Although Sony's public approach to hackers and modders is one of stern disapproval, behind the scenes it appears to be a different story - with company human resource operatives looking to hire members of the dark side.
Sony has good reason to mistrust the hacking community: since the company removed the Other OS feature of its flagship PlayStation 3 console, the community has worked to break the digital rights management platform that prevents the functionality being restored - attempts which culminated in the publishing of Sony's private signing key, opening the door for jailbroken consoles and easy piracy.
Since then, Sony has been litigating like crazy to prevent details of the crack spreading - but, like Pandora's box, it's an impossible thing to reverse. Attempts to fix the problem with firmware updates have also failed, with the news breaking today via PSX-Scene that the latest firmware - version 3.60 - has also fallen prey to the modding community.
To fight back, Sony is clearly of the opinion that it needs to start thinking differently - and has allegedly taken the old saying about setting a thief to catch a thief to heart, attempting to recruit hackers into its PlayStation division.
That's the claim reported by MSNBC, which quotes an alleged e-mail exchange between high-profile hacker Koushik Dutta and an alleged recruiter for Sony Computer Entertainment America called Sarah McRae. While Dutta has posted a screen capture of the e-mails, it's hard to verify their legitimacy.
In the alleged exchange, McRae explained that she works for Sony's euphemistically-named 'Talent Acquisition Department.' "We came across your blog," she told Dutta, "and thought we'd reach out to you to see if you'd ever be interested in exploring opportunities with us here at SCEA. I am in the process of opening a Software Engineer role within our R&D team and you may be a good fit."
Dutta's response to the e-mail is short and not entirely sweet. "I appreciate that you reached out to me," Dutta replied, "[and] the opportunity does sound very interesting. However, due [to] Sony's recent treatment of a fellow hacker, George Hotz, I could not in good conscience work at Sony."
Thus far, attempts to verify the legitimacy of the e-mails have failed: Sony's press department has failed to respond to our queries, and an e-mail directly to Ms. McRae elicited no reaction - although it also didn't bounce, suggesting that there is indeed an employee of SCEA answering to that name.
Should we hear back from Sony, we will update you accordingly.