Sony details this week’s limited PSN and Qriocity return, ‘Welcome Back’ program

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Sony boss Kaz Hirai stepped in front of a room full of journalists last night (by our clock in North America) to address the ongoing PlayStation Network and Qriocity service outage that has left 77 million people without access after their personal data was compromised by a hacker or hackers. Hirai laid out some of the company’s plans for relaunching the online services in his address, and those plans have now been further detailed in a PlayStation Blog update.

The online return is classified as a “phased restoration by region,” with gaming, music and video services to be turned on first. The first features you can expect to see return include “but [are] not limited to”: the return of online gameplay for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable games (including those that require online verification), access to Qriocity on the PS3/PSP for existing subscribers, account management and password reset features, access to unexpired movie rentals, PlayStation Home, friends lists and chat functionality. While gamers will certainly be happy to get back to playing online, the return of account management and password reset features are what everyone ought to be most excited about.

Network security has been updated as well, as Hirai mentioned in his address. The system’s data center will soon be moved to a new, more secure location, one that has apparently been under construction “for several months.” The PS3 will be getting a forced system update which will require all users to change their passwords. As an added layer of security, password changes will only be possible using the console the account was originally created on. If you’ve at any point gotten a new PS3, you’ll have to opt for validated e-mail confirmation instead.

Sony also detailed its “Welcome Back” Appreciation Program, a goodwill gift to customers that serves “as an expression of the company’s appreciation for [customers’] patience, support and continued loyalty.” The program is set to launch worldwide, but the fine points will vary by region. “Selected PlayStation entertainment content” will be free for download and all PSN subscribers will receive 30 days of free membership to the PlayStation Plus premium service. Existing PS Plus and Qriocity subscribers will receive 30 days of free service.

Sony plans to offer more with this “Welcome Back” program as well, to be “rolled out over the coming weeks” as additional services come back online. The company has also promised to “assist users in enrolling in identity theft protection services and/or similar programs” should credit card fraud become an issue. Details of this offering will be coming “shortly in each region” and will be implemented “at a local level.”

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