Sony Agrees To Settlement in PlayStation Network Hacking Case

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 24, 2014

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Sony, purveyor of all things entertaining and technological, has agreed in principle to a class action settlement stemming from a 2011 attack on their PlayStation Network (PSN).

As reported by Kotaku, Polygon and various other outlets, the settlement offer will give gamers affected by the hack a number of potential compensatory options ranging from cash to free games to three months of free PlayStation Plus (PS+) access. PS+ is Sony’s premium online service, similar to Microsoft’s ubiquitous Xbox Live.

Millions of PlayStation Accounts Affected by Security Breach

videogameThe security breach, achieved by hacker collective Anonymous, compromised nearly 77 million PSN accounts and led to a network shutdown lasting weeks. A public apology followed, along with several fines and the implementation of a “Welcome Back” program once the breach was repaired and service was restored.

PSN users were allowed to choose two games from a list of five offered by Sony, and owners of PlayStation Portable (PSP) systems were allowed to choose two titles from a separate list. All users were also given a free 30 days of PS+ and current subscribers at the time were given an extra 60 days of service free of charge.

Settlement Logistics

Despite almost instant action on Sony’s part, lawsuits followed almost immediately, and it appears the class action will finally be resolved provided the court approves the proposed settlement. The settlement is valued at $15 million, and will be distributed once again in the form of games, cash and free PS+ access. As is common in these types of class action claims, registration on a claim-specific will be required to become part of the settlement class.

Both users who participated in the Welcome Back program in 2011 and those that did not will be eligible for compensation. Participants will be able to choose from several free PS3 or PSP games, PS3 themes or three free months of PS+ service. Additionally, anyone who lost more than $2 worth of PSN store credit will be eligible for a refund, and users who were unable to access paid streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus will be entitled to three free months of PS+ access. Gamers who can prove that their identities were stolen because of the security breach will be eligible for cash payments of up to $2,500.00.

The payouts will be capped, and will vary depending upon whether users received compensation in the form of the Welcome Back program. Claims will be processed in a first come/first served manner so timely registration on the settlement website (whenever it goes live) will be of utmost importance.

Sony’s “Current Generation” Gaming System Not Included

It is interesting to note that Sony is not offering either PlayStation 4 or PlayStation Vita games in compensation for the 2011 leak. The Vita and PS4—successor systems to the PS3 and PSP—are Sony’s “current generation” of gaming systems. They had not been released to the public at the time of the 2011 hack. Limiting the compensatory giveaways to last-gen games will likely save Sony millions of dollars, as current-gen software is often sold at a higher price point.

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