The ApocalyPS3 – When Good Networks Go Bad

You know, there’s a few lessons to be learned here.  Number one is that I’m writing this post because the Playstation Network is down, and number two is that Sony didn’t really do enough to communicate things effectively.  Let me set the stage.  After Canada’s stunning 3-2 overtime Olympic hockey win over the US, I decided to go online and play some Modern Warfare 2.  No dice.  I received an error message stating I had been logged out of the PSN.  Tried to play the solo campaign, and it still kicked me out of the game stating that my trophy information could not be sync’d.

Enter the internet.  I hopped online to research the error code, and saw on Gamespot Forums that pretty much everyone was getting this error.  No responses from Sony (not surprised, as it was not the official PSN forum).  Checked my e-mail account to see if Sony had sent an update.  None.  I even checked the PSN Blog, but prior to 8:30 PM there was no post.  Last channel, Twitter… Luckily I’m a Playstation follower, and yes, there was a tweet from the goodly folks at Sony. 

Look, I used to manage the network at my company, and yeah, network outages can happen.  The key is how they’re communicated and managed.  Not all PSN users are on Twitter, but we all had to register our e-mail address to join PSN.  Hmmm… If Star Wars Galaxies servers were all up for this period, surely Sony’s e-mail infrastructure would have been okay?  Later that evening, Sony added a Blog post to advise they were aware of the problem, and were working on identifying root cause.  That’s about 4.5 hours after the outage began, and it’s about 4 hours too late for my money.

This story does, however, illustrate a good use of social media to help communicate.  It was really interesting that Sony tweeted before it added a blog post to their own website, and apparently, instead of e-mailing at all.  Sony Playstation does, of course, market its wares on Twitter, and I’m okay with that, because I choose to receive these updates.  Still, this is a great example of where companies goes beyond just hawking how great its products are using 140 characters or less.  It’s about presence, and being online when your community needs you…

So, it’s 9:15 PM EST on March 1, 2010.  As I wrote this post, the ApocalyPS3 came to an end, and service restored.  People tweeted about its restoration now for over an hour.  Sony just posted a blog entry about 1 minute ago…  Not bad, Sony, but there’s room for improvement.

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