Things haven't been easy for the PlayStation Network lately. The Christmas attack was something the Network never really recovered from, and while Xbox Live has been mostly stable following its Christmas downtime, Sony's service has yet to stabilize. The PlayStation Network has been down fairly regularly since the holidays, and Sony hasn't given any details on exactly what sort of trouble its services have been facing.

Sony's already done quite a bit to try and make the downtime up to players, and it seems that fans are primed to get another gift: all PlayStation Plus services will be free during the weekend of Feb. 13. However, it comes with a catch: the service will be down for a large portion of the preceding Thursday.

Again, it's a nice move on Sony's part: giving all of its members free multiplayer access to PlayStation Plus isn't exactly the most original move (Sony has run this promotion several times in the past), but it's great for players who haven't paid for the PlayStation's extra online services already.

That being said, it's annoying that the service has to go down on Thursday to make way for Friday. From 9am EST on Feb. 12, the PlayStation Network will be down for three and a half hours. At the very least, Sony is taking the Network down during some of its quieter hours, but it's still going to knock thousands of players offline when the maintenance downtime kicks in.

Is it a huge deal? No - it's only three hours, after all, and it won't be a repeat of the Christmas disaster. Is it annoying? Yes - there are plenty of people who use the Network for more than gaming, and to have the entire service down for three hours - again - is just sort of obnoxious at this point. Hopefully, it'll be worth it in the end: Sony better make sure the Network is running at 100% before that free weekend kicks in, or there's going to be a whole lot of backlash.

The PlayStation Network maintenance will take the service down on Feb. 12 at 9am EST, and the PlayStation Plus free weekend will begin on Feb. 13. For all the details, head on over to the PlayStation Blog.

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