A shopper walks on the logo of Sony's PlayStation 4 at an electronics store in Tokyo. Sony's online PlayStation store and Microsoft's Xbox site suffered disruptions to users on Christmas Day in the latest possible cyber-attacks on the companies. (Photo: AP)
The online gaming networks for Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox consoles -- hot gifts this Christmas -- went dark in what hackers said was a coordinated attack.
The disruption started Christmas Day and went into Friday, PlayStation and Xbox said on their Twitter feeds, adding that they were working to restore service.
A subsequent message posted to the Xbox status page early Friday upgraded service to "limited" -- a sign that support teams were making inroads in fixing the problem.
A new Twitter user going by the name "Lizard Squad" took credit for the disruption, claiming it had the "nation on strings."
The name is the same used by a group of hackers that has targeted Sony in the past, though it was not possible to verify the Twitter account's authenticity. The account did not return request for comment and only became active Wednesday.
Sony this month was hit by a sophisticated hacking attack that stole massive amounts of data from its servers. The US has blamed North Korea for the attack, with the hermit state seen as furious at the release of a Sony movie comedy, "The Interview", which parodies leader Kim Jong-Un.
After initially canceling the December 25 release of "The Interview", Sony backtracked and brought it out in a few US theaters and made it available online -- including through the Xbox console and, soon, the PlayStation.
Sony's @PlayStation Twitter account said Friday: "We're aware that some users are having issues logging into PSN - engineers are investigating."
Its @AskPlayStation Twitter account wrote early Friday, a day after the difficulties began: "Our engineers are continuing to work hard to resolve the network issues users have experienced today. Thanks for your continued patience!"
Meanwhile, Microsoft on a site for its Xbox customers pleaded with its game fans to be patient.
"We're aware of this issue, and we're working to find a fix ASAP! We appreciate your patience in the meantime, and we encourage you to retry signing in when you get a chance. We'll update you as soon as we know more," the message said.
While a direct connection between "The Interview" and the service disruptions could not be confirmed, some gamers were convinced a link exists.
"I blame that darn movie 'The Interview'," wrote as2009man on a PlayStation community forum message board.
"It's the gift that keeps on giving," he said.
Another poster to the same forum said he was getting fed up with the game world's vulnerability to repeated denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
"A DDos attack is like a semi (truck) driver intentionally jackknifing his rig on a busy interstate and shutting down traffic for a few hours," said one gamer, who wrote under the name "shadoefax."
Game users also took to Twitter to vent their frustration.
"After this christmas, #lizardsquad is forever on the naughty list," one frustrated gamer fumed.
A major cyber attack on PlayStation in 2011 saw personal details from 77 million customers stolen, preventing customers from playing online and forcing Sony to disable the network for more than three weeks.