The fallout from the PlayStation Network hack has caused a flurry of debate about the reliability of digital distribution.
What’s not yet clear is the extent to which developers will be hurt because of consumer mistrust.
We contacted several developers, who rely on digital distribution, to hear their take on the situation.
“We’re rooting for Sony to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. PSN is one of our primary channels for reaching console game fans, and it does feel as though Sony should compensate customers, if not developers, for the outage,” said a PopCap official.
Sony have promised compensation for developers. Some will undoubtedly feel the brunt of the outage more, however.
For instance, Creat Studios have a number of titles available on PlayStation Network, including Cuboid, Mushroom Wars and Digger HD.
“The PSN downtime has certainly reduced our visibility as a company as most of our titles are sold through PSN,” said PR and marketing coordinator Bill Fryer.
“We have been long time partners with Sony and I feel that they understand how an outage like this affects developers like us. We have been in constant contact with Sony through this time and they have been accommodating with the dates of sales and marketing assets so far.
“Most of our titles are being sold through the PSN, so any PSN user base lost will affect our sales. But we are confident that this extended maintenance will provide a secure user interface that will work to restore this loss of confidence.”
Restoring confidence won’t be easy after a mass outage like this, though.
“It just goes to show how fragile the business is at this point in the evolution of digital distribution,” said Mel Kirk, VP of marketing at Zen Studios.
Zen develops and publishes pinball games across PSN and Xbox Live. Kirk said they were due to release Sorcerer’s Lair for Zen Pinball on April 26, but have been delayed as a result of the outage.
“Zen Studios has felt the impact just as hard as any other digital publisher on the platform,” she said.
“The PSN outage really is a bummer for all parties – developers, publishers and gamers alike – and it shows the need for heightened security and preventative measures to keep a system like PSN from being hacked.”
The immediate loss of business is regrettable, though Kirk thinks the situation will be worse for those that published games just before the outage.
“In all honesty, it will probably be a lot tougher on the guys who released games last week, or the week before. You really need the first few weeks’ sales momentum to carry you into the post-launch hype loss, and it might be tough for those guys to get that back unless Sony steps in and provides some support for them. We hope they do! The loss of a week’s worth of sales will be felt by every publisher regardless of how great or small the revenue is.”