Earlier this week, Sony promised it would "fully" restore the PlayStation Network by the end of the month. Today, the company took the first step in that process, announcing that the PSN will be brought back online today as part of a "phased" return. Sony Online Entertainment, Sony's massively multiplayer service, will also be coming back as part of the process.
"The restoration of the services across the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Middle East are beginning, and consumers will be able to enjoy some of the online functionality provided by both the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services," the company announced in a statement. "Phased restoration in Japan and other Asian countries and regions will be announced in due course." The first phase of the restoration includes online gameplay and chat functionality, but the PlayStation Store will remain offline for now. Third-party services such as Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu will also be back online.
Kaz Hirai, deputy vice president of Sony Corp., also apologized about the prolonged outage. "I'd like to send my sincere regret for the inconvenience this incident has caused you, and want to thank you all for the kind patience you've shown as we worked through the restoration process. I can't thank you enough for your patience and support during this time. We know even the most loyal customers have been frustrated by this process and are anxious to use their Sony products and services again. We are taking aggressive action at all levels to address the concerns that were raised by this incident, and are making consumer data protection a full-time, company wide commitment."
Sony also said that it had implemented new security measures as part of the PSN overhaul. As part of the process, the company has implemented a new firmware update (v3.61) that requires users to change their passwords. Sony has since posted FAQs on resetting passwords and on the PSN restoration as a whole.
Today's announcement comes more than three weeks after the PSN first went offline on the evening of April 20. The following Tuesday, the company confirmed there had been a data breach, but it said some PSN services would be up within a week. Then, on April 30, the company announced it would give PSN users free content to make up for the outage and promised the network would be back online within the following week.
Last Wednesday, the company submitted a detailed timeline of the attack to the US Congress--the day before a cybersecurity expert claimed Sony knew the PSN's security software was outdated. The day after, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer offered an apology for the prolonged delay, and the company unveiled a free identity-theft protection program with $1 million worth of insurance for each customer.