PlayStation Network (PSN) is a digital media entertainment service provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Launched in November 2006, PSN was originally conceived for the PlayStation video game consoles, but soon extended to encompass smartphones, tablets, Blu-ray players and high-definition televisions. As of April 2016, over 110 million users have been documented, with 103 million of them active monthly as of December 2019
PlayStation Network's services are dedicated to an online marketplace (PlayStation Store), a premium subscription service for enhanced gaming and social features (PlayStation Plus), movie streaming, rentals and purchases (PlayStation Video), music streaming (PlayStation Music, powered by Spotify) and a cloud gaming service (PlayStation Now). The service is available in 73 territories.
Launched in the year 2000, Sony's second home console, the PlayStation 2, had rudimentary online features in select games via its online network. It required a network adaptor, which was available as an add-on for original models and integrated into the hardware on slimline models. However, Sony provided no unified service for the system, so support for network features was specific to each game and third-party server, and there was no interoperability of cross-game presence. Five years later during the development stage for its third home console, the PlayStation 3, Sony expressed their intent to build upon the functionality of its predecessor by creating a new interconnected service that keeps users constantly in touch with a "PlayStation World" network. In March 2006, Sony officially introduced its unified online service, tentatively named "PlayStation Network Platform". A list of supporting features was announced at the Tokyo Game Show later the same year.
Sony launched an optional premium subscription service on top of the free PSN service in June 2010. Known as PlayStation Plus, the system provides access to exclusive content, complimentary games, regular store discounts, and early access to forthcoming games.
Following a security intrusion, the PlayStation Network had a temporary suspension of operation which began on April 20, 2011 and affected 77 million registered accounts. Lasting 23 days, this outage was the longest amount of time the PSN had been offline since its inception in 2006. Sony reported that user data had been obtained during the intrusion. In June 2011, Sony launched a "Welcome Back" program following the outage, allowing all PSN subscribers who joined prior to April 20 to download two free PlayStation 3 titles and two free PlayStation Portable games. Users also received 30 free days of PlayStation Plus, while users who were already subscribed before the outage got 60 free days. After the disruption, Sony changed the PlayStation Network's license agreement to legally bar users from filing lawsuits and joining class action lawsuits without first trying to resolve issues with an arbitrator.
In July 2012, Sony Computer Entertainment announced that they had acquired video game streaming service Gaikai for $380 million. The acquisition was later strengthened when Sony acquired the assets of Gaikai's market rival OnLive. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2014, Sony announced that Gaikai's technology would be used to power PlayStation Now; a new cloud-based gaming service that allows people to play PlayStation games on a variety of devices. During 2014, Sony rolled out the service in North America on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in beta form as a means for users to test performance and pricing structures.
On December 25, 2014, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live suffered network disruption after a denial-of-service attack. Both services were flooded with millions of inauthentic connection requests, making it hard for genuine users to establish a connection. Functionality was restored on December 26, with some users experiencing difficulties in the days that followed. On January 1, 2015, Sony announced that users would be compensated for the downtime with a 5-day extension to PlayStation Plus memberships.
Formerly the gaming provision of the much broader Sony Entertainment Network, the PlayStation Network became Sony's premier entertainment service in 2015, unifying games, music, television and video. While synonymous with gaming, Sony said the PlayStation Network had evolved to become a "comprehensive digital entertainment brand". The SEN name is still used in some places.
Signing up to the PlayStation Network is free. Two types of accounts can be created: Master accounts and Sub accounts. A master account allows full access to all settings, including parental controls. Sub accounts can subsequently be created (e.g. for children) with desired restrictions set by the master account holder. A sub account holder has the option to upgrade their account once they reach 18 years of age. Sony encourage registrants to use a unique email and strong password not associated with other online services.
An Online ID is one's username on the PlayStation Network. It can range from 3 to 16 characters in length and consist of letters, numbers, hyphens and underscores. A user's Online ID is central to your PSN profile and is displayed when playing online games and using other network features. In April 2019, Sony enabled users to change their online PSN ID.
Users have the option to disclose their real name aside their Online ID, add a personal description, exhibit a profile picture or avatar, and list all spoken languages. Profiles also include a summary of a player's Trophy level and recent activity. Profiles can be viewed via the user interface or online through the PlayStation website.
A Portable ID is a small infographic intended for use as a forum signature. The graphic showcases a user's trophy level and number of trophies awarded. Each user is able to log into their PSN account using a web browser to access and customize their Portable ID, and are then given a unique URL which they can cut & paste to display their ID elsewhere on the internet. Several third-party websites offer similar graphics (commonly referred to as "trophy cards") as both free and paid services which either update automatically or are updated manually by the user.
Trophies are awards presented to gamers for hitting specific targets or reaching certain milestones in a game.