As of this writing, the Playstation Network has been down for five days and counting. This has no doubt been a painfully arduous five days for the 70 million games why rely on the PSN to satisfy their online gaming needs, while at the same time being a glorious week for Xbox Live fanboys who have been gloating up a storm on the internet. “You get what you pay for” and “XBL for the win!” are common barbs that effectively kicks PSN users while they are down, and gloating about playing the newly released Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 on Xbox Live kicks dirt in their faces. I don’t agree with this practice at all, being the owner of both platforms and someone who uses both extensively, but this is the internet and it would be foolish not to expect it to some degree.
Sony has been vague at best when it comes to communicating progress and a possible ETA for the system to be back up, something that hints at serious problems and possibly a lengthy downtime. The original reason was cited as “maintenance” while the more official explanation was limited to “external intrusion”, suggesting that a hacker (or hackers) breached the network and the system was taken offline to minimize the risk of people’s personal information being compromised. That’s understandable, however it has not stopped gamers all over the world from lamenting about the loss of their beloved online service. It is unpleasant, inconvenient and admittedly coming at the worst time, with the aforementioned Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 being popular online titles, and shooters like Socom 4, Bad Company 2 and Black Ops still being highly active titles on the network. However, it’s important to understand that system outages do occur and they are sometimes unavoidable, as was evidenced by Xbox Live being down for a whopping 10 days back in 2007 and the PSN experiencing periodic maintenances outages that can last up to 48 hours. It’s a reality of the technical age we live in.
One advantage for me personally is that I tend to prefer single-player, story-driven games that rely minimally on multiplayer options. Getting friends together to play games is often difficult given everyone’s busy schedule, mine included, and playing online with strangers can be hair-pullingly annoying experience at the best of times. As such, I favour delving into a game on my own time and playing through it at my own pace, which is why platformers and role-playing games tend to be my genres of choice. I have nothing against multiplayer per se, but I often feel that game developers overlook single-player entirely or tack on a solo campaign to what is effectively an online-oriented title. When system outages occur or support for said title drops, fans of that particular game are out of luck. This is why I tend to champion games like Call of Duty: Black Ops, Medal of Honor, Socom 4 and Homefront significantly less than games like Bioshock, Borderlands, Uncharted and God of War. Some of those games do offer online options, but the single player experience doesn’t suffer in these titles as they do in the high profile shooters that are flooding the market. At the risk of sounding smug, this is why the PSN outage, while annoying, doesn’t impact me as much as it does others. Most of my gaming is done offline and I am willing to wait until the system is back up before delving back into multiplayer.
So for those who are seriously put out by the PSN outage and are going through gaming withdrawl, consider delving into some of the quality single-player titles that the Playstation 3 has to offer. Online deathmatches and spraying bullets into your circle of friends for hours on end is fun, but it’s not all that gaming has to offer. Get immersed in a good story-based game and enjoy it at your leisure, instead of following the “I only play online” mentality that many gamers today seem to have. The service will come back online eventually and you can get back to it, but take this as an opportunity to have some fun on your own.