Sony PSN online play is live again, store still down [Updated]

Sony relaunched its PlayStation Network over the weekend, slowly but surely restoring the online service throughout Europe and North America. Despite some technical hiccups caused by an overwhelming number of gamers attempting to log-in simultaneously, prompting Sony to “clear the queue” with a voluntary 30-minute shutdown, the PSN is now available – mostly. The PSN store is still unavailable, and the company has yet to specify a date on just when it will return.

Eric Lempel, Sony Network Entertainment’s Vice President, announced on May14th that firmware 3.61 was available for PS3 owners. The required update allowed users to change their PSN ID passwords.

Later that day, Kazuo Hirai spoke to gamers in a video. The Executive Deputy President apologized (once again) to customers, confirmed that online gameplay for PS3 was back and promised all other services including the storefront would be reintegrated “as soon as possible.” Hirai also said Sony would do “everything we can” to make amends for the delayed outage and security breach, both of which affected tens of millions of gamers worldwide.

To that end, Hirai outlined improvements that resulted from “an intensive investigation” into how to best safe-guard users’ information. Advanced security, more encryption, new firewalls and a server-side detection system that would recognize potential attacks were among the behind-the-scenes alterations.

Gamers who are unconcerned with the nitty-gritty details and just want to know which free games Sony will offer, however, may have to wait a few more days. Considering the over three-week long outage, patience is one virtue most PlayStation 3 gamers are now well-versed in.

[Update]: Dow Jones Newswires reported today that Sony’s re-launch of the PlayStation Network has yet to be approved in the company’s home country of Japan. The government is requesting more information on just how the service is better secured against possible future attacks and what Sony will do to rebuild its standing with customers before it green-lights the service’s restoration.

Have you jumped back online with your PS3 yet? Let us know the first thing you did (besides change your password) in the comment section.