The great PlayStation Network hack in 2011 had a huge cultural impact on Sony, and may have played a part in its decision to controversially utilise expensive proprietary memory in the PS Vita, according to a former employee. As part of an AMA on Reddit – moderators verified the ex-staffer, although their identity remains unknown – they explained that the platform holder was petrified of hacks in the aftermath of the outage.
“It's hard to express just how much of a cultural impact the 2011 hack had on Sony’s culture,” they wrote in response to a question about the expensive storage cards. “Proprietary memory cards were to deter hacks.”
The company was roundly criticised for the pricey memory cards, which cost up to $119.99 for the largest 32GB permutation at launch. In hindsight, many feel this was one of the deciding factors behind the device’s failure. “The proprietary memory card was a hack deterrent,” the former staffer reiterated. “I don't know the name of the specific person who made the decision, but that was the rationale.”
It’s perhaps worth mentioning that the PSN hack occurred just a few months before the PS Vita’s domestic launch in Japan, so it’s likely plans for proprietary memory were already well underway before that even happened. However, it’s certainly possible that PlayStation may have been undecided on which direction to take, and the outage pushed it over the edge.
Elsewhere in the posts, the former employee explained that the handheld was considered a failure from the beginning internally, and that the upcoming closure of the console’s PS Store mostly comes down to maintenance. “Payment systems require a lot of technical maintenance and deprecated systems provide easy attack vectors for sensitive information,” they added.
Their post continues: “And there’s a ton of work involved in making sure everyone gets their money when sales are processed. I can’t say for sure whether the ‘cost’ and ‘profit’ lines ever fully crossed, but I can say that in conjunction with the other reasons I've outlined, Sony was pretty ready to be done with the PS Vita.”
You can read more of the former employee’s responses through here, although it’s worth noting that – while it makes for interesting reading – none of the claims can be officially verified. It all makes logical sense to us, though – there’s some fascinating stuff about a culture war occurring between the Japanese and American offices, which we’ve effectively seen play out publicly these past few years.