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2014 starts with multiple attacks on gaming sites

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(Credit: Valve)

The New Year is off to a lousy start for some of the gaming industry's largest digital distribution sites.

Valve's Steam, EA's Origin, and Blizzard's Battle.net were the target of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Thursday night, which overloaded servers and took the sites offline. All three have adjusted their firewalls and are back online at this point.

A group calling itself "DERP" took credit for the EA attacks on Twitter. Origin was offline sporadically for nearly 24 hours as it handled the DDoS onslaught.

The same group has claimed responsibility for DDoS attacks on several games including DOTA 2, League of Legends and Club Penguin, as well as the Blizzard.net service.

Those games seemed to be targeted right as Twitch streamer James "Phantoml0rd" Varga put them on his Twitch channel. Varga told Polygon he believes his popularity on Twitch was what caused him to be singled out.

Twitter users chF and Larceny took credit for Valve's downtime, implying that another round of attacks would occur Friday evening.

The initial Steam attacks took place on the final days of the service's Winter Sale. Valve, however, did not extend the sale for people who were unable to purchase games because of the site outage. Steam was effectively unreachable for much of Thursday night through mid-Friday morning.

This was the second time the site buckled during the holiday season, though the first time was of its own doing. On Christmas Day, Valve offered Left 4 Dead 2 as a free download and Steam was unable to keep up with the rush of fans grabbing the game at the same time.

DDoS attacks are any effort by hackers to make a computer or network incapable of performing its normal operations. For most sites, this means they're unable to load in people's browsers, effectively taking them offline.

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