As our reliance on the internet becomes a bigger and bigger part of our everyday lives, the question about how much it matters when a service like PSN goes down comes up. With so many games to play, the Daily Reaction crew discusses if Sony’s network outages are genuinely an issue we really should be concerned with, or if gamers are blowing things out of proportion?
Dan: To be perfectly honest, I absolutely hate it when PSN goes down. A great number of my friends are spread around the world, and most of the time I would prefer to interact with them in a video game than on something like Facebook. The ability to not only chat with them, but to be able to actually interact with in a virtual space is a much more entertaining prospect, than simply sharing images or reading strings of text. So, when I can’t, it sucks.
This of course answers the question, does it matter when PSN goes down? Absolutely. To me, it really can put a wrench in plans and prevent me from interacting with a subset of my friends. But to what degree does it matter?
That is the bigger question that I think is going on here. I have read countless comments from users who have threatened to sell their console, or looking to sue because they can’t access Sony’s online infrastructure. This is where I think users have started to lose their sense of reality. Products, regardless of being digital or physical, are generally human made, which means they have a potential to be faulty, or have defects from time to time.
When we look at something that is as complex and connected as a online network, the ability for weaknesses to become exploited, or even cause interruptions are simply a reality of business in the modern era. Does this mean that every issue should be simply forgiven and forgotten? Probably not, but that is for each of us as consumers to determine for ourselves, as we are customers and what we chose to do with our money is up to us. But, that also doesn’t mean that we own the service and completely understand what is going on.
That is something that I personally have taken issue with Sony, a lack of communication. Back when Sony’s network was breached and user’s personal information was leaked, their response time was terrible, and the time it took for the community to be brought up to speed was inexcusable — at least me it was. Since then, the service has had various issues, but there have been visible improvements made to communicate what is going on behind the scenes with the network, and that is a good start, but there does need to be more.
As we are now seeing more and more outages, there are some questions being raised about what is causing the periodic down time for the service. This is an issue, but to me, it is more about understanding what is going on, than simply about the service being unavailable. I would love to be able to get back to farming for ore for my Blacksmith on Elder Scrolls Online, but I have a ton of games that I could easily be playing, that don’t require me to be connected.
So, again, does it matter that PSN goes down? Yes, but only because I personally put too much reliance on a service that I know can, and has gone down in the past.
Chandler: I agree wholeheartedly. I love being connected in every aspect of my life. It sucks when any network goes down, and sometimes it does impact me. For example, today I wanted to download the new free games on Plus, but I couldn’t get a reliable connection to the network. I went about my day, recording Bad Gamers and writing this Daily Reaction, and at some point the network was tentatively back up and I started my downloads. Did those couple of hours matter? Honestly, I probably won’t touch those games for a couple of days anyway, so whether they got downloaded at 2:00 or 5:30 really makes little difference.
The experience is going to be different for everyone. Most often, the PSN downtime or maintenance is during my work hours, so it doesn’t affect me at all. The frequency is a little alarming though. It does seem that the PSN is down far more often than Xbox Live, but that might be due to my not opening an Xbox or being aware of its network status. even with the frequency of the outages, does a few hours every couple of weeks warrant a call to arms against Sony? In general, my long term evening and weekend gaming sessions go uninterrupted.
Inevitably, any downtime is affecting someone somewhere, but it’s unlikely that there are people that end up affected 100% of the time. In fact, if anyone is affected by every single PSN outage, it is Sony themselves. On our side, we may not be able to play some games online or access the PSN store, but for them, any downtime is lost business and angry customers. Sony probably has more right to be upset about the downtime than I do if I’m reading about it on my lunch break, but as you said, Dan, it’s not as much about the service outage as it is about the level of communication that we get about it.
For PS4 owners, we are paying to play online. Now that fee comes with a bevy of free games, discounts, and perks, but let’s take all of that away. Let’s say that our $50 a year is getting us online play and that is it. Now let’s say the PSN is down for 24 hours every month of the year. That’s a little more than a buck sixty. One dollar and sixty four cents to be exact. The hours that aren’t playing your console, or are at work or school or sleeping, or even the time spent just going to the bathroom during the year probably siphons more money from the subscription than the actual PSN downtime. Is it inconvenient? You bet! I hate it when PSN goes down during prime hours. But is it highway robbery that we’re getting charged for it? I can’t answer that for you.
I’m a social gamer, thanks to the PS4. It’s opened me up to a world of playing games with friends, or even just party chatting while playing different games. It’s a big part of how my wife and I interact when we game, and that connection is a crucial ingredient. However I remember a time when the PSN was down a lot more. Back when I was playing the PS1 and PS2, the network never seemed to be online, and I was doing just fine then. I’ve got a slew of solitary experiences I should probably be playing instead of grinding levels in Elder Scrolls Online or wishing for a Gjallahorn in Destiny, so in those few times that the PSN outage hits me — which can really happen at the most inopportune times — I see it as a brief respite from a trap and dependence for online that I’ve built for myself.