Sony turning PlayStation Network online

Download firmware 3.61 now.

UPDATE: Having trouble downloading the firmware through your PlayStation 3? Grab it from Sony's website instead.

ORIGINAL STORY: Sign in to the PlayStation Network now and you'll be asked to download new firmware and change your password.

PSN has been offline since 20th April following the security breach that left personal information tied to some 77 million user accounts compromised and the details of around 12.3 million credit card possibly stolen.

Sony hopes to make online gaming available from 1am, Eurogamer understands.

Sony's update in full:

"We have been working on a new PS3 system software update that requires all PSN users to change their password once PlayStation Network is restored. The update (v3.61) is mandatory and will be available soon.

"If using a PS3, your password can only be changed on your own PS3 (or a PS3 on which your PSN account was activated), as an added layer of security. If you have never downloaded any content using your account on the system, an email will be sent to the registered sign-in ID (email address) associated with your account when you first attempt to sign-in to PSN. This e-mail will contain a link that will enable you to change your password. In this email, click on the link and follow the instructions to change your password. Once you have changed your password you can sign-in to your account using your new password.

"We strongly recommend that all PSN account holders with PS3s update their systems to prepare for when PlayStation Network is back online. The release of this update is a critical step as we work to make PlayStation Network significantly more secure. Thank you for your continued support and patience."

The return of online matchmaking is the first step in the full restoration of the PSN.

For Sony it has come not a moment too soon. While PSN has been down gamers have been unable to buy downloadable content, add-ons, virtual items or full games.

Sony turned PSN off in the week of Portal 2's release, preventing PS3 owners from playing online with PC and Mac owners - a hotly anticipated, console exclusive feature.

Resident Evil maker Capcom has said the breach has cost it "hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue".

However, some developers are confident Sony will emerge from perhaps its most troubling crisis unscathed.

The full impact of the downtime will not be known until Sony issues its next financial report. Some analysts have estimated the outage will cost Sony billions of dollars, and warned that consumer confidence in the brand and PSN will be severely dented.

Sony faces a tough rebuilding job, and it remains in hot water with authorities both at home and abroad.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office, the independent watchdog set up to make sure companies adequately protect our data, is in talks with Sony to determine whether the Japanese company was in breach of the Data Protection Act. If found guilty it faces a fine of up to half a million pounds.

Sony boss Howard Stringer has personally apologised for the PSN breach, and blamed the time it took to notify gamers that their personal data was at risk on the complexity of forensic analysis.

Sony is working with the FBI and other authorities to track down the hackers. It has accused Anonymous of playing a part in the hack, although the group's leadership has denied this.

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