Update: Some aspects of the PSN are back online, but not in all regions, and the PSN Store is still offline.
Imagine you owned a business where you made a nice product. Also imagine that you were incapable of selling directly to your consumers, so you partnered with a store to carry your products for you. This store promised that they’d be open 24 hours a day and that they’d be helping you promote your product to millions of potential customers each day. Like most stores, you’d have to share your space with the competition, but whenever you released a new product, it would get a featured placement in the store for a little while. Now, imagine that you were happy enough with the arrangement that you committed your products solely to that store and never partnered with anybody else to sell your product. What if the lights suddenly went out in the store with no indication of when they’d be back on?
For many developers, they’re facing some serious problems with the PSN Store being down. As the PSN limps back online, the storefront is still closed and a few developers and publishers have begun to comment on it a bit. While it’s not good practice to come out and say how many estimated losses they’re dealing with at this time, the losses do appear to be significant for some. The PixelJunk team has publicly stated that the outage is hurting them and have encouraged fans to buy some PixelJunk swag, such as t-shirts to support the team. Ubisoft has said that their losses have been noticeable but that they have the Xbox Marketplace to buffer the effects. Really though, the larger publishers still have disc-based sales and other platforms as revenue streams, it’s the smaller developers that are in danger.
For some of these developers, it has been nearly a month with no revenue stream. Nothing has been said in public as to whether or not Sony plans on subsidizing publishers and developers for lost revenue, but they have no legal obligation to do so. No employees have broken ranks to speak out as to whether or not their pay has been affected, but if the outage continues companies are going to have to start taking measures to stay afloat.
So aside from the PSN Store coming back online, what can PSN-exclusive publishers do? Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done. It might come as a hard lesson that going exclusive these days is a risky move unless there is some subsidizing that is taking place from the hardware maker. I’m wondering if this will make publishers think twice about putting their games exclusively on a single platform. While this security breach only brought down the PSN, it could have definitely happened to other services as well.
It’s hard to say what the ultimate fallout will be for smaller developers and publishers that are locked into PSN exclusivity, but they’ve definitely taken one pretty hard on the chin in this process. Not only do they lose revenue that can’t be recovered, but their games have aged. In this industry it’s very rare for games to see a sales surge after the first month or two from launch. Sony has said that they’ll be accelerating PSN updates in the short term to make up for the outage, which means stuff that launched before the store went down are about to get buried in a deluge of new content.
If you are waiting for the new PSN Store to come back up to 100% functionality, don’t forget about the games that launched just ahead of the outage and give them a fair shot.