Vita and PS4 games 50% more expensive in Europe (or why and how I moved to a US PSN account)

December 4, 2013

I’m a French dude living in Japan. For a long time I’ve lived with 3 PSN accounts: one in France, one in the US, and one in Japan (also, recently, one in Brazil but that’s another story).

Having several PSN accounts is, in general, not convenient. I have bought games on all three accounts, and it’s a pain to switch. The PS3 and PS4 make it relatively easy with their profile system, but on the Vita it’s a nightmare to use different accounts.

I recently decided I had to choose one account and stick to it. I asked several friends online and in real life for their opinion, and it became clear to me that besides the obvious “I chose the PSN of my country because that was the default option”, people don’t put that much thought into their choice.

And yet they should: I decided to dig into “what would be the best logical PSN account for me to keep”, and what I found might convince you to think twice about it.

Of course, if you’re one of these people who “only” speak one language and have to stick to it, then your choice is limited. But if you happen to be reasonably fluent in English (or if English is actually your mother language but you don’t live in the US), you might strongly want to consider giving up your current PSN account and switch to a US account.

What I compared

psn_prices_us_europe

As the main criteria for my decision, I decided to look at the prices of games on the PSN in various countries. It would be too much work to check all countries and all games, so I decided to focus on a comparison between the European and American PSN stores. I dismissed the Japanese store because the market in Japan is totally different, the games available are not the same, so the comparison did not make much sense to me. To get a reasonable sample, for Europe I looked at the prices in the UK and Germany.

As far as Vita games are concerned, I decided to take Kotaku’s “best 12 vita games” list and compare the prices of these twelve games. One of them was a PSM game, for which the PC PSN Store does not return any result, so I arbitrarily decided to replace it with Media Molecule’s recent hit Tearaway.

I also looked into the PS4, and chose a random list of 6 launch titles for the PS4, to compare their prices in the US, UK, and DE.

Finally, I also compared the prices of 1 year of Playstation Plus subscription.

The results

I was expecting tiny differences, maybe 5 to 10%. The type where I would need to be really of bad faith to convince anyone to switch from the convenience of their existing account to a US account. But in reality, I found that on average, Vita Titles are 35% more expensive in Europe than in the US. Playstation plus subscriptions are also about 30 to 35% more expensive in Europe, while PS4 games reach the “ripoff award of the year”: PS4 games are 51% more expensive in Europe than in the US, on average!

psn_prices_2013

PSN Price comparisons in various locales as of Dec 04, 2013

To put things in perspective, it means that with the same amount of money, you can buy 3 PS4 games in the US, while you can only buy 2 in Europe. How do you like that 2 for the price of 3 promotion, Europe, enjoying it?

Although I haven’t dug too much in other countries, I peeked a bit at the Australian and Brazilian stores, and saw similar differences. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that US is by far cheaper than all other locales on the PSN.

And with the recent opening of the Amazon Playstation Digital store recently, I expect some healthy competition to keep driving prices down in the US.

It doesn’t stop here. Services for your Sony devices are in general better with a US account. I personally enjoy Amazon Instant Video and Netflix on my Playstation devices.

How to live with a US PSN account outside of the US

So, I already hear some of you complaining: “well that’s great wololo, but if I don’t live in the US, Sony is going to make it impossible for me to buy anything or use their services”.

That’s true in general, but there are many ways to bypass all the limitations and restrictions that Sony puts on us here.

Switching accounts

On the PS3 and the PS4, you can easily create new profiles in any country you want. Setting up and using a US account is extremely easy.

On the Vita, it is a bit more complicated and requires you to basically completely reset the device. It’s the type of thing you don’t want to do too often, and the main reason I definitely switched to a US account. The process to switch your Vita to a US account is explained here

Buying digital games and content

First of all, it might be difficult or even impossible to buy anything on the PSN without a US Credit card or a US Paypal account. Honestly I don’t know if Sony still have regional restrictions on payment methods, but last time I tried to go directly through them several years ago, they did: they would reject my French credit card or my French paypal account on their US store.

I found that the easiest way to buy credits on the US PSN is to go through Amazon. They sell US PSN Codes at face value and I explain in this tutorial how to buy US PSN Codes on Amazon even when you don’t live in the US.

The US PSN accepts those codes independently of your IP address, and this is how I buy most of my games today.

The Amazon technique above also works for Playstation plus subscriptions, but I found that the playstation plus codes on Amazon are subject to taxes. It is in that case more interesting to buy PSN Digital codes from Amazon, and use those codes to buy the PSN+ subscription directly from Sony.

Enjoying Video services

DNS redirection tools such as unblock-us exist that let me watch Netflix and Amazon Instant Video on my PS3, PS4, and Vita. These US-only services are awesome, have much more content and are much cheaper than their counterparts in the rest of the world. Again, that’s interesting only if you speak English fluently and are interested in (mostly) American dramas and movies. Personally, I love it. The process is explained below for each specific device:

Conclusion

Owning a US PSN account means I pay my games much cheaper, and get better content and services on my Playstation devices, for a lower price than in any of the European PSNs. So, I’ve made my choice. How about you? How expensive are games in your country? Have you ever considered switching?

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