Although this blog is now officially closed it is still getting a huge volume of hits and traffic so I have shared this here also…
View it in its new home here : https://tbni.co.uk/?p=1496
If you follow my twitter feed or Sony / Playstation or Game UK you will no doubt have seen the fury spread across the internet of foul play, cheating, link sharing and as Sony as so very prone too, hacking! #4thePlayers #notfortheplayers #forthecheats
On 15-19 December 2014 Playstation UK and Game UK ran a competition that meant the first 100 correct entries to this competition got a opportunity to purchase – at full price (£399) – a 20th Anniversary Edition of the console. One of only 13,500 globally, so a very rare item indeed. Well at least that was their plan until link sharing, web site crashing, cheating and hacking took over and left the genuine gamer with no chance whatsoever of bagging one of these much sought after machines.
Allegations flew but facts remain, users (cheaters) ended up with multiple consoles…
You will see from the screen grabs above that this user even claims to be a genuine gamer, but is so very kindly prepared to accepted £3000 for a console (but yet they mean so much to him and he is so blessed) yet towards the end of his posting he is getting rather abusive and showing his true colours!
One user actually took to his blog to show how to hack the website so you could enter even before the clues were issued!
His full posting can be found here : https://deano2390.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/hacking-that-playstation-competition/
At the conclusion of the competition he even posted the following update : https://deano2390.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/so-what-did-sony-do-about-it/
There are so very many aspects of this story that simply stink from Sony / Playstation and Game all of which I have outlined in a letter that I have sent to some high profile UK Newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Star, The Daily Mirror, The Mail, The Daily Express as well as forwarding a copy to BBC’s Watchdog. I will be following it up with an official complaint to CAP as well and will update accordingly. I am not expecting the world but a little recognition of the mistakes made may help, recognition that rules were broken, cheaters won, gamers lost…
I feel the best way for me to share the information is to post the letter here, be warned though it is long! Have a read and feel free to share it. The more people who know how the UK Customers of Sony were treated the better!
This letter was also sent to Game UK who have yet to reply and I have been asking Playstation UK for days for an email address to post this too, they have declined to answer that simple question.
Dear Sir / Madam,
I request that you review the following information that I have supplied to you and if you feel it is worth sharing with the rest of the UK I respectfully request that you consider this.
Unfortunately I do not have the reach to ensure that the general public are aware of this situation but am aware that your publication will have.
The issue that I am reporting involves, Sony, Playstation UK and Game UK.
Let me firstly state that I am a huge Sony / Playstation fan, being the proud owner of an original PS1, PS2, a launch day PS3, a PS3 Slim, a launch Day PS4, a launch day PSP and a launch day PSVita. I have been an avid gamer for over 20 years, starting on a Commodore Plus 4 system and my father’s old Binatone Games Console. I have spend thousands of pounds, more likely tens of thousands of pounds on games, merchandise and systems over the years. I truly am a gamer, a player, and in line with Sony latest marketing campaign I see myself as their targeted audience… in the words of twitter #4theplayers
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Playstation, and as a result of this Sony have manufactured a Limited Edition Playstation 4 Console that they have marketed across the world, producing a mere 12,300 units globally. This number is to coincide with the original launch date in 1994 of the Playstation One Console.
It was initially released in the USA on Saturday 6th December 2014, whereby any American Customer of Sony simply had to go onto the Sony Website and preorder the console. A simple online purchase. However this seemingly simple purchase wasn’t really so. The servers couldn’t handle it and the Sony Online Store ground to a halt. As a Sony fan and wanting this system for my gaming collection, (which when a game system becomes out dated I retire into a glass trphy case in my games room) I actually went ahead and purchased an American shipping address, so that I could order the console, have it shipped to this address, who would then ship it back to me here in the UK.
I got onto the Sony website, ordered the console, which then had to be paid for via Paypal, which I did. The Sony website crashed and when I got back online they were all sold out.
This was my initial incident.
In response to this I emailed Sony to voice my discontent. The content of the email is as follows : This was sent on 07/12/2014
I would just like to formally state my absolute disgust at your handling of the PS4 20th Anniversary Edition preorders.
Your site couldn’t handle the load and as a result I tried many times to check out, using both PayPal and your secure server. Neither worked! And this was not a one off! I tried many times to complete my purchase, even getting through eBay and back to your site at which point it failed!
The fact that your site couldn’t handle the load meant my order never got fulfilled! For that I am obviously disgusted.
I am a genuine Sony fan, a supporter of many of your products, my launch day PSOne, launch day PS2, launch Day PS3 are all nicely displayed in a trophy cabinet in my house,
my launch Day PS4, (and PS3 Slim) are currently being played on my W8 series television! Yet now due to the failing on your website if I want to complete my collection with an 20th Anniversary Edition PS4 I have to buy one of an eBay Troll.
Just so you are aware of all of my facts I even purchased the use of a USA address which was then going to ship my console to the UK at a reasonable cost me, all of this a month before Christmas! Why? Because I am a genuine fan, a true Sony Supporter, and what rewards do we get? Nothing! A broken web site that after waiting over three hours to preorder won’t let me fulfil the order!
To say I am unhappy is an understatement, but I do understand that demand is high etc etc, but it is the lack of care you present to your genuine customers that disturbs me most.
A site that could have handled the load could have meant that the genuine customers waiting to buy the unit for themselves could have had a fair crack of the whip, unfortunately now so many of your units are on eBay selling for ungodly money by scalpers and trolls, while the rest of us look on wondering ‘why bother?’
I await your reply, and want you to understand, I am still a Sony Customer, still a gamer and a proper fan of the PS4.
It is meant to be ForTheGamers, today that unfortunately fell foul and became ForTheGreedy.
An automated reply was sent from Sony telling me to expect a reply within 24 hours…On the 10/12/2014 this reply was received :
Please be informed that PS4 20th Anniversary Edition consoles cannot be purchased in the UK; rather, it can be won through a contest that you can enter by signing up at:
Sony Store Online
Obviously a generic load of nonsense, I was particularly impressed by the Dear Customer introduction of the email, and penned the following reply : This reply was sent on 10/12/2014 about 2 hours after receiving Sony’s reply.
Dear Michael, (See I what I did there I READ your email and replied using YOUR name) Did you even read my email? As your reply is offensive to me!
I deserve better than some generic Dear CUSTOMER email (my name was clearly printed at the end of the email). You didn’t / or couldn’t even reach me with the 24 hours stated!
Please READ my email again and even have an attempt at answering my concerns. If you can’t please feel free to pass this message onto a Supervisor, again one who will preferably read the content and not reply with generic nonsense, and not only nonsense – lies!
I will back that statement up and I quote :
‘Please be informed that PS$ 20th Anniversary Edition consoles cannot be purchased in the UK;’
Well they can the pop on Sony store in LONDON is selling at number today for £19.94 and then a further 50 on Thursday and Friday. So you are lying they can be purchased.
However living in Northern Ireland – a part of the UK, and being employed and a contributor to UK economy I am not in a position to simply get on a plane to London at a days notice!
Did you even read the hassle I went to to try and buy one of these consoles? Why? Because I am a true PS Fan, a Player – you know that slogan your company fires about
#ForThePlayers? Well I am one of those Players and I was angry when I first emailed you and not my anger is even more! Why? Due to your lack of attention and not even having the common courtesy for a decent TRUTHFUL reply!
Have a look on ebay and see how this pop up store has benefitted the players! You dropped the ball on this on Sony and I await your reply. Maybe even try a name on this one. Dear Customer!!!!!!!!!
I am still awaiting a reply from this email.
Please note the fact that Sony were unable / unwilling or untruthful about the ways a UK Customer could in fact own a Limited Edition PS4.
As you can see from this email further information had been released to UK Customers and it was established that Sony and Playstation were opening a Pop Up Store in London on Wednesday 10th December 2014 from which Sony would be selling 94 Consoles for the bargain price of £19.94 on a first come first served basis. It was also released that a further 50 consoles would be sold at full RRP of £399 on 11/12/2014 and another 50 on 12/12/2014 again first come first served.
Playstation UK’s Tweets re the Pop Up Store – The anger over this stunt starts to come through on Tweet 3 :
So 194 units of the UKs allocation were instantly sold to London. The outrage on this was evident all across twitter. For every positive comment there were literally hundreds of complaints addressing the fact that anyone with a job, child minding issues or the inability to sleep outside this shop for the night where simply out of luck and would never get a console, would never even get a chance at getting one. And they were right Playstation tweeted quickly that all the consoles were gone and the online fury increased.
Playstation UK’s Tweets re the Pop Up Store and Availability :
£19.94 Queue now Full : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/542599727339298817 Thurs & Fri Queue Details : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/542600192051408896
Thurs and Fri Now Sold Out : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/ 542635767840133121
I can only presume that feeling pressured Playstation UK then gave out information that on the week commencing 15/12/2014 Playstation UK would be running a competition where you would have the chance to purchase one console, at full price if you were one of the first 100 people to solve a clue and get registered on their site. This competition would run for 5 days and at the end of each day one console would given away at random to a competition entrant. So this then accounts for a further 505 UK allocated consoles.
Console Availability from 15/12/2014 Announced : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/ 542600524168953857
The details and the tweet they released are here :
Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/543460758953000960
The online world was rife with excitement, the competition details were revealed and it was established that the competition consisted of a character map graphic which at a specific time each day would refresh and one clue would be tweeted by Playstation and Game UK, this clue led you to a character and when you clicked on him after the clue you would be taken to a ‘secret’ registration page to register your wish to buy a console. Remember this is not to win, this is just to be allowed to hand Sony / Game £400 for a console.
Monday 15th December 2014 came and the clue was tweeted by Playstation and Game UK, this is when things started to get really interesting! The web site ground to a halt, it couldn’t cope with the volume and demand. People were getting stuck at different stages of the process, and no one was able to enter. It seemed it was a complete lottery if the page would even load never mind let you register. Obviously people were getting through the registration process in little drips, it was then that the link sharing started. Twitter users where openly sharing the links on the Playstation and Game twitter feeds, all the while genuine entrants were getting stuck on the loading page, the consoles were getting snapped up by people who hadn’t even seen the character map image never mind click on the answer.
Sony, Playstation and Game buried their heads in the sand throughout this initial day like they did throughout this competition.
The competition tweet and outrage surrounding it can be found here : Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/544524495025737729 Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/544526883275018240 Game UK : https://twitter.com/GAMEdigital/status/544524733312958464 GAME UK : https://twitter.com/GAMEdigital/status/544528185564889088
Day Two didn’t improve that much, the twitter feed from Playstation can be seen here : Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/544900002883969024 GAME UK : https://twitter.com/GAMEdigital/status/544900089651933185
The servers did seem to be a bit faster, however it transpires that at some stage during this day or the early hours of Wednesday 17/12/2014 the knowledge of a hack started to spread across the internet, maybe that is why the site was faster and also maybe why nothing was won by any of the genuine entrants. Link sharing was still occurring and Sony, Playstation and Game stood idly by as it happened. Surely they have the power to delete any offending tweets and ban / block users. It was becoming increasingly evident also that many twitter users had starting using twitter accounts set up solely to spam this competition and access without fear of accounts being blocked or banned for cheating.
On December 17 2014 prior to the Day 3 Competition the following post appeared all across the gaming internet :
This user explained the workings of the competition website and how it could be hacked. Now if you weren’t a very good hacker he even packaged a little program that you just
had to unzip and run, the result of which was that his script would bounce off the PS site every 0.5 seconds looking for a change in any links, namely the link to the ‘secret’ game page. When it found this change it automatically copied it to your clipboard so all you had to do was paste it into your address bar and you were at the registration page.
Obviously it goes without saying that entering the competition on Wednesday 17th December 2014. The web site was still slow and sluggish, struggling with demand and the basically it was being bombarded with hundreds / thousands of users running the hack.
Genuine users had no chance again and link sharing was rife. The link was shared on twitter within minutes and anyone trying to enter legitimately was already out.
The twitter thread from this is available here, it was on this day that talk of the hack started to be complete public knowledge.
Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/545217245337899008 GAME UK : https://twitter.com/GAMEdigital/status/545217246432600065
This was also the day that Sony got the link wrong during their competition and numerous users ended up on a File Not Found Page. So they had got online, solved the clue, clicked the answer and Sony had sent them to an invalid page. It was established that a ‘.’ existed in the link instead of a ‘/‘ what a schoolboy mistake and one that must have cost some entrants a fair go! Sony and Games answer to the many queries on this was to say nothing, as has been their attitude towards the whole competition. This thread has also been massively cleaned up by the censor police at Playstation UK.
By December 18 2014 Day 4 of the competition the hack was widely known, only the genuine users didn’t know of it. This is clearly seen on the twitter feeds as news came through of people having registered successfully even 2 minutes before the clue was published. Sony and Game responded to this ensuring users that anyone with a timestamped entry before the clue went out will have their entries destroyed, however nothing in relation to this has ever been confirmed. Tweets link sharing were still rife as was talk of the hack, people were even posting links to it so everyone could find it. Again the thread has been tidied up by the looks of things by the Sony Police, but it was all certainly there!
Tweet thread can be found here :
Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/545488661060796416 GAME UK : https://twitter.com/GAMEdigital/status/545488664688869376
Playstation and Game then admitted on the evening of 18th December 2014 that they were aware of the hack / exploit and measures were put into place to ensure it was patched for the final day! Great news, only two possibly three of the five days had been ruined by the cheaters. Although all five days suffer from link sharing.
December 19th 2014, the last day then came. The problems were back to that of Day One, slow website, crashing and unable to enter. The hack seemed to have been fixed however the link sharing prevailed, with neither Sony or Game stepping in to moderate the comments with any degree of haste. The chances for true entrants again ruined. The twitter feed can be found here for this final day, and peoples’ outrage is now truly starting to show :
Playstation UK : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/545912279502716929 GAME UK : https://twitter.com/GAMEdigital/status/545912281100730368
Comments / queries and demands from people have been ignored by Sony / Playstation and Game throughout and are still being ignored.
Why the rage? It is simple, the majority of genuine users wanted to own a little piece of gaming history, a special edition from something that they grew up with but now can’t. In total there were so far 699 units made available to the UK, last night there were 113 active auctions for the consoles on ebay, this is ebay alone, and does not include the auctions that have already ended and other selling mediums. It seems the vast majority of winners are certainly not games / players!
The average current price on ebay sits around £1600, with some listed between £4000 – £6000 on a buy it now basis.
Game stated in their rules, one per customer, Instagram users have put up images of 3 units sitting under their Christmas tree boosting about the money they will make. Some ebay auctions have been with multiple units available, clearly this term and condition was not met. Also the rules stated that consoles will only be posted to the card holders registered address, how many cards and addresses to these ebay scammers have?
Instagram User Posts 3 : http://instagram.com/p/wwC-s3mL95/?modal=true
Further allegations were made that Game were cherry picking entries for winning, something which they have refused to comment on.
An allegation can be seen in this tweet : I have no idea whether they are true or not, but this is the only posting on twitter I could find which looks like a genuine fan may have got lucky but there are definite issues around the entry time she claims to have got from other users claiming to have entered the competition before her. Suggesting the first 100 rule has also be disregarded by Game.
Playstation also tweeted re their competition daily these tweets can be found here : (Again you will notice the lack of praise for the competition, and the lack of any winners coming forward to inform the thread of their success – which is highly strange in the gaming community – people like to share their victories)
DAY 1 : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/544547995170009090 DAY 2 : https://twitter.com/PlayStationUK/status/544913621004718082
DAY 3 : No tweet – Maybe the now established hack had something to do with it?
DAY 4 : No tweet.
DAY 5 : No tweet.
CAP_UK have been made aware of this incident by a number of unhappy users and complaints are in the process of being made.
The blogger who made his hack available also made a subsequent posting on his findings after the competition, this posting can be found here :
Basically he claims Sony did very little to combat his hack, one string of code would have been needed to be changed and it would have worked again on the last day. As far as link sharing goes he claims the entry website had no way of knowing if you came via the
Now the above user claims to be a fan of the system, when asked to sell one states,
‘depends buddy! I love them and they mean a lot to have. I suppose it would depend on
the price? What would you be willing to pay?’ he even names a price of £3000 – hardly fan
character map or not. Thus anyone using a shared link would have got through without issue and if within the top 100 (if that even existed) will qualify without question.
Whilst researching for this email I also found reddit users had been sharing the links each day within minutes, and they have also taken to voicing their opinions on how the competition was run :
Another unhappy user : http://www.reddit.com/r/PS4/comments/2ptj5x/ rant_about_the_uk_ps4_competition_for_a_20th/
And another : http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/2phkec/ the_20th_anniversary_ps4_is_a_complete_disaster/
These are just two of many many easily found examples.
But the purpose of my email to you is to inform you off the facts as a genuine gamer. To inform you on how this competition has been run, hacked and ruined by the inactions of Sony, Playstation and Game, and how eBay profiteers are now robbing people of 4-10 times the value of a console a few mere days after its release. This mere days before Christmas. To inform you how Game / Sony / Playstation have failed to address the complaints from their users and how their failure to take action when it was clear the system had been hacked has left genuine gamers out of pocket and or time. People, like me, invested time entering this competition, an entry that was destined to be useless and futile from the second the hack was available, and the fact that they did not invest in a website that could handle demand. This resulted in the hackers being on, registered and away back to the bar long before the genuine users had even gotten onto the competition site. Also how the competition (from the pop up store to the web competition) favoured the unemployed, as the timings for entries were all within ‘regular working hours.’ And how the failings of the website meant that for any users working ‘regular office hours’ had no chance of quickly entering the competition.
Sony / Playstation / Game should have ceased this competition as soon as it was known the site had been compromised and another alternative option sought.
Please give consideration to running with this story in your publication and at least letting consumers know how poorly these companies have done, how little they care for their customers, how little they are prepared to do in taking action against the cheaters and hackers and how they breached their own terms and conditions of the competition.
I like many others who have been let down by true this competition are true gamers, I am a 34 year old male who has been a Playstation and Sony Customer throughout their 20 years and really question if their commitment #4theplayers is even half of what they claim, maybe you and your publication can get answers one guy with a twitter account can not? I entered each and every day, ready to refresh on the start time and try to win fairly, but it is people like me who are let down. The people who did win are not Sony / Playstation Customers, they are scammers and cheats, but I suppose why would Sony / Game care, they get their money either way. Game as a Company, in my opinion should know better!
After all it isn’t that long ago they all but disappeared from the planet, it was only customer and gamer loyalty that brought them back. They would do well to remember that.
Thank you for your time, and taking the time to read this, I know it is quite long and drawn out but I wanted to ensure I gave all the facts I could along with an accurate time line.
Many thanks XXXXX XXXXXXX.
If you prefer you can download the file from here : https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=89A221ECF5D5F850!8426&ithint=file%2cpdf&app=WordPdf&authkey=!AK7Nocfi3M27gPA
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I am TomBoyNI, the owner, principle author and only editor of everything on this blog.
I am a road race loving, adventure motorcyclist, with a huge bit of techie built in. I like to learn and am currently trying to learn photography.
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