The E3 Expo is normally an ideal promotional event for the big three gaming hardware companies. Hordes of fans, the gaming press, and business partners hang on Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo's every word at this show to hear about the new game console or game platform they'll be introducing.
But this year all that attention comes at a not-so-ideal time for Sony.
When Sony takes the stage at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Monday, it will only have been six weeks since 77 million customers of its PlayStation Network found out their personal information had been compromised in a security breach. It will have been three weeks since PSN got up and running again, and just three days since the big apology for all of this--free games to download, premium service, free movie rentals--was sent customers' way.
In other words, the wound is still fresh for many customers; the same people who look forward to Sony's E3 news. Which leads us to wonder, will Sony even address the security lapse?
It's easy enough to imagine that it won't.
First, it has already officially apologized. Kazuo Hirai, the head of Sony's networked entertainment business, bowed in asking for forgiveness at a Tokyo press conference in early May. A short while later Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer issued a public apology too, this time in a blog post.
Second, as of today, Sony has made good on pretty much everything Hirai initially promised. It got PSN back online, it got the PlayStation Store working again, and it created a place for customers to register for free identity theft monitoring.
Also as of today, customers who were signed up with PSN before April 20 should be able to download two free games and rent free movies this weekend.
So why would Sony bring it up on what is the gaming division's biggest stage next week?
A couple reasons. There are at least three countries full of customers, including Sony's home turf of Japan along with Hong Kong and South Korea, who still do not have restored access to PSN. It's an American show, but a global audience will be watching. Will Sony address the continued security concerns in those countries?
The security situation there continues to be a giant cloud hanging over the whole company. Even though there haven't been any specific attacks on PSN again recently, hackers still have their claws out for Sony.
Yesterday, a group of hackers calling themselves Lulzsec posted 150,000 customer names, passwords, addresses, and phone numbers from the Web sites of Sony Pictures, the company's film division, and Sony BMG, its music label, in Belgium and the Netherlands. Lulzsec doesn't even claim to be "elite" in the hacking game. The group insisted yesterday that the information it downloaded from Sony's servers wasn't that hard to get.
And the group, which describes itself as small, is currently raising money for future exploits, potentially again targeting Sony. And it's likely not the only ones who have Sony in their crosshairs.
Now, the Sony Pictures server vulnerability is not really the gaming division's problem. But security is obviously a company-wide concern. Or it should be. It's clear that it's a game for hackers now to beat up on Sony, hence the "lulz" in Lulzsec.
Sony probably prefers to talk about new games and get into the details about its Next-Generation Portable next week. But it wouldn't hurt to address the elephant in the room.