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Gamasutra examines a PlayStation brand in crisis


Hard as it may be to recall, at the turn of the century, "PlayStation" had replaced "Nintendo" as the colloquialism for "video game," and the PS2 was beginning its unprecedented run of 150 million units shipped. The brand was nothing short of "awe-inspiring," as Gamasutra business editor Colin Campbell recounts in a recent editorial. But a decade later, "the PlayStation brand is in gentle decline," observes Campbell. "And the events of the past week could accelerate that decline into something more serious."

In his thorough assessment of Sony's "predictably pitiful" response to the current crisis, Campbell poses a most distressing possibility. Imagine if, in a year's time, we were to look back and reflect: "'It just kinda went away, didn't it? Sony entirely laid the blame on the hackers, launched a lot of legal flak, refused to take any responsibility, offered the minimum clarity and token recompense. But no-one cares any more. At least they've encrypted my personal data now.'" Could we really settle for that?

While Campbell lays out an otherwise convincing ideal game plan for Sony to follow -- where is KB on this one, really? -- he's also suggesting that, aside from unavoidable short-term costs, the crisis could blow over for the company. It would seem, then, that in order to prevent such a sorry (non) response from Sony, video game media and consumers alike will have to act and not just react. Now that we've changed our passwords and checked our credit reports, what next? Do we just sit back and hope a freebie is coming our way? Is that how little it takes for us to forgive and forget? Or can we continue to push Sony for a respectful response -- and, if that fails, take our business elsewhere?

The video game community at large doesn't have to clean up Sony's mess, but we owe it to ourselves and each other to ensure Sony does the job right. Otherwise, we risk continuing to be treated as uninvolved, adolescent basement-dwellers. The hackers among us shouldn't be the only ones to teach Sony a lesson.

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