Sony on Tuesday announced that it will fully restore all PlayStation Network services in the US, Europe and parts of Asia by the end of the week. The "Music Unlimited" streaming service from Qriocity will also resume for PS3, PSP and PC users.
Full service for Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea is still up in the air; Sony said that details for those areas will be announced as they become available. Some services came back online in Japan this past weekend.
Multiplayer gaming for PSN has already been restored, but other services including access to the PlayStation Store have been offline, ever since Sony brought PSN back online following a hacker attack in April. The first phase of the network reboot began on May 15, 2011.
Sony claims to have "implemented considerable security enhancements to the network infrastructure, as well as conducted testing of the payment process and commerce functions."
In April a hacker or hackers overcame Sony's security to gain access to more than 100 million user accounts and the personal information therein. No one has claimed responsibility for the break-in, though in a letter delivered to a U.S. Congressional subcommittee, Sony Computer Entertainment president Kazuo Hirai implicated "Anonymous."
"Anonymous" is a loose hacker collective which sought retribution against Sony earlier this year for court proceedings against George "Geohot" Hotz, a programmer who had sought to restore the PlayStation 3's ability to install a Linux operating system variant. But according to the information offered at the time, Anonymous' coordinators sought to disrupt Sony services through a denial of service attack, rather than an attempt to steal PSN user data.
In addition to PlayStation Store access, full service means users will be able to use in-game commerce; vouchers and codes should work; and the "Media Go" video and audio player should work again.
It behooves Sony to get the PlayStation Store and other PSN-related services online before the weekend is up. Next week marks one of the biggest events in video gaming: E3 Expo in Los Angeles, an annual game industry trade show where Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and other big players gather to show off their latest hardware, forthcoming games and more. Sony is expected to use E3 to officially unveil the NGP, its next generation PlayStation Portable handheld console, when it holds a press conference on Monday, June 6.
After the PlayStation Store is back online, PSN users eligible to download free games and service as part of Sony's "Welcome Back" package should be able to do so.
There was a glimmer of hope that the PlayStation Store would be back online earlier this month after a confidential Sony memo leaked which suggested a May 24th date; Sony later discounted that communication, indicating the date was still in flux.