It seems the rumour mill was right - Microsoft is going to offer the eight million Xbox Live Gold subscribers worldwide a little something to say sorry.

According to a statement from Live's general manager Marc Whitten, outages over the Christmas period were caused not by hackers but by a massive surge in users and new sign-ups.

Some subscribers claim to have missed up to a week of their service as they were unable to sign into the online games while others experienced issues accessing their online accounts.

But Microsoft has held its hands up to the problem.

In a letter to Xbox Live members, Whitten said: "During this past holiday season you helped us break a number of Xbox Live records. This included our largest sign-up of new members to Xbox Live in our five year history and just yesterday you broke the record for the single biggest day of concurrent members ever on the service".

"While the service was not completely offline at any given time, we are disappointed in our performance. I would like to take this moment to thank you each and every one of you for your patience and understanding as our team has worked around the clock to return the service to a stable state."

Microsoft is now offering all of Xbox Live members around the world access to a full Xbox Live Arcade game that will be available to download free of charge to say sorry.

We will have full details of what you can expect in the coming weeks.