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Sony Blackballs Blog Over PS3 Rumor 219

Posted by Zonk
from the shot-across-the-port-bow dept.
Earlier today Kotaku ran an article looking at the possible future of PlayStation 3's online component. They detail a form of Sony Mii, with achievements accruing in an actual room as you succeed in playing games. During their correspondence with Sony as preparation for the story, the company asked them very specifically not to run the story. They then threatened to pull PR support for the site if they ran the story. When the story went up anyway, Sony followed through with its threats: "So, it is for this reason, that we will be canceling all further interviews for Kotaku staff at GDC and will be dis-inviting you to our media event next Tuesday. Until we can find a way to work better together, information provided to your site will only be that found in the public forum. Again, I take absolutely no joy in sending you this note, but given the situation you have put me into, I have no choice. - Dave Karraker, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications, Sony Computer Entertainment America." Update: 03/02 02:27 GMT by Z : I am happy to be able to add that Sony and Kotaku made up after what sounds like a lengthy phone call. 'Good on you' to both Mr. Karraker and Mr. Crecente.
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Sony Blackballs Blog Over PS3 Rumor

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  • And then... (Score:5, Funny)

    by elvum (9344) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:42PM (#18200228) Journal
    Dave Karraker, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications, Sony Computer Entertainment America, then picked up his ball and went home with it.
    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@yah o o .com> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:48PM (#18200310) Journal
      And thought to himself, somewhat sadly, "Why won't more people play with my balls? People used to love my balls! My balls were the best balls on the market. Now they just want to play with Bill's balls and Reggie's balls. Damn it! My balls are just sitting on the shelves collecting dust. I'm gonna get fired, and then I'm gonna have to play with my old, dusty balls all by myself."
      • by Secrity (742221)
        I certainly will not be buying any more of Sony's balls.

        This story had nothing to do with my decision not to buy another Sony product, I have been not buying Sony products for over a year now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      In a related note, Ken Kutaragi was heard to say, "The next generation doesn't start until Sony says Microsoft and Nintendo have started it."
  • Nutshell (Score:4, Funny)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow@wrought.gmail@com> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:42PM (#18200236) Homepage Journal
    That'd be the difference between on the record and off the record. Now we need only await for the blogosphere's calm and reasoned response.
  • Waaaaaaah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fotbr (855184) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:42PM (#18200238) Journal
    Rule number one about secrets: If more than one person knows it, its no longer secret.
  • by Erioll (229536) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:42PM (#18200240)
    They said not to do it. They reinforce it. And yet they do it anyways. Makes sense that they get blackballed. If you want exclusive info, you play by their rules. If you want to be a "stick it to them" outfit, then they'd better be prepared to get their information from other sources.
    • by krakelohm (830589)
      Exactly. How many times do you need to warn someone? If you don't play by the rules sometimes you get your ass swatted.
    • I'm not sure even calling it blackballed is fair. When I think of blackballing, I think of someone deliberately trying to destroy the "blackballee" in an industry, not simply disconnecting them from a single "blackballing" company.

      In other words, I'm totally justified in not letting you play with my ball. It's only when I try to stop you from using any balls, or play in any game I'm related to, that it becomes blackballing.
    • by PeelBoy (34769)
      It wasn't exclusive content it was a rumor that Kotaku tried to confirm. Had Kotaku never tried to confirm the rumor and just published it then Sony would have never had a chance to ask them to please not publish the story. So what would you say if Sony blackballed a site for publishing a rumor and nothing more?

    • by W2k (540424) <`wilhelm.svenselius' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:07PM (#18200586) Homepage Journal
      The thing is, Sony has no right to tell another website what they may or may not publish. Sony even trying to tell a journalist what he may or may not write about them is unethical. Kotaku did the right thing by standing up for journalistic integrity, and Sony's PR department are a bunch of asshats. Keeping information from being leaked is an internal matter for Sony. Once it's out, it's out. Now they've left an influential gaming blog with nothing left to lose in terms of their relationship to Sony. And Kotaku no doubt still has whatever source they got the rumours from.

      It can be argued whether Kotaku was smart to act the way they did, but they are certainly right - and Sony wrong - from a moral perspective. The big mistake was the Sony PR guy threatening to blackball. To Kotaku, that must have been a sure sign they were sitting on some hot stuff. It would have been stupid not to publish at that point.
      • by feepness (543479) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:37PM (#18200910) Homepage
        The thing is, Sony has no right to tell another website what they may or may not publish.

        Agreed. And Kotaku has no right to future insider information.

        This isn't about rights, it's about relationships.
        • by seebs (15766) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @08:22PM (#18201436) Homepage
          This is a good analysis.

          Sony needs positive press a lot more than Kotaku needs help finding Sony stories; empirically, they were finding stuff Sony wasn't giving out even to the people they were supposedly helping out.

          Sony just pissed off every video game blogger in the world. Kotaku just showed real class.

          It's about relationships, and Sony doesn't understand any relationship but "you suck our cock and pay for the privilege". This is working against them now.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by feepness (543479)
            Sony just pissed off every video game blogger in the world. Kotaku just showed real class.

            I still honestly don't think Sony did anything wrong. No one has a right to their information. And Kotaku is just doing what works for themselves. No big surprise or class there.

            But I think Sony would have been smarter to quietly 'X' Kotaku's name off their buddy list rather than get all pissy about it.
            • by Cadallin (863437)
              It isn't really that Sony did anything wrong per se. Just that they done (yet again) something monumentally stupid and possibly suicidal. The thing I think people are really taking issue with is Sony's "Fuck you! I don't need you, Kotaku, I don't need anybody, and I don't care who Knows!" attitude. Had Sony done as you described it wouldn't have been nearly as big a deal. But they DID get all pissy about it, and that's the point.

              Kotaku has a fair degree of credibility to the core gamer demographic,

            • by seebs (15766)
              What Sony did wrong was threaten a journalist.

              Sure, they have no obligation to give out freebies and exclusives -- but saying they're being withheld just because they don't like a story the journalist ran? Petty and juvenile.

              Of course, even past the threat: It is just plain dumb of Sony to deny information to a company that could be generating buzz for them.
            • by Aladrin (926209)

              I agree, Sony did nothing wrong. What they did was not smart. With all the trouble they've had in the last year, the last thing they want to do is piss off any gamers or gamer news sites.

              If they'd done exactly as they did, but didn't TELL them they were doing it, none of this would be an issue. This is simple PR, and Sony has failed even in that arena.

              2 years ago, I'd have been seriously considering getting in line for a PS3. I love(d) my PS2 and had a ton of fun with it. But their att

        • by cgenman (325138)
          Agreed. And Kotaku has no right to future insider information.

          This isn't about rights, it's about relationships.


          So Kotaku posts Sony's fluffy PR pieces an hour after everyone else, but in exchange gets to post any real news days before anyone else is "allowed" to? Sounds like a good deal to me.

          Severing all relationships with an information portal is the nuclear option. Sony resorted to the nuclear option over a rumor that was already in the public eye anyway. Sure, Kotaku could have avoided publishing th
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by khchung (462899)

          This isn't about rights, it's about relationships.

          Exactly.

          Trust and respect build relationships. Treating everyone as your adversary and see how much you can "score" against them will not make you friends, even though all you did was "legal" and "within your rights".

          For example, if you works in IT dept of a company, and one guy comes to you and ask you about a rumor of a potentially very disruptive new IT policy. Without confirming the rumor, you ask that guy "don't spread such rumor", and then that guy g

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Sony even trying to tell a journalist what he may or may not write about them is unethical.

        I don't think the word 'unethical' means what you think it means.

        PR is about three things:
        1. Advocating and disseminating one point of view.
        2. Crisis avoidance
        3. Damage control

        Sony's PR people were doing #2 when they first asked Kokatu not to publish that story and again when they threatened to blackball the site.

        Kotaku did the right thing by standing up for journalistic integrity, and Sony's PR department are a bunch

      • by Shihar (153932)
        [quote]Sony has no right to tell another website what they may or may not publish.[/quote]

        Sony didn't tell them what they can and can not publish. They just told them that there would be a consequence of they did publish... namely they would not get anything other then press releases from Sony from that point on. That is a perfectly fair thing to do.

        I don't know what Sony said exactly to the blog, but what they should have done was offer a deal. In exchange for not publishing the rumor, Sony should have
    • by seebs (15766)
      I dunno why you're all fussy about him walloping her. He done told her she'd get a whuppin' if she kept carryin' on like that.

      *spits*

      Seems fair to me. She wants to get all up in her man's face, she oughta expect a couple black eyes. Yup!
    • by radish (98371)
      The smart move would have been to offer Kotaku an exclusive in exchange for an NDA. That way everyone's happy - Kotaku get a big scoop and Sony get to keep their secret. The dumb move would have been to threaten one of the most widely read news outlets covering your business with "not being invited to our next press conference".

      I guess it comes as no surprise which Sony chose to go with. I don't think anyone's saying Sony weren't entirely within their rights, I think we're just saying they were really, real
  • by betamaxV2.1 (609267) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:49PM (#18200332)
    If the information being discussed is so important to Sony's strategy or business, why discuss it with members of the MEDIA in the first place? It seems to me that if they wanted them to post a story or interview at a certain time or after a certain date they should have politely requested such an action.

    Reacting the way that they did just isn't smart on any level. Something is really wrong with Sony. And I am not jumping on the Sony hating bandwagon either. With all of their problems (rootkits, batteries, flubbed product launches, etc) I don't see how any Sony investor could be happy with the way the company is headed. I would hate to see Sony go completely out of business. We all know that the more competition in the market the better. I honestly think that Sony has become to large. They need to split into separate entities and change their branding accordingly. The Sony name needs to refer to TVs, stereos, Walkmans, and other hardware since that is what Sony is/was originally known for.
  • Grey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MeanderingMind (884641) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:50PM (#18200338) Homepage Journal
    This is a case of grey area if ever there was one.

    We can argue that Kotaku was foolish and that Sony was harsh, but really it looks to me like both companies were doing their jobs.

    It's in Kotaku's interest to publish rumors, to not be "under the thumb" of any one company they report on, and to do their journalism in as unbiased and unthreatened a fashion as possible.

    It's in Sony's interest to dodge rumors, save important features for display at key media events, and handle their PR in the fashion they feel is best for their image.

    Could Kotaku have tried harder to get Sony's blessing on the article? Maybe. Could Sony have been less harsh? Maybe. I don't think this constitutes a mistake on either's part, just a sad end.
    • > It's in Kotaku's interest to publish rumors,

      This is hardly "rumor," though.

      FTA: "During their correspondence with Sony as preparation for the story, the company asked them very specifically not to run the story."

      If they were actually corresponding with Sony about the story then I'd say this looks much more like "proprietary information that, if you guys will just sit tight on it for a few days, we'll show off to you at that conference we invited you to next week."

      > to not be "under the thumb" of any
      • by GodInHell (258915) *

        If they were actually corresponding with Sony about the story then I'd say this looks much more like "proprietary information that, if you guys will just sit tight on it for a few days, we'll show off to you at that conference we invited you to next week."

        I think that's a mischaricterization of the story. The article says they got the rumor, and tried to confirm with Sony. That sounds like journalism to me. "So, Mr Chenny, we hear you leaked Ms. Plame's identity" "nyah.. if you print that.. we will cut you out of future information.. nyah". Sure, it's not an important story, but this is Kotaku's beat.. they report on video games. They did their job.

        If I feel bad for anyone here, it's sony. They flubbed this one.. Kotaku has played their cards tight here,

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          I think that's a mischaricterization of the story. The article says they got the rumor, and tried to confirm with Sony. That sounds like journalism to me. "So, Mr Chenny, we hear you leaked Ms. Plame's identity" "nyah.. if you print that.. we will cut you out of future information.. nyah". Sure, it's not an important story, but this is Kotaku's beat.. they report on video games. They did their job.

          I can see that as a responcible reaction. After all, it wasn't Cheney who outed Plame, It was long time dem

    • Re:Grey (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DingerX (847589) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:15PM (#18200700) Journal
      Er, "news" and "journalism" do not involve "rumor". Rumor can lead you to something, but if you are going to publish a "high ranking source" article, you better be sure that source is high ranking, and that your information is reliable. Otherwise, it is, as Kotaku stated, "a rumor". An "anonymous source" does not cut it: that could be my grandmother. Spreading rumors is neither journalism nor publishing news.

      Okay, so here's probably what happens: someone leaks something to Kotaku. Who's leaking it? We don't know; nor do we know why. But they think it's pretty good stuff. So Kotaku pursues the story with their contacts at Sony. Here's the problems:
      1. How many new services or products have been announced as "confirmation" of an apparently "off-the-record" story?
      2. In their correspondence with their "official sources", was any information about the "rumor" confirmed or denied? If the official source says, "yes, but please keep quiet about it", well, then you've got a worthless source and a privileged one, and -- even if you attribute everything to the "worthless" source --, your decision to publish could have been and probably was motivated by the confirmation through the privileged source. And that's how your privileged source is going to view it.
      3. How did Kotaku establish contacts with the "leak"? From the Sony PR perspective, the answer is going to be, "most likely through the access we gave them to our company".

      I have no love for Sony here, but Kotaku's argument for a "journalistic ethical stance" is pretty thin. They weren't "just doing their job".

      But I guess the competition among game blogs is fierce, as it is for the consoles they write about.
  • Its Sony's right to give out information to whoever they choose.

    I think the more interesting thing here is that they're planning on copying Nintendo and Microsoft's ideas. Its a pretty cool combination of the two ideas though.
    • by GrayCalx (597428)
      Yeah I agree. Someone dig up the quote from Sony before the PS3 release about how Achievements and Gamer Points are silly and aren't needed. I'm too lazy. And tired. And I might have dreamed it.
    • by rishistar (662278)
      Well what they should have done is copy Nintendo's approach to this: say the complete opposite is going to happen, and then proceed as planned anyway. Nintendo are great for doing this (eg we are not going to upgrade the DS) and in the long run people appreciate thats how Nintendo play the game. Its almost like Sony are going through the phase Nintendo were 10 years ago.
  • They're both right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vaibhav_Locke (1010373) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:52PM (#18200380)
    Both sides have a point here. Sony depends on the media to generate buzz about their products and releases, and so provides them with a lot of exclusives and insider information. The flip side of this is, they do not expect information on a service that is in development to become public before they are ready to announce themselves However, Kotaku did not receive this information from Sony. They only went to Sony to confirm it, this was not something sony provided to them and so they had no right to ask Kotaku not to run it. I wonder how it would have played out if KT had not been so diligent, and just reported the rumor without attempting to confirm it.
  • Hate to say it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JRSchulke (977144) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:53PM (#18200398)
    I hate to say it, but I have to side with Sony on this one. They had an agreement and it was broken. It sounds like Kotaku perhaps had some privaleged information and took advantage of it. I know Sony has been digging its own grave lately, but it seems like everyone jumps on any chance to report anything negative about them. And there's a lot of it out there. -justin
    • by ninti (610358)
      "They had an agreement and it was broken" What agreement? They got a rumor and went to Sony to ask if it was true. Sony could have just said "no comment", but they said "don't publish that or we will punish you", and then did so. WTF is that?
    • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:05PM (#18200558) Journal
      All Kotaku asked was to confirm it. Sony went beyond confirming and denying and said you publish this we are through. Thats not how you play ball in the media market and in the end its going to kill Sony's relationship with every media source since as a news organization I would be less likey to publish ANYTHING unconfirmed about Sony, which is the #1 way these companies trump up excitement for their machines.

      All Sony did was shoot themselves in the foot to the people most likely to buy their stuff. They could have simply had said "no comment" and be done. Now everyone knows Kotaku had solid info (and thus ruined the surprise tuesday), and Sonys PR people are a huge bunch of assholes.

    • by slantyyz (196624)
      Yeah, but Sony brings on all the PS3 hate on themselves. Harrison and Tretton keep saying the dumbest things, which just compounds on the hate.

      Personally, I really like the PS3 (enough to buy one), but I can also understand why everyone hates it. It's expensive (for a console, but not a BD player) and it seems like the Sony brass doesn't care about their core market, the gamers, who don't have loads of cash oozing out of their pockets.
    • by Jartan (219704)

      I hate to say it, but I have to side with Sony on this one. They had an agreement and it was broken. It sounds like Kotaku perhaps had some privaleged information and took advantage of it. I know Sony has been digging its own grave lately, but it seems like everyone jumps on any chance to report anything negative about them. And there's a lot of it out there. -justin

      As usual RTFA. This isn't like some people are trying to spin it. Kotaku had a normal press relationship with Sony. They had a test unit (ko

    • by seebs (15766)
      What agreement? This was not information provided by Sony, but embargoed. This was a proper legitimate rumor.
  • and this one was no different. It's not like Kotaku just had an interview with some sony higher ups and released information before they were told to. They reported a rumor and that's it. It would've just been seen as a rumor if Sony hadn't all my confirmed it with this overblown response.
  • by kjlong (929549) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:07PM (#18200596)
    Why not just "no comment"? Would it have been quite as big a story if Sony had just refused to comment instead of throwing out lots of threats? Does Microsoft do this? I know Apple sues, but what do other companies do when faced with this kind of thing? Did Sony ask them to hold off on the story, or try to work with them, or just throw out threats?
    • by cowscows (103644)
      Exactly. If Sony had just said no comment, they still might have had their big announcement slightly ruined, but then at least we'd all be talking about these new features instead of talking about how Sony threatened and then blacklisted a video game website.

      I guess they bet on Kotaku folding, but I'm not sure what made Sony think the odds were in their favor.
  • Typical Sony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tepshen (851674)
    I think that Sony will find this happening more and more as they continue to put out crazy marketing. Its gotten to the point that the PR that they dole out is so innacurate that bloggers find themselves actually researching stories on thier own to get accurate information. Sony doesnt want this because the actual news regarding thier plans is nowhere near as good as they would like us to belive.
  • by wpegden (931091) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:45PM (#18201006)

    They detail a form of Sony Mii, with achievements accruing in an actual room as you succeed in playing games.
    I can't help but see this sentence as as indicator that the Slashdot crowd is a bit disconnected from reality. In what sense is this an "actual" room??
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kperson (771747)
      I've been to this "actual room", and when I saw it my head "literally exploded" with excitement.
  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:53PM (#18201096) Homepage Journal
    Wow, Apple and Sony sound more and more similar every week with stories like these. Products going for "five hundred and ninety-nine US dollars", company getting pissed at bloggers for leaking stories, what's next? Maybe someone from Sony will diss DRM. We can only hope.
  • Who really couldn't have guessed that Sony would badmouth and then copy Xbox Live Achievements and Miis while passing it off as innovation? And of course several people have. Really, being dicks like this just adds more credence to the rumor than ignoring it would have.

    Next up: WHOOPS I guess rumble isn't so last-gen after all.
  • I think the real news here is that Kotaku actually had a reliable source for one of their stories.

  • "What someone doesn't want you to publish is journalism; all else is publicity." -- Paul Fussell

  • they are bound and determined to kill themselves. and are hard on the right path.
  • Resolved (Score:3, Informative)

    by StrahdVZ (1027852) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @09:36PM (#18202220)
    Dont know if this has been posted yet.


    http://kotaku.com/gaming/sony/sony-and-kotaku-make up-240922.php [kotaku.com]

    • This is indeed resolved. Sony isn't the she-devil anymore. (Not reall, and yes I own a Wii)
    • by Dahamma (304068)
      I wish I had mod points... though knowing /. it would just get modded back down so that people ccould keep bashing Sony for another few hours.
  • by Tronster (25566) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @09:56PM (#18202412) Homepage
    Sony's PR contacted Kotaku, they talked, and while continued to disagree reverted on their decision to ban them from their press channels:

    http://kotaku.com/gaming/sony/sony-and-kotaku-make up-240922.php [kotaku.com]

    Everyone makes mistakes; I'm glad to see Sony realized their err and wasn't prideful about maintaining their snap decision.
    • I am hoping that Sony (and other companies) will learn a few things from this whole experience:

      1) The gaming community is extremely connected. Good news travels fast, but bad news is lightspeed. Wait before you do something stupid like blackball a popular gaming website. Maybe it's worth trying the "count to 10 before sending off a nasty e-mail" tactic?

      2) More respect needs to be given to the gaming press in general. You can't push them around, just because you happen to be the content provider. Maybe that
  • Interesting story, but it's over and through. Soon after, Sony called and retracted their statement [kotaku.com].

    He told me his take on the story and his frustrations and I told him mine, in the end we agreed to disagree on some level, but also decided that our readers and gamers in general would be best served if Sony and Kotaku could still play nicely together.

    In a nutshell: The story remains up and Sony has re-invited us to the meetings and interviews initially scheduled for the Game Developers Conference.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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