Sony PlayStation Network's post-hack freebies now available

After the service outage, PlayStation Network subscribers get as many as four free games

Sony has made a promised "Welcome Back" promotion available to PlayStation Network users who lost access to the company's online gaming service, some for more than a month.

The promotion is available to any member who'd signed up for services prior to the April 20 outage. They get to keep four free games: two for the PlayStation 3 system and two for PlayStation Portable. They also get 100 virtual items in PlayStation Home, the company's virtual world, as well as free movies, available over the June 3 weekend.

PlayStation Network users get 30 days access to the premium PlayStation Plus Network. PlayStation Plus subscribers get 60 days free service automatically added to their plans.

More than 77 million PlayStation Network users had their personal information compromised during the incident. Sony has pegged the price tag for the data breach at about US$170 million.

The consumer electronics giant is struggling to repair its public image after taking a serious beating over the past two months at the hands of hackers. Its websites have been repeatedly broken into with customer e-mail addresses and passwords posted online. On Thursday -- the same day the company found itself facing hard questions during a hearing before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee -- a hacking group calling itself LulzSec said it had obtained more than 1 million customer e-mail addresses and passwords.

Hackers are angry with Sony because of the harsh techniques the company has used to prevent unauthorized hacking of its PlayStation machines. Earlier this year it sued hacker George Hotz to prevent him from developing techniques to run unauthorized software such as Linux on the PlayStation.

Sony began restoring the PlayStation network in the U.S. in mid-May, nearly a month after the outage. However, it still hasn't restored service worldwide.

The Welcome Back promotion will be available for a month, so users who haven't claimed their prizes by July 4 will be out of luck.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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