The PlayStation Network And The Evolution Of A Gaming Phenomenon

The PlayStation Network as well as providing online gaming, also encompasses TV, music and movie streaming services. Launched in the year 2000, the second home console from Sony the PlayStation 2, started with a limited number of features for certain games, when using their online network. Also a network adaptor that was integrated into their slimline model hardware, had to be purchased separately as an add-on, for all their original models.

In the early days there was no unified service for the PlayStation Network. Support from Sony for network features was at that time specific to each game, with no interoperability of cross-game presence. As things progressed during the development of the PlayStation 3, their third home console, they built upon the functionality of their previous model and created an interconnected service, allowing players to stay in constant touch with the network.

Sony officially rolled out their unified online service in March 2006, and named it the PlayStation Network Platform, announcing a list of its supporting features later that same year at the Tokyo Game Show. In addition to their free PSN service, they later launched their optional premium subscription service called PlayStation Plus in 2010. This would provide membership access to complimentary games, early-bird access to upcoming games, as well as regular store discounts and access to exclusive content.

In wasn't too long before they suffered a security violation and the PSN had to be temporarily suspended on April 20, 2011. This affected over 75 million registered account-holders and lasted for a total of 23 days, the longest amount of time the company had been offline since their inception in 2006.

Included in this security breach Sony reported that user data had been obtained, however in June 2011 they launched a Welcome Back program allowing all affected subscribers to download two PlayStation portable games and two PlayStation 3 titles for free, to make things up.

In the summer of 2012, Sony announced the acquisition of the Gaikai video game streaming service for $380 million. This was to be later followed by acquiring the assets of OnLive, Gaikai's market competitor.

In 2014 at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Sony announced that Gaikai's technology would be utilized to power their new PlayStation Now cloud-based gaming service, allowing users to play PlayStation games from multiple devices. Whilst the company are recognized as being synonymous with gaming, in their own words the PlayStation Network has now evolved. It has now become a "comprehensive digital entertainment brand".

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