Millions of Sony PlayStation fans were greeted with error codes that prevented them from accessing online features. So what just happened?
It turns out, the Sony PlayStation Network temporarily went offline, though the servers are now back up, reports GameRadar. PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 users got the error code WS-373989-0 whenever they tried cross-platform online play for over an hour.
Problems started surfacing around 5 PM EDT, when users began complaining about connectivity problems on social media, reports GFinityEsports. A big majority of the reports involved the said WS-373989-0 error code, which players can do nothing about as the code meant it was an issue directly on Sony's end.
During the outage, gamers were unable to access pages such as account management, PlayStation Now, gaming and social, PlayStation Store, PlayStation Direct, and even PlayStation Video. This also made launching games and apps a lot more difficult than they're supposed to, which meant that many PS4 and PS5 gamers (actually even those on the handheld PS Vita) were unable to play.
And it seemed like the problem was global, too, as the official Twitter account of Ask PlayStation reported it. Various users all around Europe also claimed to have the same problems.
What Just Happened, Exactly?
Sony managed to restore online connectivity at around 6:55 PM ET, according to the Verge. So by now, all connectivity issues have been resolved, and online services are back up and running. But what exactly caused this in the first place?
In truth, there's no word about what brought down the Sony PlayStation Network. Sony has so far declined to comment on the situation, other than providing updates on the status of the fix while the network was down. It's likely that this was caused by a hardware issue, which is not impossible even for a multi-billion-dollar company that maintains state-of-the-art, cutting-edge server infrastructures.
But something like this has already happened before, though it wasn't a hardware issue. It was a software one. And long-time Sony PlayStation fans know it all too well: the so-called PSN Hack of 2011.
Between April 17th and 19th, so-called "unauthorized persons" managed to get a hold of the personal data of around 77 million PSN users. This resulted in an outage that lasted an entire week (much longer than the current one), and was considered one of the largest security breaches in history, as reported by The Guardian.
The cyber attack also resulted in Sony having to pay settlements to eligible gamers amounting to USD $15 million. Aside from monetary benefits, PSN users were also given free games, themes, and a 3-month PlayStation Plus subscription (for those who aren't already subscribers.)
Is Something Like This Bound To Happen Again?
This Sony PlayStation Network outage is just one of many that's plagued PS fans over the years. But it's been a big pain in the neck. It's not a mere bug just like the one that affected the PlayStation 2020 Wrap-Up feature last year: it can affect people whose private information is stored in Sony's servers. Here's to hoping that additional security measures will be implemented, alongside hardware-specific fixes that will prevent something like this from happening in the future.