|A man plays his Sony PlayStation portable console at a PlayStation wireless spot in an electronic shop in Tokyo May 15, 2011. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
As hacker groups continue to wreak chaos around the Internet like so many pirate ships terrorizing coastal waters, Sony is vowing their online digital fortress is as rock solid as can be.
"All I can tell you is we're more secure than we've ever been, and more focused than we've ever been at it," Sony Computer Entertainment of America president and CEO Jack Tretton said during a Canadian exclusive interview at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
Sony is in the process of rebuilding gamer and consumer trust after an April hacker attack on the PlayStation Network -- the online gaming hub for PlayStation owners -- resulted in the theft of personal data from 77 million user accounts, forcing Sony to take the network offline for six weeks and redesign its security from scratch.
"People are concerned about their personal data at all times," Tretton said. "The irony of that is we live in a social networking age where people can't wait to tell everybody what they did over the last two minutes, where they did it, who they did it with.
"People throw their personal data around extensively, but I think they'd prefer to do it voluntarily than have somebody do it for them."
The PlayStation Network, which is offered free to all PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable owners, is now up and running, and Tretton says usage is back up to 90% of what it was prior to the hacking incident.
Still, forums on gaming websites are peppered with rants by gamers who feel Sony should offer more compensation for the downtime. Tretton doesn't seem particularly moved by the vocal minority who feel a few welcome back freebies aren't enough to make up for six weeks of separation from their Call of Duty clan.
"I think every consumer has the right to want whatever they want, and if they don't feel that a company delivers that, they have the right to do business elsewhere."
While Sony came into E3 prepared to deal with fallout from the hacker attack, the company was also eager to show off PlayStation Vita, the upcoming successor to the PlayStation Portable. Due to go on sale at the end of this year for $249 (a $299 model featuring 3G wireless data will also be available), the handheld boasts unprecedented power and features for a portable gaming machine.
"It's everything we wanted the PlayStation Portable to be, but the technology didn't exist in 2004," Tretton said of Vita, which has a five-inch touchscreen, powerful processors, motion-sensing controls and twin analog joysticks.
But even though rival Nintendo will be launching a new game console next year, Sony is content to let Vita be the only new PlayStation making its debut in the near future. So don't hold your breath for that PlayStation 4.
"We feel we're midpoint at best (with the PlayStation 3), I do not want to see a new console from us any time soon," Tretton said. "I think it would be disruptive, and it would be at the expense of the momentum we're building on PlayStation 3."