It's been three weeks since PlayStation Network went down, resulting in the compromising of 77 million registered accounts, the exposing of personal information, multiplayer becoming temporarily nonexistent and a chorus of criticism from consumers, commentators--even Congress.
Players haven't been the only ones affected by the downtime, however, with several developers telling me the nearly month-long hiatus is now impacting game making, scheduling and publishing. Frustration has been rising.
Not helping matters, I'm told, has been an uncomfortably quiet Sony, with very few concrete answers on PSN's status for its partners.
Obviously, the downtime is most stressful for multiplayer games. There's are key differences between multiplayer games, however, as developers have the ability to bypass the login prompt. Games reliant on connecting through the friends list alone (i.e. no matchmaking) have been affected the most. Without an active friends list, there's no way to play and test.
No testing? GLaDOS would be most displeased.== TEASER ==
Games able to dodge the friends list and join running servers (say, shooters) have been okay.
The PlayStation Store disappeared, too. Games that were relying, even partially, on PSN being online for release have had to rethink plans. Hamilton's Great Adventure, a quirky action game from Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 developer Fatshark, was supposed to launch on PSN and PC simultaneously.
"The PSN version will be announced at a later date due to circumstances we can’t control," said Fatshark in a release earlier this week.
Asked to elaborate, Fatshark public relations representative Gunnar Johansson explained:
"It’s a bit frustrating when the one and only store selling our game is closed, but we’ll be on the virtual shelf as soon as possible when PSN is up and running again," said Johansson. "The only thing is that we’d prefer to have the PSN and PC players getting the game at the same time, as no one wants to wait. But, this is the case now, and I guess we gotta roll with the punches. We’re talking with Sony almost on a daily basis, and they are being as helpful as they can be."
Progress is being made on rebooting PSN, though, as evidenced by astute users on the message board NeoGAF finding proof of recent updates on leaderboards for both Killzone 3 and LittleBigPlanet 2. PSN user named NanoNeya last played a Ghostbusters-themed LBP2 level 22 hours ago, as of this writing, which suggests some internal testing of public PSN servers is happening. That's something, right?
The relaunch of PSN will accompany updated firmware that will prompt users to reset their passwords.
Whether PSN comes back in any capacity this week, three weeks is long--too long. E3 is not very far away and many developers are working overtime to prepare demos to show press and retailers in LA.
"I've never been more grateful to only work on single player games," joked one developer I spoke to.