Sony has begun a phased restoration of it’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity on Sunday in the US and the UK.

The phased restoration will be on a country by country basis beginning in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Middle East, however not all services will returning straight away Sony has said.

The first phase of restored services for these countries and regions will include:

- Sign-in for PlayStation Network and Qriocity services, including the resetting of passwords

- Restoration of online game-play across PS3 and PSP

- Playback rental video content, if within rental period, of PlayStation Network Video Delivery Service on PS3, PSP and MediaGo

- Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity, for current subscribers, on PS3 and PC

- Access to 3rd party services such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and

- 'Friends' category on PS3, including Friends List, Chat Functionality, Trophy Comparison, etc

- PlayStation Home

However gamers will not get access to the company’s PlayStation Store to buy games as Sony continues to improve the security of the store.

ps3 3 61 update brings back psn online gaming image 2

“Today is phase one of PSN coming back online, which includes features such as online gaming. The store will be part of phase two, which will be a little longer I’m afraid. As soon as we know when we can bring it back online, we will let you know here on the blog,” confirmed Sony’s Nick Caplin, head of communications at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

For gamers to get access to online gaming on their PS3, they will have to first download the new 3.61 update for the PS3 issued by Sony and change their password to continue.

Until you get the 3.61 update you won’t be able to play online.

Sony says that since the breach, that saw hackers gain the personal details of its 77 million users, it has made a number of enhancements so the same doesn’t happen again.

"I'd like to send my sincere regret for the inconvenience this incident has caused you, and want to thank you all for the kind patience you've shown as we worked through the restoration process," said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation.  "I can't thank you enough for your patience and support during this time. We know even the most loyal customers have been frustrated by this process and are anxious to use their Sony products and services again. We are taking aggressive action at all levels to address the concerns that were raised by this incident, and are making consumer data protection a full-time, company wide commitment.

"While we understand the importance of getting our services back online, we did not rush to do so at the expense of extensively and aggressively testing our enhanced security measures. Our consumers' safety remains our number one priority," Hirai continued. "We want to assure our customers that their personal information is being protected with some of the best security technologies available today, so that everyone can feel comfortable enjoying all that PlayStation Network and Qriocity services have to offer."  

Phased restoration in Japan and other Asian countries and regions will be announced in due course.  

The company expects to have the services fully restored by the end of May 2011.  

The company will be offering customers a "Welcome Back" package of services and premium content to all registered PlayStation Network and Qriocity account services, however hasn't said what it will include. 

Sony will hope the roll-out not only goes smoothly, but rules a line under the all the problems that has dogged them for the last month. 

Reports are already starting to eek out that gamers are starting to trade in the PlayStation 3 consoles for Xbox 360's in the UK. 

Edge magazine reports that sources have indicated "a growing trend of PS3 consoles being traded in for cash or Xbox 360s, slumping sales of PSN points cards and a shift in the ratio of multiplatform game sales and pre-orders away from PS3."