Earlier today, gaming blog Kotaku reported on a rumored PlayStation 3 feature, set to be unveiled during next week's Game Developer's Conference. The key word, of course, is "rumored," a word which has since gotten the blog into hot water with Sony. The original article, which boasted one anonymous source, a smattering of founded speculation and repeated use of the aforementioned keyword, detailed "PlayStation Home," a visual mixture of the Xbox 360's achievement system and the Wii's customizable avatars.
Though most rumors come and go with little input from publishers ("no comment" has become de rigueur), this one became notable as soon as Kotaku was asked to take it down. In a calm and straightforward follow-up article, Kotaku's Brian Crecente reveals that the blog's failure to comply has led to a complete dismissal and excommunication from Sony. It seems clear that such a response lends the rumor more veracity, but the response itself is far more interesting in what it means for the rest of the blogosphere.
What did Kotaku do wrong? In contacting Sony for comment on the initial story, Crecente was informed that publishing the report could harm the business relationship between the two entities. Unresponsive to thinly-veiled threats, Crecente published the story, citing concern with informing readers and not with maintaining a corporation's announcement schedule. In an e-mail to Crecente, David Karakker, senior director of Sony's corporate communications, stated that, "I am very disappointed that after trying to work with you as closely as possible and provide you and your team with access and information, you chose to report on this rumor.... I can't defend outlets that can't work cooperatively with us."
This doesn't appear to be an issue of cooperation at all. It's an issue of control. A major corporation is lashing out at a news platform where it is unable to pull all the strings and directly exert influence. In the ideal world of public relations, journalists would regurgitate press releases verbatim with nary a thought spared to truth or timing. All this comes just a week before GDC and Sony's promised meeting with bloggers -- the opening of a dialogue between "us" and "them."
By doing our job and informing readers, have we become the enemy?
[Update: Sony and Kotaku have settled their differences and reopened communications. As Brian Crecente puts it, "We were doing our job and Sony was doing theirs and now we can both continue to do so." Thanks AssemblyLineHuman.]