PlayStation Network revived: What you need to know

With the PlayStation Network up and running once again, gamers jonesing for some “Call of Duty: Black Ops” multiplayer action or the chance to truly break in their copy of “Socom 4” are finally able to scratch that itch. Kaz hirai-psn

But the relaunch of the system is only a partial one – and there are still plenty of questions floating around about what’s next. Here’s where things stand:

Is the PSN fully available? – Not entirely. While partial service, letting people play online and use third party services, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, has been restored, some functionality, like the PlayStation Store, has not. That means independent developers, who rely on the service to sell games, are still taking a hit.

And while PSN service is now available in the United States and Europe, officials in Japan are not allowing the company to relaunch the system due to security concerns.

“As of May 13, Sony was incomplete in exercising measures that they said they will do on the May 1 press conference,” Kazushige Nobutani, Japan’s director of media and content in the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry told Dow Jones

Sony’s working to assure government officials there that the security enhancements it has made in rebuilding the system are more than sufficient.

What’s the company doing to protect my data? – As you might expect, Sony’s not giving a lot of details about what sort of back-end changes it made in its rebuilding of the Network. (Doing so may only invite another attack.) However, users will be required to update their operating system and change their password before they’re able to go back online.

Sony has talked about a “Welcome Back” package for users. What’s the latest on that? – Users in different worldwide regions will receive different incentives, but there are a few things everyone will get. These include 30 free days of PlayStation Plus service (or 30 days added to existing accounts) and 30 free days the Music Unlimited service for Qriocity subscribers. Officials at Sony Europe have announced users there will get free games as well, something Sony Computer Entertainment America is likely to match. The company says it will detail the “Welcome Back” package in the coming days.

Are they any closer to knowing who did it? – Sony hasn’t offered any update on this, since its finger pointing at the decentralized hacker group Anonymous on May 4. Again, the lack of information is not surprising, since this is an ongoing federal investigation. To date, though, there have been no arrests.

Can I play EverQuest or DC Universe again? – Yup! Sony Online Entertainment is back online as well now. Users of that service are also required to change their password before they’ll be allowed to play.

What took so long? – Because the data breach was so severe and so sophisticated, Sony had to essentially rewrite the code for the PlayStation Network, Qriocity music service and Sony Online Entertainment servers. While users were certainly clamoring for the services to get back up and running, Sony wanted to carefully test the system before reopening it, since if another breach occurs, it could be devastating to consumer confidence in the company.

“We felt that we owed it you to fully verify the security of the networks before restoring our services,” said Kazuo Hirai, Sony’ executive deputy president in a video message to users.