Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
SOE is doomed

Just one less humorous afterthought on MMORPG companies losing subscribers: Technically SOE has zero players for all their MMORPGs together right now. When these games will be back up at an unspecified future date, SOE will still not have any revenue for another month, because they are handing out free 30-day subscriptions to everybody affected. And after that they will have to see how many people still trust them with their credit card data.

I do think there is a non-negligible chance of SOE closing shop, or at least significantly down-sizing the company, before the end of the year.
well honestly, SOE was in trouble BEFORE this. They downsized a number of the studios and completely cancelled "The Agency". That is not the sign of a healthy company.

Add to it the misery of having no paying customers for probably a month at the best case scenario this might very well be the nail in the coffin. I find it really sad because I like the EQ franchises for content.

The real question is, what will those players go to? Most Non-WoW gamers have a heaping of hatred for WoW players. So I don't see them adding to the Blizzard balance sheet. I think more than likely they will head elsewhere. My hope is Rift, as the EQ2 player base is both seasoned and loyal... but only time will tell.
Rift was already attracting a huge number of ex-EQ2 players, I suspect largely because of Hartsman's involvement with Rift. And as Exeter said, most people not playing WoW specifically want an alternative to WoW for a variety of different reasons.
Completely agree that there is a good chance of SOE closing.

This is turning into a PR nightmare for Sony and SOE is a minor part of the big conglomerate.

It's a pity but the numbers are getting VERY big right now.

Data Center rebuys
3 security teams trying to get a handle on this...

it all adds up... the bill to continue operations was big enough for Sony to pause the decision for a month... so it's anyone's guess what the go forward will be.

I have a bit of a professional interest here. All I can say is that this is historic and will be a game changer.
Future post idea Tobold

What does the SOE experience do for these current trends.

Facebooking online games (Blizz-real names fiasco)

Player trust in online communities

Cyber-physical convergence (eg - wow guild chat to mobile devices)
[funny aside here about an executive who found out in a meeting his epiced out 80 toon was hacked during our meeting... it's a good story]

Trust issues - should players always give bogus data to untrustworthy online services?
I continue to be surprised at how poorly Sony is handling this whole situation. It's not like they are some upstart "tech bubble" company. They've been around a while. They should know how to address a situation better than this. That said, while I am not subscribed to any SoE games, I am a PS3 owner and PSN user. Thankfully I never gave them my credit card info. But at this point, I would not be surprised if there are significant repercussions for both SoE and Sony as a whole. In the U.S., the Feds are looking at Sony, and that is never a good thing.
I am normally an optimistic person but I was considering doing a blog post on this same subject but found myself without the time. I totally agree. There is no way I would want them to have my credit card data right now, or probably for the next ten years.
Yes, but is the chance of SOE actually staying afloat non-negligible?

Some would say not.
Not to defend Sony, because they did properly screw up here, but if you're only not giving your CC info to *them*, but you're fine with giving it to other companies, then you've learned nothing and are no more safe today than you were a month ago.

This kind of security issue is not unique to Sony and is not due to some specific negligence that only they are guilty of. It is not even vaguely unique to gaming/online services.

The fact is, the easily found data about your identity is already as good as public. Things like your SSN are a bit trickier, but not that hard. (Although I hate giving mine out online.)

Using a credit card always has some risk. Game time cards, one-time-CC numbers, and using a separate CC card for certain categories of purchases help mitigate that, but all security comes at the cost of convenience.

Incidentally, this is why you should always use credit cards and not debit cards. At least in the US, there are a lot more liability protections around credit cards.
"I do think there is a non-negligible chance of SOE closing shop, or at least significantly down-sizing the company, before the end of the year."

You should probably edit to include, 'again'.

Mind you, if you count down-sizing the way some video-game industry morons - sorry, watchers - do (OMG someone laid off a bunch of contract programmers/artists after their game was built! Game is doomed!), you could certainly count the hired security teams as down-sized after their job is finished.

Why would you not trust Sony with your credit card information now? After this debacle, I assume they will have the tightest security money can buy.
I'm not sure this is game-changer, so much as a harbinger of things to come. There is just a fundamental problem with the way cardholder-not-present transactions work at the moment.

It's almost impossible for anyone (on the phone or over the internet) to verify anybody's identity. All it takes is one leak of your details from somewhere (how securely do you think that little family-run hotel in Spain stored your data?) and you're in trouble.

Credit cards, although convenient, are fundamentally broken in their current incarnation. It amazes me that WOW requires an authenticator code, yet my Visa transactions don't.
This is why SOE subscription cards exist. And I'm glad I used one to play EQ2, although this didn't affect me since I'm in the U.S. (supposedly).

I mainly did this because I didn't want to bothering having to remove my credit card info from their system. My sub would just end when I didn't care enough to buy another card.
"Credit cards, although convenient, are fundamentally broken in their current incarnation. It amazes me that WOW requires an authenticator code, yet my Visa transactions don't."

Your WoW account is worth more on the black market than your visa card number. (Source: Symantec)
@moonmonster, you speak the truth, other companies may very well be at risk. But until they get hacked, we don't know, and they have not violated our trust.

@Oscar, I would like to assume that too. However, such assumptions are dangerous. I have not seen them publish anything even claiming anything to that effect yet, so we'll have to wait and see. Unfortunately, security is a company habit more than a just a company policy. And bad habits die hard.

That's fascinating. Is that a credit card number on its own, or one with all the supporting info (e.g. CVN, address etc). It's the latter that a vendor will take from you (and thus has the capacity to lose)?

Do you have a link for that Symantec information where I can check the details? Instinctively, it seems odd that the information that would allow you to create a WOW account, commit widespread fraud etc would be worth less than a WOW account on its own.
SoE tanking or not will have absolutly zero effect on the mmorpg market, because they already have no influence whatsoever on it, or am i missing something?
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