Sony’s PSN store is back online, free ‘Welcome Back’ content is not [Update]

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Sony’s PlayStation Network is now back to its old self across the world, barring a handful of regions.

Late Wednesday night Sony announced on its official U.S. blog that the PlayStation Network storefront, which had been down since April 20th, was back online and brimming with over a month’s worth of new content. Shortly after on Thursday, the company’s official European blog revealed the store was also live in that region. No word yet on when Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, which saw the PSN back in rudimentary form just last week, would regain full access.

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Sony's PSN store is back online, free 'Welcome Back' content is not [Update]

One caveat to the good news is that the free games promised as part of Sony’s “Welcome Back” program are still MIA. Grace Chen, Director of the PlayStation Store, said that the five PS3 titles included in the offer are “in the final stages of testing.” No release date was specified, though Chen promised the next store update would be this Friday.

Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President of Sony, stated in early May during a press conference in Japan that it could take all month to return the service to its former glory. The company missed its own stated deadline by a single day.

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The store’s revival comes not a day too soon. With the video game industry’s biggest event of the year – E3 – beginning next week on June 7th, Sony dodged a bullet. Without the PSN store, the company would have had no way to offer any new demos, exclusive trailers or miscellaneous downloadable content to its customers – all of which Sony promises will be available during the expo.

[UPDATE]: On Friday Sony announced that the “Welcome Back” package is available. PlayStation 3 owners can now download two free games from a list of five, while PSP owners may select two titles from a list of four. Those who qualify for the freebies (i.e. PSN members prior to the April 20th shutdown) have until July 3rd to take advantage of the offer. A complete rundown of the program is available for North American residents here. Europeans can find further details here.

What’s the first thing you plan to download and/or purchase through the PSN store? Or has the whole debacle left a bad taste in your mouth in regards to buying content through a gaming console? Either way, share your thoughts in the comment section.

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