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Sony announces PSN Welcome Back program, includes free games

PlayStation Network logoAs the cogs of the massive PlayStation Network begin to slowly grind back into action, you might catch a whiff of an odd odour in the air. No, it’s not the smell of burning cobwebs being mangled in the machinery as it cranks into operation after a lengthy lay-off; it’s the smell of fear from executives at Sony as they look nervously toward the future.

No doubt there are two things on their minds just now. First, they’ll be sweating over the new security system, wondering if it’s strong enough to keep hackers out. And second, their knees may well be knocking as they wait to see how many PlayStation gamers have deserted them for pastures new.

On Monday, following a month-long outage of the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services after a massive data breach in April, Sony began the process of restoring services.

Later in the day came a long-awaited post on Sony’s PlayStation blog giving information about the Welcome Back appreciation program for gamers who are seemingly so loyal that it would take a  lot more than the inconvenience of having their personal details stolen by hackers to shake their confidence in the gaming giant.

The appreciation program will be available “shortly after we have fully restored the service” and relates to PlayStation Network and Qriocity customers in North America. As part of the program, Sony is offering free games and movie rentals.

Two games can be chosen by PlayStation Network customers from a list of five (Dead Nation, inFAMOUS, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD, Wipeout HD + Fury) and will, according to the post, “be available for 30 days shortly after PlayStation Store is restored and can be kept forever.”

PSP owners can also choose two games, from: LittleBigPlanet (PSP), ModNation Racers, Pursuit Force and Killzone Liberation.

The post also lists other inducements designed to smooth things over with disgruntled users:

  • A selection of “On Us” rental movie titles will be available to PlayStation Network customers over one weekend, where Video Service is available.
  • 30 days free PlayStation Plus membership for non PlayStation Plus subscribers.
  • Existing PlayStation Plus subscribers will receive an additional 60 days of free subscription.
  • Existing Music Unlimited Premium Trial subscription members will receive an additional 30 days of free premium subscription.
  • Additional 30 days + time lost for existing members of Music Unlimited Premium/Basic subscription free of charge for existing Premium/Basic members.
  • To welcome users Home, PlayStation Home will be offering 100 free virtual items. Additional free content will be released soon, including the next addition to the Home Mansion personal space, and Ooblag’s Alien Casino, an exclusive game.

In the post, Sony gave thanks to a long list of publishers and development partners in helping it to put together the Welcome Back program. “We couldn’t have created such a compelling package without them!” the company said.

Welcome Back programs have also been put together for users in Europe and Latin America. Gamers in Japan, home to Sony, are still waiting for services to be restored while the Japanese electronics company tries to convince the government that its networks are now secure.

So, how about the Welcome Back program? Does it fall short of what you expected, or does it put a smile on your face as wide as the PlayStation console itself?