Games, how they work, and how they should work

The un-hackable PSN

Welcome back! I know it’s been a while, but let’s get cracking straight away!

I’m sure all of you know about the recent system outage of the Playstation Network. I saw something like this coming, but why didn’t Sony, or at least why didn’t they act?


One statement. The claim of being impossible to hack. Never tell a bored programmer with too much time that they can’t hack into something. I’m not saying don’t make things un-hackable, just a little forethought by the PR team could have easily prevented a major attack. Advertise user security, not the inability to mod the console in any way. On the subject of security, the PSN internal system was apparently not very hi-tech. I’m no expert, and the details are hazy, but people were able to break into developer version of PSN store and using fictional card details they could buy anything, and it wouldn’t cost them a penny. That’s just simply absurd, for a company wanting to keep everything private and in their ownership yet they kept development tools functional (even if a little hacking was needed to reveal it). If Sony had just fixed all the problems right there, “Anonymous” would probably have let them be and eventually whittled away into nothing more than a memory. They didn’t. Never piss off a community of programmers by suing one of them because he wanted an open source operating system on an “un-hackable” device.

So that didn’t work, but what does? An excellent example of a company that works with its community members rather than defending against them is Valve. The company is basically built on the philosophy that community modders are better game/content makers than they are. This doesn’t mean that they are immune though. There was a major leak of everything they were working on for Half-Life 2, but this was actually illegal and the perpetrator was jailed, whereas Sony’s issue was not in breach of any law just the terms of use. Anyway, this didn’t harm them in the long term as you might expect, as it made them realise how poor the game was and a massive effort was put into it to make it an incredible sequel. Now they have a thriving community of modders (including myself) and a clear boundary is laid out. Whatever Valve is working on is not worth stealing yet, but what’s done is free to use/edit. This kind of relationship is a healthy one and has proved very beneficial to both Valve and successful modders.

Creating allies is safer than building high walls. Giving people free stuff to use within limits is far easier to control than keeping everything out of reach while shouting about it.

As you may know, exams are starting soon for me. This means I may not get time to write blog posts as frequently as I’d like, so don’t expect regular posts but keep a eye open!


Comments on: "The un-hackable PSN" (6)

  1. My boyfriend talks about about the current hacking, 100% more up to date than I am, but it was enjoyable to see someone else talk about it. <3 You speak wisely, dear one.

  2. Hey, I’m doing a game-centric blog of my own over at and a friend of mine recommended I ask you to do some guest writing for it. Why don’t you check it out?

    • Sounds like fun! I free for a couple of months now, so yeah, just say what kind of thing you would like and I’ll see what I can do.

      • Well I’m writing reviews for games that you can pick up second-hand or through services like Steam for good prices, to help advise people with limited budgets. So if you can think of a game that fits that criteria that you’d like to review and then post it up both here and on my blog that’d be great. We can put shout outs to each other’s work and hopefully get a crossover in traffic!

        Just make sure to give a once over on the games I’ve already reviewed to make sure you don’t do a duplicate, and read a couple to see the kind of thing I’m trying to talk about with each one. If you think of a piece you’d like to write, let me know!

      • I’ve written a review of Magicka if you’d like to take a look. How should I send it to you?

  3. Awesome! Either copy-paste it into an email or as a .doc attachment. I’ve just updated my profile to include my email address. Send it over and I’ll look at it right away.

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