No, Sony, PSN is not 'one of the worldʼs leading network services'

psn down
psn down (Image credit: Android Central)

I recently read through Sony's Corporate Report 2019 and found this amazing gem of a quote:

Our progress in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019 can be measured by the growth of PSN, which has become one of the worldʼs leading network services. Game & Network Services (G&NS) posted the largest sales and profit ever recorded by a single segment of Sony, and that achievement was driven by PSN, which accounts for more than 60% of the segmentʼs sales.

Let's just highlight a particular part of that: "...PSN, which has become one of the worldʼs leading network services." Excuse me while I laugh.

Sony, I love you, but in what reality is the PlayStation Network one of the world's leading network services, because it surely isn't the one I'm living in. And I reckon it's not the same world that most people are living in. By what metric is this being defined? Quantity? The sheer number of users? Quantity does not equal quality, and that statement is misleading at best. PSN has more users than Xbox Live simply because the PS4 has sold gangbusters, not because it's any good.

An independent study from the IHS Markit determined Xbox Live to be the fastest, most reliable network in a head-to-head evaluation against the PlayStation Network. And if you look at the report, Xbox Live beat PSN in nearly every category tested during multiple scenarios.

Mercury needs to be in retrograde during a full moon for the PlayStation Network to work properly.

In my own experience, I've had a much more difficult time joining multiplayer matches and starting parties on PlayStation 4. Just last week I had trouble joining a party with fellow Android Central writer James Bricknell because of incompatible NAT types — at least, that's according to what my PS4 told me after shutting the party down. If he invited me to the party, we couldn't hear one another, but if I invited him everything worked out fine. The opposite happened the week before that where, when I invited him, it wouldn't work. I should not have to jump through hoops, perform a ritual sacrifice, change my NAT type, or start a party ten times for it to finally work.

It's beginning to feel like the stars must be aligned and Mercury needs to be in retrograde during a full moon for the PlayStation Network to work properly.

Are both PSN and Xbox Live prone to DDOS attacks and go down from time to time? Sure. No online service has a perfect uptime record. But it doesn't help when there's an infamous example of PSN being hacked, resulting in the network going down for several weeks and Sony settling a lawsuit for $15 million because the information of 77 million users was compromised. The service has definitely gotten better, and more secure, since then, but the bar still shouldn't be that low.

If Sony wants to focus on Direct to Consumer businesses (DTC) like the PlayStation Network when the PlayStation 5 releases, as this report indicates, and I believe it should, in addition to quality games, it needs to do a hell of a lot better.

The company said that it "will continue to evolve playersʼ experiences on PlayStation through advances in computing, streaming, the cloud, 5G and other technologies." Well, that advancement needs to come quickly. Preferably before the PlayStation 5 launches.

It wasn't that long ago that PlayStation Plus only cost $50 instead of the $60 we're used to paying for PS Plus or Xbox Live. Not to say that a cheaper service always means it's inferior, but that money goes a long way in building a more reliable service for everyone.

If Xbox Live is Google Chrome, then PSN would be Internet Explorer. And that's a hell of a feat considering Microsoft is the one that developed Explorer. How Microsoft can make the best product and worst product is beyond me, but it works out in its favor when it comes to gaming services. Just not web browsers and search engines.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.