TIME Video Games

The Surprising Reasons People Buy the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Wii U

Sony Launches PlayStation 4 In Japan As Console Retakes U.S. Retail Lead Over Microsoft's Xbox One
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The first customer to purchase the PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game console holds the box at the launch of the PS4 console at the Sony showroom in Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.

New data offers a few head-scratching reasons why consumers buy

Infometrics guru Nielsen just published the results of an inquiry into why people are buying the latest game systems from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. The results are surprising in part.

Consider the following chart, which breaks the decision-making variables impacting each system into “factors” ranked by survey respondents:

Nielsen

The chart’s results are weirder than they appear at first. Take resolution, the number of horizontal by vertical lines output as video signal, and constitutive of the number of pixels onscreen. Several first-wave, multi-platform games ran at higher resolution on the PlayStation 4 than the Xbox One, owing, everyone in the media’s assumed based on anecdotal developer chitchat, to disparity between the two systems’ processing power.

The presumption is that slight visual differences shouldn’t matter, that you’re just being slavish to detail if you’re obsessed with subtle pixel differentiation. Yet there it is, the topmost reason for buyers of Sony’s console.

And what’s “Blu-ray Player” doing as PS4 factor number two? The Xbox One’s just as capable a Blu-ray system. Is this telling us something about a Microsoft messaging failure? Or wait—isn’t packaged media all but dead? Whether people are really watching scads of Blu-rays on their PS4s or this is just the psychological “want the option” factor is unclear.

“Game Library” is another head-scratcher. The Xbox One’s library is just as big and just as critically acclaimed as the PlayStation 4’s, while neither system offers native backward compatibility. Is this indication of a preference for the kinds of exclusives Sony’s system offers? And looking across the way at Nintendo, what’s the difference between “Game Library” (PS4) and “Exclusive Games/Content” (Wii U)?

I’m also a little confused about “Brand,” which tops the Xbox One’s factor column. Sony’s PlayStation-as-brand is, judging by platform sales across all systems, far better known than Microsoft’s Xbox—unless it’s more a Microsoft versus Sony (than PlayStation versus Xbox) thing.

And what does “Innovative Features” refer to? Xbox One Kinect, a peripheral the company yanked from the system before its first anniversary? SmartGlass integration? The bifurcated operating system (and Metro-styled interface)? Or the list of features the company wound up retracting in the wake of controversy over player privacy and digital rights management?

What this more likely confirms is that perception remains nine-tenths ownership.

TIME Video Games

The Order 1886 Review: Sony’s Exclusive Blockbuster

Ready at Dawn

Ready at Dawn's latest revisits the "interactive movie" concept with mostly positive results

“When you play a game, one moment you’re just controlling it and then suddenly you feel you’re in its world,” said Nintendo luminary Shigeru Miyamoto in a recent interview, adding that playing a game is thus “something you cannot experience through film or literature.”

What to make of developer Ready at Dawn’s gloomy, Victorian, supernatural pastiche The Order: 1886 then, a game that frequently takes player control away?

On the one hand, The Order: 1886 is an interactive drama (or what we might have called an “interactive movie” back when Under a Killing Moon and Phantasmagoria were in vogue) that spends Hideo Kojima quantities of time in the driver’s seat. It’s a kind of participatory film with occasional bursts of third-person action, in other words. But are games only games when we’re manipulating the action? Is player agency the be-all, end-all? Or is there something potentially fascinating when simply watching what happens is a large part—or most—of the experience?

All I can tell you is that I generally enjoyed The Order: 1886‘s hybrid approach to whatever it is we want to call what we’re doing these days when we play/receive/experience/watch a game. In fact the more I delved into Ready at Dawn’s Arthurian legend retelling, the more I appreciated the way the studio seemed to know just the right moments to step forward and tell its story, then back away to let you maneuver through its James Bond-meets-Nikola Tesla ballistic scenarios for yourself.

Ready at Dawn

If there’s one thing The Order: 1886 does very well, it’s providing that sense of continuously inhabiting a detailed world. Call it a PlayStation 4 tech demo if you like, it’s still an achievement: the render complexity of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within finally realized in realtime, any lingering benefits of pre-rendered cutscenes extinguished in one gorgeously shaded and illuminated swoop.

Sometimes that leads to overindulgence. You can pick up items and glean vague plot-related details, for instance, but they’re window dressing (and at best worth a few PlayStation 4 trophies). The Order: 1886 isn’t an adventure game where you sleuth for clues to solve puzzles, but hefting objects for admiration’s sake alone feels like a missed opportunity. I spent a fair lot of time perusing doohickeys, papers and photographs, finding nothing gameplay-related, and wondering if I’d missed the point (or joke).

But there’s undeniably something more intimate about this sort of carefully controlled, story-emphatic, single-player approach that’s absent from freeform games: the shifting abilities (sometimes you can walk, run, climb, shoot, sometimes one at a time, sometimes all together) that ironically increased my involvement with my surroundings, and the way the studio uses the game’s slower pace to unpack the characters and plot.

Ready at Dawn

Not that Ready at Dawn’s design choices are unimpeachable. The story, however well told, feels a bit too Underworld in an era of hackneyed monster mashups. The quicktime events are as derivative and lifeless as quicktime events have ever been, and the only minor innovation–having to swing the camera around to unmask which button to push–feels like a pointless tack on.

That goes double for all the repetitive input. Game studios still haven’t figured out that asking players to jam on a button to make whatever mechanism work (like moving an elevator) is a cliched and frankly impoverished substitute for actual interactivity. If, for instance, you’re going to make sending Morse Code integral to the game, great, but if you’re just asking me to tap out a few letters on a control surface once and for novelty’s sake, then as Hume said, to the flames.

I’m also a little conflicted about the game’s gunplay. A few of the weapons are halfway interesting (in particular a monstrous thing that lets you fire combustible powder, then ignite it with a followup flare). The enemies are more than competent, and the difficulty spikes satisfyingly brutal. But there’s something a little formulaic about the way enemies appear during these sequences—like pop-ups in a carnival game, the deadlier heavies arriving only after you’ve passed a threshold, making battles less about learning to react shrewdly than pattern recognition.

Ready at Dawn

But then I also love the way low cover obscures your view during shootouts, encouraging you to seek taller cover (you can see more, standing and shooting around corners), or to find cover that’s a mix of both so you can alternate fluidly. I love that snipers won’t shoot until you pop up, that if you’re not using cover judiciously bullets can hit and knock you into the open, that shotgunners flank at close range and that you can dodge grenades.

A word about the ending, which didn’t work for me. As spoiler-free as possible, I can say it comes down to a choice, or the lack of one, and at the only point I wanted the freedom to choose. I get that Ready at Dawn needs to tell its story, that as far as its concerned the choice made is the only one possible, but boy oh boy that ending…it’s the one place where auteurism and agency feel most like matter touching antimatter, and not in an artsy or revelatory way.

Some players are going to buck Ready at Dawn’s approach no matter what I say, and by all means steer clear if “interactive drama” isn’t your thing, but I submit that’s the wrong place to raise bulwarks. The Order: 1886 has flaws enough without conflating personal taste and flawed presumptions about game design—though it’s also a promise, assuming Ready at Dawn gets the go-ahead to make a sequel, of what this sort of author-player partnership could yield, better tempered, down the road.

3.5 out of 5

Review using the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

Read next: This Museum Is Building a Video Game Hall of Fame

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TIME Gadgets

Sony’s Google Glass Killer Now Available for Preorder

New device boasts augmented reality feature

Sony is seizing on the withdrawal of Google Glass from the consumer market with a pair of smart glasses all its own.

The Japanese firm announced Tuesday that a developer version of its SmartEyeglass will go on sale March 10 for $840 and is now available for pre-order in select countries.

SmartEyeglass, which Sony showed off at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, allows people to snap pictures, follow GPS directions and view text messages. The device can also create an augmented-reality overlay over the real world, so that users can see interesting factoids as they look over a tourist destination, for example, or receive assembly instructions as they’re building a product. Users have to pair the glasses with their smartphones to achieve full functionality.

At $840, Sony’s product is considerably cheaper than the $1,500 Google was sharing for the beta version of Glass. The new SmartEyeglass will be available initially in Japan, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. A commercial release for the smart glasses is slated for 2016.

TIME Companies

These Are America’s Most Disliked Companies

These companies, unfortunately, managed to antagonize more than just one group and have become widely disliked

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

To be truly hated, a company must alienate a large number of people. It may irritate consumers with bad customer service, upset employees by paying low wages, and disappoint Wall Street with underwhelming returns. For a small number of companies, such failures are intertwined. These companies managed to antagonize more than just one group and have become widely disliked.

The most hated companies have millions of customers. With such a large customer base, it is critical to keep employees happy in order to promote high-quality customer service. Poor job satisfaction among employees can lead to unsatisfied customers. McDonald’s and Walmart have risked alienating workers, and therefore also customers, by not adequately addressing protests against their employees’ low wages. While pay may be low enough to put some workers below the poverty line, executives at these companies often make millions. The total compensation of McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson, for example, was nearly $9.5 million in 2013 and nearly $13.8 million in 2012.

Layoffs, or even the prospect of layoffs, can also contribute to low employee morale. Sprint announced it would cut 2,000 jobs late last year. Workers at Comcast can reasonably expect layoffs should its planned merger with Time Warner Cable receives government approval.

Many of the most hated companies angered the public because of quality issues with their products.. Comcast has long been one of the worst companies in America in terms of customer service and satisfaction. Another example is the General Motors recall scandal. GM announced a recall in early 2014 due to faulty ignition switches in a number of its cars, now believed to have cost 42 people their lives. The company’s problems were compounded by the realization that it had known about the defect for over a decade.

Nothing harms the long-term reputation of a company in the eyes of investors more than a steep drop in its share price. In the past 12 months, shares of Sprint have fallen by more than 50%, as hopes for a tie-up with rival T-Mobile were dashed while the company had little success in retaining customers.

It is worth noting that some of the companies on the list may have performed very poorly by some measures but relatively well by others. A few of the most hated companies have had good stock performances. Others have relatively satisfied customers. All of these factors were taken into account in compiling the final list.

Several companies from last year list have improved their public perceptions enough to be removed from this year’s list. For example, J.C. Penney is in the midst of a modest turnaround. Abercrombie & Fitch’s controversial long-time CEO Michael Jeffries resigned last December. However, the retailer still has problems attracting teenage customers.

To identify the most hated companies in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a variety of metrics on customer service, employee satisfaction, and share price performance. We considered consumer surveys from a number of sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and Zogby Analytics. We also included employee satisfaction based on worker opinion scores recorded by Glassdoor.com. Finally, we reviewed management decisions and company policies that hurt a company’s public perception.

These are America’s most hated companies.

1. General Motors Company

General Motors spent much of 2014 on the defensive, as it had to deal with a number of serious recalls. In the most serious incident, the company disclosed an ignition switch defect that could cause a vehicle’s engine to stall and its airbags to fail while it was in motion. The defect triggered the recall of 2.6 million cars and has been linked to 42 deaths. The company reported it had recalled a total of 34 million cars for a number of defects and incurred more than $2.7 billion in recall-related costs in the first nine months of 2014.

The public fallout from this recall was enormous. GM set aside $400 million to cover damage claims for victims of the faulty ignition switches, while the U.S. Department of Transportation fined the company $35 million — the most it legally could. Even worse, GM employees had known about the defect as early as 2001. Reuters uncovered last April that the company avoided fixing the problem in 2005, despite the fact that replacement switches would have cost just 90 cents each. During the fallout, CEO Mary Barra told Congress, “I never want anyone associated with GM to forget what happened. I want this terrible experience permanently etched in our collective memories. This isn’t just another business challenge.”

2. Sony Corp

Sony had perhaps the most difficult holiday season of any company. News broke in November that the company’s film division, Sony Pictures Entertainment, had been hacked in response to one of its upcoming films, “The Interview.” The hackers, reportedly from North Korea, were offended by the movie’s portrayal of North Korea and its dictator Kim Jong-un. Among other information, the hackers leaked unreleased Sony movies, executive salary data, and personal email correspondence between major Hollywood figures. A number of these emails revealed petty disputes and derogatory comments about race from top figures at the company.

After being hacked — and after a number of major theaters said they would not show the movie — Sony initially decided not to release the film. However, it later reversed course, prodded by criticism from, among others, President Barack Obama. In addition to the debacle surrounding “The Interview,” Sony’s PlayStation Network was also hacked during the holiday season.

Sony’s problems have not been limited to hacking attacks. Sony has regularly reported annual losses for years, and restructuring announcements have become an almost annual event. So far, however, years of expensive restructuring initiatives have been unfruitful. The company’s smartphone division has also taken a hit, with Sony’s smartphones losing market share while failing to sell profitably. Sony shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange have declined more than 30% in the past five years, even as American and Japanese stocks have rallied significantly, with the S&P 500 up approximately 80% in that time.

3. DISH Network Corp

More than 20% of respondents on the Zogby Analytics survey rated DISH Network poorly, one of the highest percentages of any company reviewed. Also, DISH Network has fared worse than most companies on the ACSI in recent years, albeit in an industry that largely received extremely low ratings.

In the wake of heated and ongoing contract negotiations between DISH Network and Fox, DISH customers can no longer watch Fox News or business channels. The blackout has likely had a negative impact on DISH’s customer satisfaction, at least among Fox News viewers who subscribe to DISH. This is hardly the first carriage dispute for DISH in recent years. Other such disputes resulted in long blackouts of AMC Networks and Turner Networks, as well as a brief outage of CBS-owned channels.

Customers are not the company’s only critics. Past and present DISH employees gave the company an average score of just 2.7 out of 5 on Glassdoor.com, with employees frequently disapproving of upper management.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME movies

There Are So Many Reasons Why Donald Glover Should Be the Next Spider-Man

Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino at he 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
Lester Cohen—WireImage Could this be the face of the next Peter Parker?

The dream has lived only as a hashtag for long enough

On Monday night, Marvel announced that it would bring “the amazing world of Spider-Man” into its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The particulars of the deal between Marvel and Sony Pictures — which owns the rights to Spider-Man — are a little complicated, but the upshot is this: Spider-Man will be an Avenger while also continuing to appear in standalone films. Also of note: Andrew Garfield is not expected to reprise the role.

The deal makes sense for all sorts of reasons, most notably because it returns a huge, blockbuster character to Marvel, and also because it will provide a jolt of life to a character that has grown stale over the last few years. It’s hard to blame Garfield for the stagnancy of the franchise, but he and the writers of the last two Spider-Man films struggled to differentiate the Spidey of the reboot from Tobey Maguire’s wildly successful version from the early 2000s. It’s an issue Sony and the producers might have avoided had they thought a little more outside the box when casting their new lead prior to 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Now, Marvel and Sony have a chance to avoid making that same mistake twice. All they have to do is make the decision that Sony should have made the first time around.

In some ways, Donald Glover is almost too obvious a choice to play Peter Parker. Glover’s public persona of the sorta-nerdy-sorta-shy-often-misunderstood-and-under-appreciated-but-totally-brilliant guy is just about as Parker-esque as it gets in the acting world. It probably helps that Glover isn’t really an actor per se, but an artist, in the most 21st-century sense of the word — someone whose goal is to make cool, thoughtful art, regardless of the medium. It could be acting, it could be rapping, it could be writing, it could be graphic design; sometimes it’s a combination of all those things. Glover has never aspired to be just one thing — he wants to be as many things as he can be.

That’s a quintessentially millennial impulse. Members of this generation aren’t picking one profession and staying there for life, or specializing in one subject. And in different ways than their predecessors, millennials are addressing social issues: bullying, racism, sexism, homophobia and a host of others. The world doesn’t need another white male superhero to send the message that nothing has changed; Sony tried that once and wasn’t rewarded for it. The world has changed — is changing — and our superheroes should change with it.

The #DonaldForSpiderman movement took off after Glover — in a long-since deleted tweet — suggested he’d like the opportunity to audition for the role in Marc Webb’s 2012 reboot. At the time, Glover was wrapping up his first season as Troy Barnes on NBC’s Community. Though the Community gig was his first major acting role, Glover’s notoriety far outpaced his mainstream resume. The now-31-year-old Georgia native was big on the Internet, just as being big on the Internet started becoming an actual thing. His Derrick Comedy sketch group had released a handful of shorts, along with the feature length Mystery Team in 2009. Glover also had a burgeoning rap career under the pseudonym Childish Gambino, with a pair of mixtapes to his name. Pair all that together with his Writers Guild awards for 30 Rock (he was hired straight out of NYU), and it was obvious that Glover was headed for bigger and better things, sooner rather than later.

Still, Glover probably would have been the first to admit that he wasn’t the safest bet for a multi-billion dollar franchise at that point of his career. What he understood less were the objections to his candidacy because of his race:

The objections were ridiculous then, but they’d seem even more out of place now. The new Captain America is black; the new Thor is a woman. Even though neither of those changes have crossed over to the big screen yet, the changes in the comics mean it’s all but inevitable that there will be corresponding ones in the MCU somewhere down the road. The world is ready for a black Spider-Man on the big screen.

The bigger question might be whether Glover is still willing to take on the role. He’s now a Grammy-nominated rapper with a few more seasons of Community under his belt (he left the show in early 2014), as well as various film credits. Last December, FX ordered a pilot for Glover’s Atlanta-based comedy series that he’ll star in, write and executive produce. If he wasn’t established enough before, he’s certainly much closer now — and debuting in a Marvel film would give audiences a chance to familiarize themselves with their new Peter Parker a bit before he stars in a standalone Spider-Man film in 2017. Plus, in the standup clip above, he says frankly, “Who doesn’t want to be Spider-Man? That would be cool.”

On the other hand, Glover has demonstrated an aversion to being tied down throughout his career. He left his writing gig at 30 Rock before the end of the show’s run to star in Community. Then, he left Community before the end of its run, primarily to focus more on his rap career. He also dropped off the radar for nearly a year back in 2012, deleted his popular blog and Twitter account (now somewhat resurrected) and has dramatically scaled back his once-prominent social media presence. He’s an entertainer with a lot of interests beyond acting, and becoming Spider-Man would require that those other interests take a backseat.

It’s a stretch to say that the power of Glover’s undeniable Internet popularity gives him the responsibility to pursue the Spider-Man role, but Marvel and Sony — not to mention audiences — would be lucky to have him. At this point, the “Donald for Spider-Man” campaign might be more necessary to convince Childish Gambino himself rather than producers. Fans would be lucky to have it prove more successful than the last one.

Read next: This 1 Chart Shows Why Sony Spun a Spider-Man Deal

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TIME movies

Spider-Man Joining the Marvel Universe Makes Perfect Sense for Sony and Marvel

MCDAMSP EC081
Columbia Pictures Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spidey's going to be an Avenger. It's perfect for a character who had grown fatigued

With the announcement that the Spider-Man franchise is to be part of the so-called Marvel cinematic universe, the comic-book company/studio has what they’d heretofore had to make themselves: A character with proven box-office power.

Marvel Studios’ flagship characters have spun box-office gold, in the years since Iron Man kicked off the company’s movie series in 2008, largely by force of will. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America certainly have their partisans, but not the name recognition of Spider-Man, Superman, or Batman. The latter two of those stars are outside of Marvel’s reach — they’re the property of rival company DC, which has announced Batman v Superman for 2016 — but Spider-Man, whose on-the-page exploits have long been in Marvel Comics, is clearly a prize Marvel Studios wanted to win. Consider that, in announcing the introduction of Spider-Man to their film series, Marvel has had to rejigger much of their slate of forthcoming movies, postponing various planned release dates of projects including the third Thor film and the first Marvel film with a female lead, Captain Marvel.

Why was Spider-Man so important? Those who view comic-book movies primarily as works of art will note that the character is, in comics, part of the group known as “the Avengers,” and his absence from The Avengers movies is a divergence from the text. But, more than that, Spider-Man is a character with a proven box-office record. Marvel’s track record of unblemished success so far is remarkable, but they’re moving farther and farther away from recognizable characters; at some point some air must come out of the balloon. Introducing, at this advanced stage in the studio’s history, a character who’s both new enough that several films lie in his future and recognizable enough to fuel legitimate excitement is a great move. Marvel is introducing Spider-Man before even the possibility of fatigue could set in.

Of course, it’s a move that takes Spider-Man away from being the sole property of another studio: Sony holds the rights to Spider-Man, and had considered him, until recently, a huge part of that studio’s future. A solo Spider-Man film will come out under Sony’s auspices after the webslinger appears in Marvel films. An extended universe built around Spider-Man, which was meant to kick off with a now-delayed film about the alliance of villains Spidey fights. That film, The Sinister Six, is now delayed indefinitely. Sony allowing Marvel to use their character is a concession to the comic book studio’s power in the marketplace: Both because they got there first and because they’re more artful in spinning the fact that none of their movies are leading towards a definitive resolution, the studio has cracked the code of comic-based movies in a way Sony hadn’t.

The Spider-Man franchise, which rode high in the early 2000s with Tobey Maguire in the lead, faltered with Andrew Garfield in the lead. It was no fault of Garfield’s: The most recent Amazing Spider-Man installment, which came out last year, underperformed at the box office thanks in part to perceived fatigue with the character. The film was fairly transparently being used to situate villains for a spinoff film. There’s no such thing, these days, as an action film that stands on its own without the possibility of a sequel, but a new Spider-Man franchise so soon after the last one, and one that was so clunkingly setting the table for yet more sequels, felt more like a transaction than a cinematic experience.

So now Spider-Man will get to exist in a new milieu, one that will likely generate excitement around a familiar character without us having to watch him go to high school again. And Sony won’t have to play catch-up to Marvel: If there’s one thing The Avengers, with its set of heroes protected by the Hulk, has proven, it’s that it’s easier to win when you’re on the side of the two-ton behemoth.

TIME Media

This 1 Chart Shows Why Sony Spun a Spider-Man Deal

Spider-Man
Columbia Pictures Spider-Man

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, now a part, of the Marvel plan

Spider-Man is slinging into the Marvel movie universe, Sony and Marvel announced late Monday night.

That’s a big deal: Spidey is one of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes, but the film rights over the webslinger wound up in Sony’s hands in 1999 after years of protracted legal battles. That meant Marvel couldn’t include Spider-Man in its grand plan to bring its cadre of superheroes into the same cinematic universe, an effort that began with 2008’s Iron Man and will continue in this year’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While exact details remain slim, the new deal should mean that Marvel fans will get to see Spider-Man fighting baddies right alongside Captain America and Thor, just like in the comics. Marvel and Sony will co-produce upcoming individual Spider-Man films, but Sony will maintain ultimate creative rights over them.

Rumors that Sony and the Disney-owned Marvel were working on a deal like this have floated around the Internet before, only to be squashed like The Hulk smashing tanks. What changed?

First, Marvel’s upcoming films are said to be based heavily on Civil War, a comic book crossover series that heavily featured Spider-Man. Doing Civil War in theaters without Spidey would have required some pretty heavy rewriting.

But the ball here was very much in Sony’s court, not Marvel’s. And looking at the performance of Sony’s recent Spider-Man films, it’s easy to see why it was willing to make a deal:

Sony’s Spider-Man films started off as commercial blockbusters, but they’ve each been pulling in less cash at the box office ever since 2002’s Spider-Man. The series’ most recent film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was particularly lackluster, making a bit over $202 million and getting generally poor reviews. Meanwhile, Marvel’s The Avengers, its first film to really include the whole swath of its superhero spread, made upwards of $623 million. Sony, then, is clearly hoping that by including Spidey in Marvel’s next big Avengers-style crossover event after Ultron, it’ll boost ticket sales for the Spider-Man follow-ups, too.

The only question now is: Who will be our third Spider-Man?

TIME Video Games

Is It Really Time to Abandon Sony’s PlayStation Network?

Sony, Microsoft Sony's PlayStation 4 (upper-left) and Microsoft's Xbox One (lower-right).

Is Sony's PlayStation Network as terrible as some seem to think?

It’s tempting to view online services as perennial. You probably paid money for the privilege of using them, whatever the fine print you didn’t read actually says about availability, and you expect the vast province of interlinked devices we call the Internet to operate with the continuity of running water or electricity (never mind the number of power outages I’ve endured living in southeast Michigan).

When things go south, you get mad, the friends you wanted to play with are nonplussed, grumpy cat gets even grumpier–who isn’t fuming?

Thus when something like Sony’s PlayStation Network goes kaplooey, as it did at some point on Sunday, is it any surprise we’re seeing angry, hyperbolic, message-board-like news headlines? Writers jotting off zingers like “Why trust Sony ever again?”

Why indeed. But before we aim our collective invective at Sony or its online gaming peers, it’s helpful to review the pathology. Have Sony’s PSN outages crossed the Rubicon? Is it really time to cancel your online subscription? Maybe take your business across the aisle?

When people think of the PlayStation Network as unreliable, they’re really thinking about April 2011, a monumental mess wherein PSN collapsed and stayed down for nearly a month (followed by further hacks of other Sony services and embarrassing data leaks). Hackers attempted to snatch sensitive personal data, succeeding in pilfering vast troves of essentially innocuous names and addresses. The outage length–a record 23 days–was because Sony had to rethink its entire online security apparatus.

In late August 2014, the PlayStation Network as well as Sony Online Entertainment were briefly disrupted by a denial of service attack (the group responsible reportedly tweeted a bomb threat at SOE President John Smedley as he was flying to San Diego–the plane was consequently diverted to Phoenix). Microsoft’s Xbox Live was also disrupted during this period.

In early December 2014, Sony’s PlayStation Network as well as Sony Online Entertainment were once again briefly disrupted by a denial of service attack. Microsoft’s Xbox Live was also disrupted during this period.

In late December 2014, Sony’s PlayStation Network was unavailable for several days (including Christmas), apparently the victim of a malicious traffic-related disruption. Microsoft’s Xbox Live was similarly impacted.

In early February 2015, Sony’s PlayStation Network was briefly disrupted by another denial of service attack. (Microsoft’s Xbox Live went down briefly in late January–it’s still not clear why.)

Setting aside planned maintenance outages, Sony’s PlayStation Network has thus been unavailable as a result of nefarious activity less than a dozen times. Furthermore, Microsoft’s Xbox Live, while spared the colossal (and importantly, lingering) public shaming Sony endured back in 2011, has been down nearly as often. Both companies have attempted, in various ways, to compensate users for these outages.

Cognitive distortion can make molehills into mountains. The question, given the volatility of a global network susceptible to sudden malicious traffic missiles, is whether companies like Sony and Microsoft are over-promising availability, or whether consumers–obliged, in my view, to see more shrewdly through corporate hyperbole–need to take a dimmer view of what the Internet in 2015 can deliver. Denial of service attacks in 2015 remain a problem to which no company or service is immune.

I’m not apologizing for incompetence (where indeed incompetence can be proven), I’m just suggesting we’ve been sold a bill of goods about online dependability (in our minds, anyway–the fine print says otherwise) that can’t live entirely up to its claims. Not in 2015, anyway.

Is 98 or 99% availability the end of the world? I’m not so sure, though I’d definitely like to see companies like Sony and Microsoft level with us rolling forward, perhaps implementing an if-this-then-that remuneration clause, e.g. this much outage time equals that much compensatory service. At least you’d know the parameters going in.

TIME Music

Sony and Spotify Unveil New Music Service for PlayStation

JAPAN-SONY-GAMES
Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images The PlayStation 4 20th anniversary edition is displayed at Sony's showroom in Tokyo on Dec. 4, 2014

But Sony's Music Unlimited will shut down

Spotify and Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) are launching this spring a premium music service called PlayStation Music, offering over 30 million songs as background music to PlayStation games.

The service will initially only be accessible on Sony game consoles and Xperia devices worldwide, reaching 64 million players logged into the PlayStation Network (PSN).

“This partnership represents the best in music and the best in gaming coming together,” Sony president Andrew House said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to make Spotify the foundation of our strategy with PlayStation Music.”

PlayStation Music will replace Sony’s Music Unlimited service, which will close in 19 countries March 2015. However, Music Unlimited subscribers will benefit from a month of free access to PlayStation Music until March 29, 2015. And Sony, which posted lackluster sales targets recently, is pushing for better integration into PlayStation brands by converting Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited into PS Music and PS Video.

“As a gamer and PlayStation 4 user myself, I’m super excited to be able to soundtrack my FIFA 15 Arsenal matches later this spring,” said Spotify founder Daniel Ek.

TIME movies

Sony’s The Interview Earned More Than $40 Million in On-Demand

A movie poster for "The Interview" is displayed outside the Megaplex Theatres - Stadium 6 on Dec. 25, 2014 in Mesquite, Nev.
Ethan Miller—Getty Images A movie poster for "The Interview" is displayed outside the Megaplex Theatres - Stadium 6 on Dec. 25, 2014 in Mesquite, Nev.

CEO Michael Lynton called the film’s streaming sales tally ‘a significant milestone’

Less than a month after its Christmas Eve release, Sony’s controversial comedy The Interview has topped $40 million in online and on-demand sales.

The film, which drew the ire of North Korea and became the subject of threats from terrorist hackers, was rented or purchased by at-home viewers more than 5.8 million times between Dec. 24 and Jan. 18, Sony Pictures Entertainment said on Tuesday. “We always said that we would get the movie to the greatest audience possible,” Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said in a statement. “Achieving over $40 million in digital sales is a significant milestone.”

The film’s on-demand success is likely a huge relief for the studio, which cancelled the planned release of The Interview in mid-December after movie theater chains balked at showing the film over violent threats allegedly made by the very group of hackers that breached Sony Pictures’ computer system in November. However, Sony is still far from recouping all of its potential losses for a film that cost $44 million to make and the studio is thought to have spent at least an additional $30 million to market the movie and stars Seth Rogen and James Franco.

So far, The Interview has pulled in roughly $6 million from a very limited theatrical release and it is unclear how much of the $40 million in streaming sales Sony Pictures will actually be able to pocket. The studio’s cut of those proceeds will depend on the nature of its agreements with its video-on-demand (VOD) distributors, including Google’s YouTube and Google Play platforms, as well as Apple’s iTunes and Amazon Instant Video. The film was also made available on Sony’s Playstation Network and through Microsoft’s Xbox, as well as via on-demand services offered to Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, Dish Network and DirecTV customers, among others. Each of those partners will demand a share of sales.

The film’s streaming performance is being watched closely as the movie industry tries to determine the value in simultaneously releasing films in theaters and online over the industry’s standard process: a theatrical release typically followed months later by various VOD offerings. Last week, Patrick Corcoran — vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) — predicted Sony could lose more than $30 million on The Interview. Corcoran also threw cold water on the idea that movie could be a game-changer for the movie industry.

“The only game changed here was just how much money Sony left on the table,” Corcoran said in NATO publication Box Office Magazine.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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