March 01, 2010, 7:41 AM — [UPDATE: Sony has cautioned users of non-slim PS3 models not to use their systems until a fix is deployed. They anticipate this to happen within 24 hours. Details: Latest info on PlayStation Network Status]
Starting sometime Sunday, Playstation 3s the world over stopped working. If you have one of the newer "slim" models you're safe, but other owners might want to avoiding using their PS3s until this has been sorted out.
Here's my firsthand experience of what happened. Sunday morning the system was working fine. I finished Heavy Rain (great experience, by the way) sometime late Sunday morning, ET. Sunday evening I went back to the PS3 to check out some of the bonus materials in the game. I booted up the PS3, launched the game from the "Recently Played" menu and the game started loading and then gave an error saying "Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will quit." The only option at this point was to hit X and quit the game, which I did.
At that point I noticed that the clock was reading December 31st, 1969 (Full disclosure: other users are stating their clock was reset to 1/1/2000 and honestly I didn't make a note of the time other that that it was way off. I'm so used to reset internal clocks saying 1/31/1969 that I may have these detail wrong) . I tried to set the clock via Internet and that failed, so I set it manually. Tried the game again, same results. Rebooted the PS3 and when it came back up I got a message saying there was an error logging into the Playstation Network (PSN). I tried to manually log in but got an error message. I noted the on-screen clock wasn't advancing; it still displayed the same time I'd manually set. Then I tried running the game again and got the same Trophy error. Next I checked my Trophy Collection and noticed that Heavy Rain was no longer listed. That was cause for concern; will I have to track down the Origami Killer a second time?
At that point I headed to the PC and tried to log into the Playstation Network on it, and got an error there, too. That would point to the problem being with PSN. However, back on the PS3, I disconnected the network cable and tried launching Heavy Rain (which, after all, is a single player experience) again, and got the same Trophy errror. Whether that would have happened if I hadn't first tried to launch the game while online, I don't know. It's possible I've now corrupted the Trophy data for that game (and I'm not selfless enough to risk another game in order to see if that's the case).
As of this morning, I can now log into the PSN on the web, but the console is still having problems. It is interesting to note there's still connectivity: the "news ticker" still loads, the web browser can still load web pages.
Sony's blog has a brief post acknowledging the problem, and they direct you to follow their Twitter account for updates, the last of which was 8 hours ago as of the time of this writing. Gaming forum NeoGaf has a long thread on the problem (and I admit I didn't read through all 78 & counting pages of it), but I'd view the info there with some degree of skepticism; these aren't Sony engineers talking. They point to it being a problem with the internal clock of older PS3s which makes sense given that the glitch happened on Feb. 28, 2010, arguably sometime around midnight GMT. Maybe the clock thinks this is a leap year? The crowd-sourced wisdom seems to think everything will fix itself once 24 hours has passed. We'll see. I'm not sure how that would explain not being able to log into the Playstation Network on the web when the issue first appeared. Sony's official word is that it is a PSN error.
Whatever is going on, if you have a pre-slim PS3, I'd suggest not using it until you get the all-clear from Sony, just in case Trophy data is really getting corrupted.