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The PlayStation Network outage affecting millions of video game players worldwide — a security breach that exposed personal information and perhaps credit card numbers to hackers — also is hampering the development of one of the most anticipated games of the year.

Salt Lake City developer Eat Sleep Play Inc. was beta testing its PlayStation 3 car-combat game "Twisted Metal" when the April 17 outage knocked out Sony's online video game service. Now the game's online element cannot be tested until the network is back up.

"It's definitely affected us," said Eat Sleep Play's co-founder, Scott Campbell. "The main component of this game is online multiplayer. [So] there's absolutely no way to test any multiplayer components."

An "illegal and unauthorized intrusion" affected the PlayStation Network (PSN) and its online movie and music store, Qriocity, forcing the company to shut them down last week, said Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold. As a result, all of the network's estimated 60 million registered users have not been able to login and play games against one another online or download movies or television shows.

As of Wednesday, the networks were still down as Sony technicians worked to rebuild the system. They hope to have some services back within a week.

And on Tuesday, the Japanese electronics giant also confirmed that the hacker or hackers who broke into the system may have obtained the personal information, logins, passwords and possibly the credit card numbers of some or all PSN users.

Meanwhile, Sony said it has hired an outside security firm to investigate the break-in and determine if more private information has been obtained.

"It's terrifying," Clark Stacey, vice president for Salt Lake City game developer Smart Bomb Interactive, said about the outage. While Smart Bomb is not making a game for the PSN, his company has made games for Microsoft's Xbox Live.

"When you make a purchase online to a website, you're assuming a certain amount of risk yourself," he said. "But in a closed network like the PSN or Xbox Live, your trust is in them, and it's implicit that they have the security. To have something like this happen ... certainly undermines the confidence in online games in general."

In Utah, there are a few companies that have developed games for the PlayStation 3 and the PSN service, including EA Salt Lake, Avalanche Software (which produces games for Disney Interactive) and NinjaBee in Orem. None of the companies was available for comment Wednesday.

But Eat Sleep Play's Campbell said the outage should not delay the release of "Twisted Metal," which is still scheduled for Oct. 4.

"As if the downtime wasn't bad enough, they [the hackers] potentially have access to private information," Campbell said. "That will push anyone's button. That doesn't matter if you're on either side — a user or a developer."

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Sony's suggestions for PSN users

Because credit card numbers and personal information on the PlayStation Network may have been compromised, Sony suggests users takes several steps to protect their information.

Be aware of email scams or postal mail scams that ask for personal information or credit card information. "Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, Social Security number or other personally identifiable information," according to a Sony spokesman.

Once the PSN services are back up, change your password. Also change passwords for any other accounts with the same password as your PSN account.

Review your credit card reports and account statements for unauthorized charges.