a month, this is big news for PlayStation owners.

According to a blog post, Sony promised that when the store got back online there would be a “huge lineup” of new downloadable games, demos, add-on content, themes, avatars and videos, and they have definitely followed through with their promises. Sony added full game trials, free games and DLC, free avatars and even more discounts.

"The PlayStation Store is back online,” said Sony, “and thank you, everyone, for your patience."

Now unfortunately, Sony’s promised “Welcome Back” package is not live yet. Last month, the company promised all of their users access to free games, movie rentals and virtual items. This was an attempt to make up for the fact that they were without service after the huge Sony PlayStation Network hack. On Wednesday Sony said that the offer "is currently in the final stages of testing and will be available to download soon; we'll be sure to let you know when."

On Thursday, June 2 Sony is releasing the next PlayStation Store and PlayStation Plus updates. Sony also said that they will be releasing some “special” releases right before the start of the E3 gaming conference in L.A.

For users who were PlayStation Plus subscribers, Sony says that they will receive access to full game trials of both “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2” and “Dante’s Inferno.” There will also be almost another dozen featured games and DLC that will be free for PlayStation Plus subscribers and range from $2.99 to $9.99 for all other PlayStation users. For a full list check out Sony’s blog.

Meanwhile, while Sony can celebrate that the PlayStation Store is back online, they still have to deal with discussing the hack with the U.S. Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Wednesday that they will be conducting a “thorough review” of the data security and electronic privacy issues that Sony has encountered during this hack.

“In this digital age we must all remain vigilant against the dangers lurking online," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI). "Illegal hacking has become one of the fastest growing crimes worldwide. As cyber-attacks become more frequent, our first step must be to strengthen data security to ensure protection of information that consumers choose to have collected and stored. Only when basic data security is addressed can we move forward to address the more complex questions about individual privacy in the digital era."

Most of the criticism that Congress has about the Sony hack is the reaction that the company had. Many members of Congress questioned why Sony took so long to notify its customers about the hack, and of course, Sony defended itself and its actions.

"On Friday, April 22nd we notified PlayStation Network customers via a post on the PlayStation Blog that an intrusion had occurred," Tim Schaaff, president of Sony Network Entertainment International, said. "That blog, by the way, has been rated one of the top-twenty most influential on the Internet, right behind the White House's blog. It has a highly visible and deeply engaging relationship with our customers and is one of the best, fastest and most direct means of communicating with them."

He continued saying that if you issue "vague or speculative statements before you have specific and reliable information—you either confuse and panic people, without giving them useful facts, or you bombard them with so many announcements that they become background noise."

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