PlayStation Network Outage a Disaster for Sony

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Just like that, Sony’s PlayStation Network is down, and hard. Know how I know? Because I just tried to watch an episode of Friday Night Lights over dinner with my wife and couldn’t. My PS3 kept flashing a “you must first sign into the PlayStation Network to sign into Netflix” popup. I tried signing into the PlayStation Network direct and got one of Sony’s famous mystery error codes.

So I gave up, pulled out my wife’s MacBook Air, and wired it into our LCD TV’s spare HDMI port. Problem solved. Except apparently not for the potentially tens of millions of Sony PS3 customers who don’t have high-end laptops and HDMI cables to hand, and who depend on the PlayStation Network for everything from streaming video to rapping with friends to squaring off in a game of Killzone 3.

And here’s the thing: It’s not just a little brownout, or a glitch, or a momentary hiccup–it looks like a full-fledged meltdown. According to Sony chief spokesperson Patrick Seybold:

“While we are investigating the cause of the Network outage, we wanted to alert you that it may be a full day or two before we’re able to get the service completely back up and running.”

Hold up, a day or two? It sounds like the network went down already last night, and Sony’s been working on it since, but 24 to 48 hours? I’m sure we’ll manage to find other stuff to do (you know, like go for a walk, or read a book, or maybe switch to an Xbox 360) but let me tell you what else happened this week. Portal 2 came out. And Mortal Kombat. Which means anyone with a PS3 and a copy of those games is flying solo. So much for Portal 2‘s online co-op, or Mortal Kombat‘s “King of the Hill” mode.

How many people are affected? 70 million registered users. What caused the crash? No one knows. Hacker group “Anonymous” put on a show (or tried to) a few weeks ago, purportedly causing network slowdown by spamming Sony’s servers with denial of service attacks. Sony only vaguely acknowledged it at the time, and it’s anyone’s guess what brought the whole farm catastrophically crashing down now.

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