Content of the article: "Does anyone remember the ‘fixed’ competition for the chance to buy a 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4?"
Sony and Playstation opened a Pop Up Store in London on Wednesday 10th December 2014, to sell 94 20th Anniversary Consoles for the 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. This meant that 194 units of the UKs allocation were all instantly sold to London. This outraged fans, it showed all across twitter.
#Playstation UK’s Tweets announcement about the Pop Up Store
#Playstation UK’s Tweets about the Pop Up Store and Availability
#Playstation UK's Tweets about the console availability from 15/12/2014
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 the character after the clue, you would be taken to a ‘secret’ registration page to register your wish to buy a console. This was not a chance to win, this was just to enable you to hand Sony & Game £399 for a console.
the map can still be viewed here via WayBackMachine.
On 15-19 December 2014 Playstation UK and Game UK ran a competition for the first 100 correct entries to this competition got a chance to buy a 20th Anniversary Edition of the console at full price (£399). A chance to buy one of only 13,500 globally, making this console extremely rare.
Monday 15th December 2014 came and the clue was tweeted by Playstation and Game UK, and the website didn't respond. The website couldn’t cope with the high 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. Some people were getting through the registration process, but it was then that the link sharing started. Twitter users where openly sharing the links on the Playstation and Game twitter feeds, 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.
The servers did seem to be a bit faster, however it transpires that at some stage during 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
Dean Wild a programmer who was disillusioned and frustrated at the mess Sony had made of the competition after he found out on Twitter about players bypassing the GAME's rules. He explained the workings of the competition website and how it could be hacked. Dean then released his program to the internet community on Wednesday evening in an attempt to both draw Sony’s attention to their poor technology and approach to the competition as well as “level the playing field”. he even packaged the 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. Dean tweeted on Thursday morning that he had over 1,000 downloads of the exploit program before the start of Thursday’s competition at 8am.
Obviously it goes without saying that entering the competition on Wednesday 17th December 2014. The website 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.
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 GAME's 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.
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 suffered 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.
a lot of the units were listed on eBay Instantly, the average current price on ebay sits around £1600. ith some listed between £4000 – £6000 on a buy it now basis.
Game stated in their rules, one per customer, but 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?
Proof that these terms were not met, an Instagram user posts 3 units on his profile: User Kyeee's Post
along with screenshots of comments on his post
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