Ending ominous silence over the restoration of PS3 Network that had millions of users on tenterhooks, Sony said in an official blog on Saturday that it has started the phased restoration of the PlayStation services which have been down for more than three weeks after daring hacker attacks.

Sony executives announced on Saturday that users can now update the firmware on their PS3 and change their password, putting an end to the agonizing wait over the last three weeks.

I can't thank you enough for your patience and support during this time, Kaz Hirai, executive deputy president of Sony and head of its gaming division, said in a statement.

Hirai said all users must change their PSN username and passwords. Since the attacks on our networks we have been working around the clock to bring game and media services back online, he said.

Hirai said the first services to be brought back alive will be online signin for PSN and Qriocity and online gameplay on PS3 and PSP. Other services like Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, MLB.TV, friends lists, chat, trophy comparison and PlayStation Home will also be available soon, starting tonight in some regions.

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, Hirai said.

Sony said some features like PlayStation Store and Qriocity purchasing features will be online very soon. According to Sony's latest update, restoration of full services across countries and regions will happen by the end of the month.

Users in North America will get to sign on to the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services tonight, according to Sony.

However, in the U.S., the restoration will take place in a phased manner and will take several hours before PSN is restored throughout the entire country.

Please note that these services will take a bit of time to be turned on and rolled out to the whole country, Patrick Seybold, Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media, said in a blog post.

The process has begun and some states are being turned on now, so please be patient as we reach your city and state. We’ll be updating the map below as service comes online in individual states. It will take several hours to restore PSN throughout the entire country, so please keep checking back for the latest updates, he said.

In several regions of Asia, including Japan, the restoration of the PSN network will take place later on.