Return of PlayStation Network Less Than Triumphant

Sony’s PlayStation Network has been rebuffed in the company’s home country. The game-maker relaunched the troubled online service elsewhere around the world, but it has been blocked in Japan by government order.

Japan wants Sony to implement further preventive security measures and make more progress in restoring consumer confidence in the safety of personal data before it gets the green light, a Japanese government official told Dow Jones Newswires on Sunday.

Sony had been meeting with Japanese officials between May 6 and 13, but the government was unconvinced that the company fully implemented measures it outlined in a May 1 press conference, according to the Dow Jones report. The Japanese government wants to make sure that Sony’s preventive measures hold up to countermeasures taken in the past by other firms.

The government wants to protect the personal data of its citizens in light of the theft of personal data in April’s hacker assault on Sony. In messages on underground boards, hackers have warned of further attacks. Although Sony has worked for weeks to secure the network and get it back up, Japanese officials believe there is still a risk for further intrusions and security lapses.

Sony did not respond to the E-Commerce Times’ request for comments by press time.

Gaming Playfield May Change

Japanese officials are apparently insisting on extra caution with Sony because Sony is a Japanese company.

“Since Japanese companies do exceptionally well — in terms of business — within their own borders, I would think that a considerable amount of the data stolen was of Japanese customers,” Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat, told the E-Commerce Times.

“So, the Japanese government has a right to be concerned — especially without hard answers as to why this happened. But they appear to more concerned than other countries, which still puzzles me,” he added.

While the attack was on Sony, other companies that process consumer data should also be on alert. Sony was not necessarily more vulnerable than others.

“Considering the nature of the attack, I think all consumers should be concerned about not only Sony, but about the potential for this to happen to other companies. Young consumers, especially in the United States, have very short attention spans and don’t seem to pay attention until something really bad happens to them,” said McGregor.

Microsoft could end up the big winner with its Xbox 360. PlayStation’s reputation has received heavy gunfire, so gamers who were on the fence over Sony and Microsoft may have been knocked onto Microsoft’s side.

“This situation definitely has the potential to reshape the gaming playing field, and I’m sure that some customers won’t come back — but it will likely be a year or so before we know the full impact,” said McGregor. “And the end result will depend greatly on Sony’s continued response to the situation, as well as its ability to lure customers back with an even better gaming experience.”

Sony’s Road to Recovery

Japan’s conservative take on the relaunch of PSN may be warranted. PlayStation is an important part of Japan’s economy and strong competition against the Xbox.

“There are many reasons for Japan’s government to give Sony a hard time — and I suspect there’s not any one single motivator,” Steven Savage, technology project manager and Geek 2.0 blogger, told the E-Commerce Times.

“First, there’s general suspicion after such a breach — and this is a huge breach of confidence at a nationally prominent company, so you can’t blame them for being cautious,” he said. ‘Secondly, Japan is having quite a few troubles post-tsunami, so there’s every reason to make sure such a prominent company keeps its nose clean. Third, let’s face it, after a mess like this, would you blame any government for not trusting Sony?”

Savage finds himself on the very edge that is working against Sony. “I’m a gamer. When I changed roommates, my former roommate took their PS3 with them,” said Savage. “I was going to replace it — but now I’ll stick with my Xbox instead.”

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