It has been nearly four years since hackers brought down Sony’s PlayStation Network, a popular online gaming service that tens of millions of gamers use for everything from Netflix to multi-player gaming with friends. Not only did the hackers bring PSN services to a grinding halt, they also compromised the accounts of PSN users, stealing personal information.
Sony attempted to appease frustrated fans — who waited for more than a month without the service — by offering two free games and identity theft protection for one year. The incident cost Sony at least $171 million at the time, not including the current lawsuit or a nearly $400,000 fine levied by United Kingdom regulators, which charged that the company could have prevented the data breach.
Despite the company’s best efforts to head off a lawsuit, it was not enough. Angry users filed a class action lawsuit targeting the company for failing to protect their accounts from intrusion. According to the settlement website:
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants did not adequately protect the Network Platforms and, as a result, unauthorized people were able to access certain accountholder information. According to Plaintiffs, Defendants’ inadequate security measures allowed unauthorized people to access and steal this information to commit fraud and identity theft. Plaintiffs also claim that the accountholders were legally injured by the unavailability of the PSN, the Qriocity service, and the SOE services, while they were temporarily offline after the Intrusions.
Sony settled the lawsuit in July rather than going to court. Depending on whether PSN users already claimed games as part of the company’s “Welcome Back” program — the aforementioned two free game olive branch offered right after the hacking incident — PSN users in the US who had an account prior to May 15, 2011 can claim as many as two games, free themes, or a free PlayStation Plus subscription. Users are still eligible for at least one free game even if they were among the “Welcome Back” recipients.
The company is offering eight different PS3 choices and five different PSP choices. Several of the games being offered were among those given during the “Welcome Back” campaign.
Sony is emailing users with details but you can also visit http://psnsoesettlement.com/ for more information. Claims can be filed either online or by mail. They must be filed before August 31, 2015 to claim a benefit.
In addition, PSN users who purchased identity theft protection after the hacking incident can also receive compensation for those services as part of the settlement agreement. The company is also offering compensation for lost paid subscriptions to Qriocity (now known as Music Unlimited) and third party services such as Netflix.