10th UPDATE, SUNDAY, 8:45 AM: It’s hard to pronounce the patient healed just yet, but Sony’s PlayStation Network this morning finally appears to moving past several days of heavy cyber assaults that left it mostly unaccessible to gamers – apparently distributed denial-of-service attacks that made it impossible for legitimate.

Sony is posting this on its main customer-service Twitter feed: “The PSN is gradually coming back online. Please try to sign in again. Any problems please let us know.”

Catherine Jensen, the VP Consumer Experience for Sony PlayStation unit SCEA, also updated her post from Saturday (see the initial post below). Now, she writes, the site is up:

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UPDATE: PlayStation Network is back online. As you probably know, PlayStation Network and some other gaming services were attacked over the holidays with artificially high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay. This may have prevented your access to the network and its services over the last few days.

Thanks again for your support and patience. We’ll provide any further updates here.

***

Complaints on DownDirector.com are still spiking occasionally, and are still above what might be considered a “normal” level, but are an order of magnitude below what was hitting the site beginning Christmas Eve. The attacks were claimed in a string of tweets by an anonymous hacker or group of hackers called Lizard Squad, who have previously attacked PSN multiple times. Logging on to the site and playing network-dependent games such as Destiny was possible for at least some gamers beginning Saturday late afternoon and evening.

Rival Microsoft’s Xbox Live network, which also was attacked by the same group but less consistently or successfully, also appears to be running, according to its status page and DownDirector.com

9TH UPDATE, SATURDAY, 1:48 PM: Sony has mostly stuck to tweeting updates on its PlayStation Network status via its support feed @askplaystation. But after saying this morning its PS3, PS4 and Vita network services were coming back online after three days of disruption due to a hacker attack, a human with a name has decided to weigh in on the company’s Playstation blog. From Catherine Jensen, Sony Computer Entertainment America VP Consumer Experience, who says you should blame the console you just got for Christmas for these past few days of problems:

The video game industry has been experiencing high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay. Multiple networks, including PSN, have been affected over the last 48 hours. PSN engineers are working hard to restore full network access and online gameplay as quickly as possible.

From time to time there may be disruptions in service due to surges in traffic, but our engineers will be working to restore service as quickly as possible.

If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console. We’ll continue to keep you posted on Twitter at @AskPlayStation and we’ll update this post once the problems subside.

Thanks again for your patience.

It’s been slow going for PSN since last night, though downdetector.com is in pretty good shape right now hovering around 20 complaints (those had spiked to around 9,300 last night).

Xbox Live, which has also been sporadically dealing with a DDoS attack, says its core services are back but is reporting limited social and gaming capabilities, meaning it is still having issues connecting gamers online for gameplay. They expect an update in the next half hour so stay tuned.

8th UPDATE, SATURDAY, 9:15 AM:  Sony tweeted overnight on its support account that “PS3, PS4 and Vita network services are gradually coming back online, thank you for your patience”, but issues clearly remain. There are some reports that glitches overnight were maintenance related, and by a rush of gamers eager to finally play their new consoles and games. Most recently, Sony noted that some users were experiencing sign-in issues on PS3 and PS4 and engineers were investigating the cause. Efforts to log in this morning onto the site, after succeeding last night during a window of availability, failed.

It’s important to note that there have been periodic breaks in the attacks over the past three days, with service appearing to be restored, only to go down again within a few hours. Latest reports of problems on downdetector.com are hovering around 4,100, down from last night, when complaints spiked from from nothing to around 9,300 at about 9 PM. Complaints have been growing steadily all morning other than a brief drop off.

Meanwhile, @LizardBesties – a Twitter feed for someone possibly connected with or at least supportive of Lizard Squad, the anonymous hackers claiming credit for the attacks – tweeted this morning, “@AskPlaystation how much longer.” That led to what is the new stock answer from PlayStation’s customer-service Twitter feed: “We’re aware that some users are experiencing sign-in issues on PS4 and PS3; engineers are investigating the cause.”

Meanwhile, Xbox Live, the competing gamer network from Microsoft, appears to be fully back online after its own, less severe outages that Lizard Squad also took credit for. A company status page says all core services are running, though three third-party apps that run on the network, including one for gamer site IGN.com, continue to have problems. DownDetector is reflecting less than 200 complaints, something around normal, particularly when adding a lot of new users after the holiday gift-giving days.

We’ll continue to monitor and update as circumstances evolve.

7TH UPDATE, FRIDAY 11:15 PM: So much for a return to service. While the PlayStation Network continues to function for some, as commenters and other indicators have (strongly) suggested, the online network for gamers has fallen back into the can’t-access limbo that has dogged it the past three days.

After a brief return to what appeared to be functionality, Sony is posting Tweets on its support lines that are again saying it’s performing maintenance and has ‘no ETA’ for a return to operations. The tweeted response for just about everybody is now “No ETA available yet, but our engineers are working to fix it as soon as possible, thank you for your patience.”

Complaints on DownDetector.com have also jumped back to high, though not peak, levels for PSN. Meanwhile, Xbox Live appears to be back in operation, though complaints against it on DownDetector remain heavy. The Xbox status page says the network is running all core services, with only a handful of problems affecting three apps.

6TH UPDATE, FRIDAY 8:38 PM: Sony’s PlayStation Network appeared to be back up at least partially and operating for a while, for at least some players, after three days of attacks by hackers that stymied eager fans from accessing the online gamer network during the Christmas holidays. Complaints about service were down substantially, but as our own comments show, some are still unable to access. How long that will last, as Sony continues to show that it’s performing maintenance and has ‘no ETA’ on return, still isn’t clear.

Xbox Live StatusMicrosoft’s Xbox Live service also appears to be operating at something closer to normal, though there are still quite a number of complaints about service coming in for both online gamer networks, according to system-monitoring site DownDetector.com.

Indeed, even Sony’s own Twitter feed is not yet declaring victory, telling inquirers that they have no ETA yet for restoration of service. But complaints were down dramatically on DownDetector for a while, and attempts to directly access the service on a PS4 game console were successful, something that couldn’t be said the past 60 hours or so with any reliability.

The attacks seem to have been distributed denial-of-service attacks, relatively unsophisticated attacks that bury a site with a flurry of thousands of false attempts to log on, making it difficult or impossible for legitimate users to get onto a site. That means some people may be able to get through all the fake requests for access and use the site. An anonymous hacker or group of hackers calling itself the Lizard Squad again took credit for the attacks in a series of tweets since Christmas Eve, but one of the most recent ones this evening said “the attacks are over.”

For fans eagerly waiting to play Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or Battlefield 4 on their new game consoles, it’s been an annoying three days. Whether the assault is finally done or is just going through another respite (as happened overnight for a couple of hours each night previously), isn’t known.

We’ll continue to monitor and update as circumstances evolve.

5TH UPDATE, FRIDAY, 1:50 PM: Microsoft’s Xbox is running a status page saying Xbox Live’s core services are back up, though it still is having issues with Purchase and Content Usage, watching live TV (just added that one), and a few apps appear to be having problems. Site monitor DownDirector.com is showing reports of complaints down dramatically in the past half hour or so.

Meanwhile, messages on Sony PlayStation Network’s are heading back into “no ETA” territory as that network remains paralyzed by an apparent DDoS attack beginning on Christmas Eve. The last Twitter update earlier this afternoon:

4TH UPDATE, FRIDAY, 8 AM: After another short overnight respite, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live online network again continue to be disrupted by what appear to be distributed denial-of-service attacks.

Sony hasn’t responded with anything new on Twitter through its main customer support feed, responding to most inquiries with either “We are aware that some users are unable to access at the moment. Our technicians are working to fix this issue,” or “There is no time frame at the moment, stay tune for updates.”

Xbox Live LogoMicrosoft’s Xbox Live, though not showing nearly as many complaints on system-monitoring site DownDetector.com, is also showing problems again after another short overnight break. We’ll continue to monitor as this plays out in Day 3 after the attacks, claimed by anonymous hacker group Lizard Squad, began late afternoon on Christmas Eve.

3rd UPDATE, THURSDAY, 6:20 PM: Sony just posted on one of its main Twitter feeds, acknowledging that the PlayStation Network continues to be offline and that it has “no ETA” for when the service will return to operation. Meanwhile, attacks appear to have renewed in the past two hours on Microsoft’s competing Xbox Live network.

Later Thursday Update: Five hours later, there has been little progress on the PSN front. “Our engineers are continuing to work hard to resolve the network issues users have experienced today,” AskPlayStation tweeted at 11:30 PM. “Thanks for your continued patience!”

The Internet-monitoring site DownDetector.com shows that there was a brief respite from the worst of the attack earlier this afternoon. The attacks started last night for several hours, eased off overnight and picked up again this morning. It appears to have picked back up again, and we’re seeing lots of complaints.

It’s likely another distributed denial-of-service attack (using a botnet to flood a site with tens of thousands of access requests, overwhelming servers), not the sort of hyper-sophisticated and in-depth attack that crippled Sony Pictures Entertainment last month. But Sony isn’t saying much as they deal with this, and gamers are getting frustrated.

There are also some Twitter posts by Lizard Squad, the anonymous hacker group that attacked Sony, offering Microsoft gift cards and selling Social Security numbers for two specific people for $500. The Microsoft competing online network Xbox Live was also down last night and has had some elevated levels of problems, but largely hasn’t been as crippled as PSN, at least until about two hours ago. According to DownDetector, complaints of service problems skyrocketed beginning around 4 PM ET and continue.

SeeTheInterview screen captureFor those just wanting to watch The Interview – the controversial film believed at the heart of the original Sony hacking attack and possibly connected to the Lizard Squad attacks as well – another Sony outlet, the stand-alone website seetheinterview.com, has managed to survive any attacks and is still making the film available to fans who want to watch it at home. That’s no consolation for gamers on PSN and Xbox Live who clearly, based on our voluminous comments, feel like collateral damage in this latest round of Christmastime assaults.

We’ll monitor as this goes on.

2ND UPDATE, THURSDAY, 5:20 PM: No official update from Sony’s PlayStation yet but things appear to be getting a little better as a number of PSN users tell Deadline that they have been able to get back online. The number of PSN problems detected by DownDetector.com dropped fivefold in the past hour, from over 5,000 to around 1,000. We will continue to monitor the situation.

UPDATE, THURSDAY, 9:18 AM: After recovering from a roughly six-hour outage last night, Sony’s PlayStation Network is back down again this morning, it appears. And the hacker collective claiming credit for the outage said it also has taken down rival Xbox Live network as well, though that couldn’t be verified.

PlayStation Network downdetector graphicComplaints logged at one system-monitoring company, DownDetector.com, show another big spike of problems on PSN, the online network, this morning. Attempts to access the network and the PlayStation Store directly also failed. (This is a graphic from downdetector.com.)

Sony’s PlayStation Twitter feed posted at 6:51 AM PT that, “We’re aware that some users are having issues logging into PSN – engineers are investigating.”

Xbox Live, the online network for video game archrival Microsoft, was spawning far fewer reports on DownDetector this morning after its own outage last night, but Lizard Squad, the anonymous hacker or group of hackers that claimed responsibility for the outages in posts on Twitter, said it had pulled down the Xbox network as well. DownDetector said problems spiked again this morning beginning at 7:47 AM PT.

The Xbox support Twitter feed was responding busily to lots of support issues but did not reflect an outage there.

PREVIOUSLY, WEDNESDAY, 7:46 PM: The PlayStation Network was down beginning in late afternoon, as attempts to access the site returned error messages that the network was down. A check of Internet monitoring sites showed thousands of complaints.

The hackers who attacked PlayStation parent Sony Pictures Entertainment last month had promised a “Christmas gift” if the company proceeded with the release of movie The Interview, which has been made available online ahead of a limited theatrical release, which starts tomorrow. PSN’s latest troubles might be related to the SPE hack. Business Insider was reporting that Microsoft’ Xbox Live network, which is selling/renting The Interview on demand, also was down. An anonymous hacker group called Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the outages in posts on Twitter. Lizard Squad also claimed credit for distributed denial-of-service attacks on the PlayStation Network in August and again earlier this month.