Sony Corp. began a limited and phased restoration of its PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment videogame services Saturday, bringing the company a step closer to normalcy following an attack on its systems that compromised personal information for more than 100 million user accounts last month.
The Japanese electronics giant said that following the release of a mandatory software upgrade for all PlayStation 3 videogame console units, it would begin bringing its PlayStation Network back online in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East. The network will be limited at first, the company said, restoring Internet-based game play, movie rentals, music services and online video streaming through companies like Netflix Inc.
Sony said some customers will be able to regain access on Saturday. Full service should be restored by the end of the month, the company added.
"We know even the most loyal customers have been frustrated by this process and are anxious to use their Sony products and services again," Kazuo Hirai, head of Sony's game division, said in a statement. "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."
The intrusion, which occurred last month, led to the theft of names, addresses, passwords and possibly credit card numbers from its PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment gaming services. Sony shut down both services as it investigated the attack, which the company said was highly sophisticated.
The events led to multiple inquiries from Congress and several lawsuits against the game maker, which has been producing videogame consoles for nearly two decades. Sony's brand image also took a hit, according to surveys by YouGov's BrandIndex, dropping significantly following the shutdown and subsequent revelations of the data breach.
Sony has said it will provide its customers with free identity-theft services for a year, including a $1 million insurance policy.
As part of the phased restoration, Sony said all PlayStation 3 customers will need to download a security patch before regaining access to the online gaming services. As a precaution, Sony said customers will be required to change their passwords when they first log back into the systems.
Sony will also be offering "welcome back" packages, including access to otherwise limited content and other freebies in attempts to appease frustrated users