All around the world, PlayStation 3 consoles simply aren't working like they're supposed to, with an error preventing people from not just going online, but from playing some PS3 games offline as well. [Post updated throughout the day.]
From Europe to the Americas to, well, my house in Australia, users (mostly of older "Fat" consoles, those released before 2009's "PS3 Slim") have been complaining since Sunday that upon booting their consoles up, they're unable to sign into their accounts, check their trophies, use dynamic themes or access the PlayStation Network. That's fine, Sony say there are PSN connection problems, and that they are "looking into it".
Problem is, the error does more than just prevent you from going online. It prevents you from playing certain games offline as well. Even for some consoles that aren't connected to the PSN, like debug units. The screen above is what I was greeted with on a retail console when attempting to play Heavy Rain, and pressing out of it simply reboots the PS3, returning you to the main menu screen. It's the same story for other games that feature dynamic trophy support.
PSN games are no different; I tried to boot up "Flower", only to be greeted with a similar message about failed copyright protection, and it was right back to the XMB.
Sony say "stay tuned" for updates on the problem. In turn, we've emailed Sony for comment and will update if we hear anything more.
While theories abound that this has something to do with the calendar on older PS3s (some users are reporting their date/time settings have been reset), bear in mind Sony has redesigned its PlayStation website over the weekend, so it could be the result of some tinkering under the hood for the PlayStation Network. Then again, if consoles not connected to the PSN are also affected, it could be something else. Who knows!
Whatever it is, though, you have to wonder at the design process that turns a network outage into something stopping you from playing an offline, singleplayer title.
UPDATE - Sony has updated, saying "We're narrowing down the issue and continue to work to restore service to all. Updates as soon as we have them."
UPDATE 2 - A mass story-telling session on internet gaming forum NeoGAF points towards the issue potentially being related to a calendar bug in older PlayStation 3 consoles, not the PlayStation Network as was first suspected. Bear in mind this is mob science, however, and is by no means official confirmation on the cause of the problem.
UPDATE 3 - Citing unnamed "developers and studios", British site Develop say that the issue is affecting titles currently in production for the PlayStation 3, with debug consoles - used by developers to actually make games - thrown "into a rebooting cycle, due to an endlessly-looping error message".
UPDATE 4 - PS3's still aren't working, and there has been no official update from Sony in over 9 hours. Their last Twitter update says that they believe the issue does not appear to be impacting PS3 Slim consoles.
UPDATE 5 (8:20 am Mountain Time) - Sony U.S. silent since Sunday, but PlayStation Europe Tweets three times in the past hour: "Rest assured, we've many people working on fixing this issue. As soon as we have some news, we'll let you know." and then "Please don't trust info regarding this issue unless from an official Sony source. On Twitter this means @PlayStationEU and @SonyPlayStation." and then "We will be updating you the second we have some news."