Sony Hits Restart on Games Network

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Sony Corp. restored access to its videogame networks for many users. Now the company needs to fix its reputation.

The Japanese electronics company said Saturday that it began reopening its PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment services in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Mideast. Service to Japan and elsewhere in Asia will take longer to restore.

Sony's progress was a relief to customers eager to virtually punch, stab and kick one another online in popular new games such as Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.'s Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.'s "Mortal Kombat."

But branding experts agreed that Sony's image has taken a blow.

"Sony not only has to take technological steps to fix its security, but it also has to communicate what it has done," said Marc Rudov, a branding consultant based in Silicon Valley. "They need to over-secure the network and over-communicate what they've done." wholesale Android Tablets
I feel that all the stuff I bought from them—games, map packs for 'Call of Duty,' other games that I've downloaded, it doesn't seem like they were doing their fair share," he said.

A few trigger-happy gamers wandered into Fuzion Electronics in Los Angeles, saying they were prepared to switch, but only one did, said Michael Tran, a store manager. The family-owned business fixes and resells videogame consoles.

Mr. Tran said few users likely ditched their PlayStations because Sony's network is free to use. "If they were paying for it, then there would be more backlash," he said.

Sony hasn't provided an estimate of the incident's potential cost, though at least one analyst has put that figure at more than $1 billion. Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, put the figure at closer to $200 million, including the cost of lost revenue, the investigation and the company's new security measures.

Mr. Pachter said PlayStation 3 owners are unlikely to ditch the console or the online service because of the investment they've made in games that only run on that device. But, he said, "If the system is hacked again, I think Sony will have a problem."

Winning new customers is an issue as well. Steve Beck, a technology management consultant at cg42 LLC, said Sony will need to demonstrate—in its games and through advertising—that its security is beefed up. "They need to dial up the advertising and marketing," he said. "Then eventually everyone forgets."

Sony's restarted service includes the release of a mandatory software upgrade for all PlayStation 3 videogame consoles. The network's operation will be limited at first, offering Internet-based game play, movie rentals and music services through Sony and restored support for online video streaming through companies such as Netflix Inc. The PlayStation Store, which allows users to purchase games and additional content, is one service that won't be available at the outset.

Sony will wait to restart the PlayStation Network in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. One reason is that Japan's industry ministry has asked Tokyo-based Sony for a more detailed explanation on how the online service works and what security measures the company is implementing.

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