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PSN devs offer mixed reactions to cost of outage


As consumers scramble to deal with the ramifications (identity theft!) of the PlayStation Network breach and subsequent outage, PSN developers are struggling with anxieties of their own.

"PSN being out definitely affects our bottom line," Q-Games Dylan Cuthbert told IndustryGamers, "but as long as the people who were going to be playing Shooter 2 and other PixelJunk titles will get right back in there playing them when it comes back up, we'll be happy and hopefully income won't be dented too much." That could prove to be a big "but" -- Cuthbert's comments came before we knew PSN users' personal information had been stolen and consumer trust in Sony perhaps irrevocably damaged.

Speaking to Develop, a UK-based developer, wishing to remain anonymous, observed that "people will be a bit more wary about using their credit card on PSN, so obviously we're nervous about sales."

"There may be a lot of people who won't want to spend their money through PlayStation Network now," the same developer added. "We're expecting a 5–10 percent drop in business." The dev estimated that the studio has already lost "thousands" in expected revenue.

And just imagine the stress levels of studios crippled by the unfortunate timing of being scheduled to launch their games on PSN over the past two weeks. While Ubisoft has declined to comment on the outage's anticipated effect on its downloadable title Outland (which missed its scheduled launch on PSN yesterday, but is available on Xbox Live Arcade today), we can assume the company will survive. But what about a mini developer?

"Sony will be helping us retain key focus for an extra few weeks as they understand how something like this can affect a small dev studio like ours," Open Emotion's Paddy Murphy told IGN, suggesting that the studio's Minis title, Mad Blocker Alpha (pictured), which launched last Tuesday just before Sony shut down PSN, would receive some extra promotional placement when the PlayStation Store is back online. "As long as they can give us some marketing assistance when the PSN is back up, we are sure we will be able to recoup our potential losses." Like Cuthbert, Murphy was speaking before the full extent of the PSN attack and data breach was known.

"It's hard to gauge how many customers will defect because of this," industry analyst Michael Pachter told Joystiq, "but my guess is not very many." Stewart Gilray of Just Add Water shared a similar sort of optimism about the PSN incident. "Actually, we're not worried in the slightest about this," the Gravity Crash developer said to us. "Yes it's a PITA, but it happens all the time." He recalled the Xbox Live outage back in late 2007 and last year's Halo: Reach leak "due to similar problems" (though neither resulted in the theft of users' personal information).

"Our belief is that whilst this is terrible news," added Gilray, "that it won't affect the userbase too much." Either way, the incident has perhaps exposed an unforeseen risk in developing for the digital marketplace -- at least, in developing for a single digital market. While indie studios have flourished in recent years through the rise of downloadable game platforms, those dependent on PSN for their very livelihoods are suddenly in a tight spot. What responsibility does Sony have to help them through it?

"We're certainly hoping we'll get something back from Sony," the anonymous UK developer pined. "Perhaps they'll cut their royalties a little bit for a short period, to make up for the losses."

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