PlayStation Network Shoplifting May Have Taken PS3 Offline & Other Less Believable Theories

Why is the PlayStation Network still offline? Sony Computer Entertainment America will only cop to an unnervingly vague "external intrusion on our system," leading those affected by and those taking delight in PSN's problems to generate their own theories about the disruption that's now six days old.

Perhaps the best? That custom firmware for the PlayStation 3 opened the network to digital looters who started shoplifting games and downloadable content from Sony's online store.

That's the theory floated by a self-described moderator at PSX Scene, a web site dedicated to all things PlayStation and, more importantly, how to exploit all things PlayStation. "chesh420" contends on Reddit that Sony pulled the plug on the PlayStation Network after custom firmware for the PS3 enabled users to access the company's developer-only network.

That, chesh420 believes, turned into "extreme piracy of PSN content" as pirates masked their retail PS3s as debug units and manipulated faux credit card info to download anything and everything. Rebug's release at the end of March quickly turned from one more custom firmware option for the PlayStation 3 hacking enthusiast into a free-for-all, he says. Admittedly, it's just speculation on the part of that PSX Scene moderator, but it's interesting speculation.

Still, it seems like taking the PlayStation Network offline, keeping PlayStation 3 gamers from playing the recently released SOCOM 4, Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 and curbing days worth of digital sales would make this seem like a more dire situation for Sony.

Other theories about the outage pointed to decentralized hacking group Anonymous, the same group that caused service disruptions earlier this month. However, that attack was more widespread, affecting Sony web sites and the PlayStation Network, and the group has supposedly denied responsibility for the PSN's recent downtime.

Less credible thoughts on the matter point to Valve's new presence on the PlayStation Network. Coincidence that Steam support comes to the PS3 just one day before the network goes down? Yeah, probably. (ITworld also wildly speculates that a rush of PlayStation Plus users and a free Xbox Live weekend may have had something to do with it.)

Sony's still not offering a clear explanation on the PSN outage, nor is providing an ETA for when that service will return.

If you've got some theories, no matter how screwball they may be, please let us know in the comments.