Today’s Big Story: Sony confirms user data breach

Sony Computer Entertainment confirmed today that the hacker (or hackers) who broke into PlayStation’s Network and Qriosity systems accessed users’ personal information.

PlayStation 3 owners have not been able to access PSN or Qriosity services for about one week. A GamePro
editorial accuses Sony of an “astounding breach of trust” for the delay
in acknowledging the compromise of sensitive information.

The following is from Sony’s  letter to customers  to acknowledging the data breach:

“Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we
believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following
information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip),
country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password
and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your
profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city,
state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security
answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for
your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have
been obtained.”

“While there is no evidence at this time that credit card
data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided
your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of
an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number
(excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained,” the letter continued.

Sony shut down PSN and its Qriocity video and music streaming service on April 20. The data breach happened sometime between April 17 and April 19, Sony reported.

Additional coverage:

Sony reveals Next Generation Portable

Sony Computer Entertainment officially unveiled its Next Generation Portable (NGP) gaming system Thursday after weeks of speculation and leaks.

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The NGP news follows Nintendo’s recent announcement that its next portable, the 3DS will go on sale March 27 at the suggested retail price of $249.99.

The NGP’s price and exact release date went undisclosed when Sony announced the NGP in Tokyo. Here’s what the PlayStation makers did say, in addition to the system coming out near the end of this year:

  • Multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display
  • Multi-touch pad on the rear of the device
  • Dual analog sticks
  • Two cameras (front and rear)
  • Software titles on small, dedicated flash memory-based cards
  • Three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass
  • Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity
  • PlayStation Network access, including “”LiveArea”, “Near” and “Activity” log features Trophy Support
  • NGP will be able to play PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video and comics from the PlayStation Store.

Players can also expect NGP releases in the Call of Duty, Uncharted, Hot Shots Golf, Resistance, Little Big Planet and other series.

Thus far, 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting one for portable gaming. The Associated Press points out that Nintendo and Sony are not only competing with each other, but smartphone makers like Apple for players’ attention and money.

The popularity of
smart phones including the iPhone is a potential threat to game machine
makers as more people play games, watch video, send e-mail and chat on
cell phones. People are also using other portable devices such as
Apple’s iPod and iPad to play games.


Sony’s
new machine, known for now by its code-name NGP, comes packed with
motion sensor and GPS location technology so that gamers can tilt and
sway the machine to play golf games, kill monsters and experience other
“virtual realities,” said Kazuo Hirai, who heads Sony Corp.’s gaming
section

Such features seem to be designed with the so-called “casual gamer” in mind, and this writer would be inclined to say the NGP buyer and person who Angry Birds on his or her iPhone may not be in the same target markets.

But this writer is not a Sony executive, and those who are seem to be intent on doubling down their bet in the gadget market. The much-hyped Sony Ericcson Xperia Play, AKA the PlayStation phone, is also said to be on the way to the marketplace and Engadget has peek at a prototype. Check it out.



Review: God of War 3

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God of War 3 is a revenge tale, and not the kind with the happy ending that leaves you feeling fuzzy about everything that happened. This is dirty, nasty payback, fueled by the kind of single-minded rage that can take even the noblest of heroes to a dark place.

Sony Computer Entertainment’s latest (and presumably last) installment of its famed franchise is also its most ambitious, exploring the powers of the PS3 as much as the mental and physical odyssey of its hero, Kratos.

It accomplishes both tasks in impressive fashion, giving players an grand action-fest with bloody fun, guilty pleasures and even some brains — as in smarts, not what ends up smeared on the wall.

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Review: Heavy Rain

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Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain can leave you feeling drained and beaten. As the name implies, it aims to soak you in sheets of emotional precipitation, doing so not with hurricane force, but with unrelenting, constant pressure.

Stories are the lifeblood of almost any game that doesn’t involve a ball. Told well, they can keep the player sucked in for hours, jostling everything from their psyche to their moral compass. A poorly done story turns the experience into a chore, also shining the spotlight on the game’s other problems.

Thankfully, Heavy Rain leans more toward the former, while also doing as much as it can to forward Quantic Dream’s efforts to advance a gameplay style past the “acquired taste” phase of acceptance.

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Slurpee of the gods!

When Monday comes, your local 7-Eleven should be offering you the rage of the gods in the form of frozen, liquid goodness.

At least that’s the plan, as Sony Computer Entertainment of America announced a deal with 7-Eleven and Mountain Dew to start featuring Kratos Fury, a Slurpee drink designed to help promote the PS3′s upcoming blockbuster, God of War III. Apparently, deity-killing anger is best captured in the flavor combo of blackberry and lime, and there’s also going to special cups bearing the image of gaming’s favorite Spartan. Every time you buy a Slurpee, you’ll get redeemable codes and points for stuff like a downloadable behind-the-scenes video or a free hoodie.

If you want more info, you can go here.

Review: Uncharted 2 – Among Thieves

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You get no scene-setting narrative in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Instead, you get dangled off the end of a derailed train car, which happens to be hanging off the edge of a mountain cliff. You’re in Nepal when this happens, by the way.

It’s the perfect tone-setter for Naughty Dog’s latest body of work. It’s bombastic, adventurous fun in the vein of prime Indiana Jones, juggling action, humor and storytelling in a way that makes you remember how cool treasure-hunting can be.
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