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LittleBigPlanet Servers Still Down? Here's Why!

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

As most LittleBigPlanet fans have seen by now, the LittleBigPlanet servers went up on March 31st temporarily. The HTTP side of the server, the part that handles published levels, was slow during this time, but peer to peer multiplayer connections worked mostly fine. After the 31st, the servers went down again and haven't been up since. Why are the LittleBigPlanet servers still down?

On April 2nd, the branded @LittleBigPlanet Twitter account tweeted this status update:

The update comes after a deadline that they had defined: the end of March. This was never a guarantee, but it was a date that many had been hoping would be the return of the LittleBigPlanet servers.

To make matters worse, on April 17th players began to notice that PlayStation Vita's servers were experiencing unusual intermittence. MysteriousCube, owner of popular LittleBigPlanet modding and archival Discord server Dreamiverse, reported that "The LittleBigPlanet Vita server is reportedly getting ddosed," citing that the server was "going on and off abnormally." Although no formal evidence exists that the LBP Vita outage was due to an attack, the irregularity of the server's uptime is certainly not normal, suggesting that the outage was unintentional.

Why Did the Servers Go Up on March 31st?

First, let's talk about why the servers went up briefly in the first place. In short, we don't really know. All we can do is speculate. One of the best theories we've heard so far is that the brief uptime was a 'stress test' of the server.

What is a stress test and why does the server need it? Video game servers need to allocate a certain amount of bandwidth in order to support a large quantity of users. If too many users try to connect at once and there isn't enough bandwidth, it's possible that the server won't be able to support them all and it might slow down the experience for everyone. This is technically what happens during a DDoS attack, but in this case it's unintentional.

It's possible that they underestimated the amount of bandwidth that they would need to turn the servers back on. The #SaveLBP movement on Twitter has driven many players back to the game that weren't playing before which may have raised the demand. Therefore, they had to shut the servers down in order to allocate more bandwidth and resources. Again, this is an unconfirmed hypothesis.

Why Is It Taking So Long to Restore the Servers?

Again, we don't know for sure. There are tons of possibilities and all we can really do is speculate. We do have some reasonable speculation to consider that can give us a better idea of the task that the LittleBigPlanet team faces.

LittleBigPlanet Uses Amazon Web Services

A world map marking Amazon Web Services server locations.
Amazon Web Services has locations around the world.

When I previously talked to Shanzenos about the LittleBigPlanet servers, he informed me that they use Amazon Web Services. It's possible that since the servers are managed by a third party, they are at the whim of Amazon's network engineers.

Depending on how Amazon handles its servers and how much free will they give to their customers in terms of server maintenance, it's entirely possible that the process depends on Amazon's cooperation. Over two million companies utilize Amazon Web Services, so performing maintenance may require the LittleBigPlanet team to wait in line until technicians are available to assist.

Ensuring Server Security

Although we still do not know the official cause of the server outages, the most widely accepted hypothesis is a denial-of-service attack. How can the LittleBigPlanet team stop DoS and DDoS attacks from happening?

As Shanzenos pointed out to us, a leaked HMAC key is allegedly the vulnerability that was exploited to disrupt the LittleBigPlanet servers. To prevent the problem from happening again, the LBP team would simply need to change this key. However, since the servers are taking so long to restore, there must be something else going on.

A diagram showing how Cloudfare works. Connections to the server must pass through an intermediary network to be filtered and accepted. This allows for malicious connections to be filtered out before they can cause a load on the LittleBigPlanet servers.
Cloudfare can help filter for malicious connections like DDoS attacks. Image credit: