Late on Saturday evening Sony offered PlayStation 3 users the news they've been waiting for, for weeks - they relaunched the PlayStation Network.
To access the PlayStation Network, PlayStation users must first download a new firmware update, version 3.61. Instructions have been posted to the official PlayStation blog by Sony VP Eric Lempel:
"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."
Sony noted in a statement that PlayStation Network services are being phased in gradually.
"The process has begun and some states are being turned on now, so please be patient as we reach your city and state."
Sony has posted a map that shows users where the PlayStation Network has been activated, and asks for patience. "It can take a little while for the servers to populate fully."
Sony took the PlayStation Network offline in April after the company discovered that a hacker or hackers had broken into the system and copied personal information on tens of millions of PlayStation Network users. Later the company discovered that the same thing happened to Sony Online Entertainment, its online role-playing game service, exposing personal information on tens of millions of additional users.
The news comes only a few days after several sources noted that frustrated PlayStation 3 users were trading in their systems for cash or Xbox 360s, and that resale prices for used PS3 games were falling.
In related news, Sony Online Entertainment is also coming back online in phases.
Sony Computer Entertainment America chairman Kazuo Hirai offers further details about the restoration of PlayStation Network services in a video posted to Sony's official PlayStation blog.