In a letter posted to the official Sony PlayStation blog last night, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer acknowledged that this has been a trying and frustrating time for Sony customers and promised that the company is doing everything it can to get online services back up and running.Stringer noted that Sony has suffered two major blows in recent months: first the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and now a criminal attack against its players and its security. The letter reaffirms that the company is working hard to recover from them both. He also answered questions about why Sony hasn’t been more forthcoming with communication to its customers, citing that computer forensics is a “complex, time-consuming process,” and that the attackers had covered their tracks well.Perhaps most importantly, Stringer said that “in the coming days, we will restore service to the networks,” indicating that both PSN and SOE will return to service within days, not weeks. Also, he said that Sony has no confirmed evidence that credit card or personal information retrieved from the attack has been misused.Even so, Sony will offer AllClear ID Plus, an identity theft insurance policy, for one year to each PSN customer. Debix, the company that provides AllClear services, put together the plan for Sony, and the features straddle the line between their traditional AllClear ID Free and AllClear ID Pro plans. The policy will include monitoring and surveillance of credit and personal information with alerts to customers and law enforcement if any data is found on trading sites or misused, and an insurance policy of up to $1 million in financial relief if someone’s identity is stolen as a result of the breach.Whether or not this, combined with Sony’s “Welcome Back” package, will be enough to restore gamers’ faith and keep them from heading for the exits remains to be seen. Still, it’s clear that we’ll see PSN return to service little by little over the coming days: that is unless this weekend’s proposed third strike against Sony takes place.Read more at the PlayStation Blog and Slashdot
One of the benefits of purchasing your PC games through Steam is the cost savings you can enjoy due to the regular sales the service has. There’s always games set at full price when they launch, but they soon fall and eventually become available for a handful of dollars.Now one developer is trying something new on Steam–offering early access to an unfinished game, but charging $90 for the privilege.That game is Planetary Annihilation by Uber Entertainment, and it actually started life as a Kickstarter back in August last year. Charging $90 for an unfinished game understandably may seem a little ridiculous to a gamer seeing it for the first time on Steam, but the price was set back when the Kickstarter was still active and trying to reach its $900,000 funding goal. In the end the Kickstarter raised $2.2 million.Uber makes it clear in the Steam forums that this is the price set at the time of the Kickstarter. If you want to play the game between June and the end of August it will cost $90. At this point features aren’t locked down, but your purchase means you get access to the final retail game with all the add-ons.If you don’t mind waiting, then buying the game between September and November will cost $60, which nets you an almost complete, but unbalanced game. After that, the game is set to launch in December and you’ll pay whatever price they set for the final game. Basically the longer you wait the cheaper it gets, so the $90 you pay today is for the impatient or those gamers really enthused by the game but who missed the Kickstarter.The pricing strategy makes sense when you understand it, but that clearly hasn’t happened within the Steam gaming community. There’s also an increasing number of zero-rated reviews on Metacritic, many of which mention the price as a reason. Hopefully Uber can manage the situation and launch to great reviews in December.