Players hoping to play a multiplayer game on their PlayStation 3 haven't been able to do so reliably for several days – and for the past three days, they haven't been able to do so at all. Psn-logo

The PlayStation Network – the console's online service – has gone down and at present, no one seems to know when it's coming back. Sony, in a blog update about the outage yesterday, said it was investigating the cause, but "it may be a full day or two before we’re able to get the service completely back up and running." Since then, the company has remained silent.

Problems with the network were first acknowledged by Sony at 8:50 p.m. ET on Wednesday. No reason has been given for the disruption, but a post on the European PlayStation blog (which has since been removed) hinted an external attack could be at fault.

Sony has been the target of the hacking group Anonymous for a while, due to its legal fight with PS3 hacker George Hotz. The group announced last week that even though Hotz and Sony had settled their dispute, it did not plan to relent.

A network outage of this sort is embarrassing and frustrating for Sony, but it's not quite the disaster it would be had this happened with Microsoft. PlayStation owners have free access to multiplayer games on the PS3, while Xbox 360 owners must pay a $60 annual subscription fee to access those (and other online) features.

Update: Friday evening, Sony confirmed via its blog that the outage is due to an external attack. 

Sony spokesperson Patrick Seybold wrote “An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th. Providing quality entertainment services to our customers and partners is our utmost priority. We are doing all we can to resolve this situation quickly, and we once again thank you for your patience. We will continue to update you promptly as we have additional information to share.”

The hacker group Anonymous has denied responsibility for the attack.

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