While the holiday season may be a time for togetherness and family, plenty of gamers prefer spending their December 25th in the company of a shiny new console. Unfortunately, those who had hoped to repeat that tradition for 2014 were met with some disappointment.
By now gamers are well aware of the DDoS attacks that struck both PSN and Xbox Live on Christmas Day. The attacks were allegedly perpetrated by several hacker groups, and left the aforementioned online services unavailable for several days. In fact, while Sony and Microsoft are reporting that their services are stable, some are still unable to connect.
Even so, it seems the worst is behind us, and gamers can now enjoy online experiences like Destiny, Grand Theft Auto Online, and Netflix with little trouble. Some of those aforementioned games even extended special holiday-themed events as a type of goodwill gesture to those millions of gamers affected.
However, while individual publishers and developers have tried to offer some sort of goodwill gesture, neither Sony nor Microsoft has had much to say on the matter. So far, the most we have heard from the companies boils down to nebulous updates on their online service's usability. No outright apology and no move to make it right.
Obviously there is still time for both Microsoft and Sony to come out and talk about these outages, but some are expecting more than just a simple apology. Some want to see Microsoft and Sony offer compensation for the holiday gaming lost.
But, before getting into a discussion over whether Microsoft and Sony owe gamers anything, it's important to point out the Christmas attacks were not hacks. As far as we know, several groups (including Lizard Squad) hit Sony and Microsoft with DDos attacks, a type of server connection spam that essentially buckles a website or online service. So, while these groups did attack Sony and Microsoft they, again as far as we know, did not hack into the company to obtain secure information.
That's all to say this is not the PSN outage of a few years back, when hackers did break into Sony's servers and accessed privileged information. In that case, Sony was facing harsh criticism not just for the month-long down time but for the vulnerability in their security. And as a result they gifted all PSN subscribers with some free games, a month of PS Plus, and a 1-year subscription to an identity theft protection company.
So with no information stolen, talk of a goodwill gesture will likely center on the former two options: a free game or an extra month of PSN/Xbox Live. Even though we only lost a few days, it would be a nice gesture considering many used their free 30-day trial included with their console. And as far as free games are concerned, they have long been proven a successful way to placate disgruntled customers.
Then again, a few days without online services isn't necessarily cause for any goodwill gesture. This is not comparable to charging full price for a broken game or shipping a game with known problems; someone outside of Microsoft and Sony's purview chose to attack them. Could they have been better prepared? Yes, but that still doesn't change the fact that these attackers did what they did simply for laughs. So are we to fault Microsoft and Sony enough to expect compensation?
As was mentioned, gamers are still experiencing problems, but even so the worst is apparently behind us. With that in mind, it stands to reason that Microsoft and Sony will have more to say about the attacks in the next few hours. We hope that they have more to say than “Sorry,” but we will have to wait and see.
Do you think Sony and Microsoft owe their subscribers compensation? If so, what would you like to see offered as a goodwill gesture?-Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina