Playstation Network Goes Back Online at Long Last

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PS3 owners, our long national nightmare is finally over. On Saturday May 14th, Sony exec Kaz Hirai delivered a video address that announced that Sony would be beginning a gradual roll-out of restoration for their Playstation Network and Qriocity services. (In a separate statement, the Sony Online Entertainment division also announced that they’d be initiating a gradual restoration, too.)

Users for PlayStation Network will be required to download a mandatory firmware update and change their passwords before they can log on to PSN again. Access to most of the entertainment content available through the PS3–like Hulu, Vudu and MLB–will be restored again. Hirai’s remarks indicate that e-commerce functionality of PSN and Qriocity aren’t back yet but will be coming back soon. As previously reported, Sony will be offering identity theft protection for U.S. PSN users.

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A map on the official Playstation blog will be updating live with regions who’ve gotten service back. I can say from personal experience that, even though New York appears to be back online, the update data took me a while to download after three tries.

Still, it’s good to stop seeing that error message every time I turn on my PS3. The Playstation Network’s been down for nearly a month, with Sony’s first official acknowledgement of a problem coming on April 20th. Days later, the consumer electronics giant revealed that an “external intrusion” led them to shut down the network, followed by the admission that PSN users may have had personal info and credit card data compromised. But, for many hardcore gamers, the worst of it was simply being unable to go online and play the games that they loved.

Both the Playstation division and SOE have promised welcome back rewards for formerly locked-out users and further details about what PS3 owners will be getting for their troubles is expected. In his comments, Hirai wisely notes that no security standard’s ever going to 100% impenetrable. Here’s hoping that Sony’s upgrades will be up to the task.