Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Reading: PlayStation Brand Faces Uncertain Future

kevin-butler-playstation-move-screenshot-commercialOn Friday, I wrote about the steps PlayStation Network users should take in light of the recent breach of Sony’s online service. The crisis has yet to be resolved, which means it’s still fertile ground for discussion. Discussion about online security, the hacking community, and Sony’s impotent response to the attacks.

Gamasutra’s Colin Campbell took Sony to task on Friday, contextualizing the mess within the general decline of the PlayStation brand. Sony ruled the previous generation of videogames with the immortal PlayStation 2, but the success of both the Xbox 360 and the Wii relegated the PlayStation 3 to an eponymous third place. As Campbell writes, “Today, the PlayStation brand is in gentle decline. And the events of the past week could accelerate that decline into something more serious.”

Campbell spoke with author Karen Post, who cites JetBlue, Toyota, and Domino’s Pizza as companies that successfully rebranded by engaging their customers and admitting their failures. Sony’s done neither of those things, says Campbell:

“I'm not here to drag Sony through the mud for its incompetent custodianship of your data. Rather for its inability to respond to the crisis. For me, the Sony PlayStation brand is being eroded by Sony's own charmless posturing. The most human thing to come out of the company this week was the statement that the hackers would be hunted down "no matter where in the world they might be located." Surely this is the least attractive response imaginable; the cry-baby tough guy.”

His proposed response would be to launch a transparent campaign of customer interaction. Hold open Q&As with worried users. Post thorough explanations of what happened and what Sony plans to do to fix it. Sony could be fighting bad press with good press. Instead, it’s barely fighting at all.