Moving to a new country comes with all sorts of negotiations, as I’m finding out. The most painful ones are those that interfere with my media consumption. After we moved to Italy earlier this fall we needed to pick up a bunch of things. On the shortlist was a gaming/entertainment system—the WiiU is just not cutting it anymore. I traveled most of October for work so we didn’t get anything until later that month, which conveniently coincided with my oldest’s birthday. We got the PS4 and Arkham Knight to explore the dark world of the recent spate of Arkham-themed Batman video games—which I have more or less enjoyed. But the real motivation behind getting the PS4 was the imminent release of Star Wars Battlefront.
As much as I try and convince myself otherwise, I can’t quit Star Wars. So, one late night two weeks ago I started trying to figure out how I could pre-order Battlefront for download on the PS4. I created a new Playstation Network (PSN) account on the new system for my son. And that’s when the issues started. The Cliff’s Notes of this post is that if you already have an account in your country of origin (mine being the U.S.) you can sign-up with your existing account and simply make the PS4 your primary device for that account and you can use it as if you were in the U.S. with no restrictions.
Turns out you don’t have to create a new account for a new system in a new country. I had no idea, and after connecting my credit card, PayPal, etc. to my Italian account to download Battlefront continually failed miserably, I got “smart.” I decided to buy a $50 Playstation Store Gift Card on Amazon, only to find out they’re country specific. Nothing would work through my Italian account, and now I was $50 in the hole! But, that also gave me the motivation to search out a solution (nothing like having financial skin in the game) and I came across this extremely informative posting in the Expat Forum:
Accounts are region locked, but there’s no restrictions in where you use them, and you can have multiple region accounts on each Playstation. I bought my PS4 in the UAE, set it up with a UK PSN account and then also set up a PSN US account after realising that most games are a fair bit cheaper on the US PS Store than the UK one (I use US Paypal connected to an Entropay virtual pre-pay credit card as I don’t have a US card or address).
It’s pretty simple and you just add each country account as a user on the console. The important thing is to set your PS4 as the primary device for both accounts.
After reading this I added my U.S. region account to my Playstation and made sure the PS4 was the primary device. I could then sign-in to my U.S. PSN account and shop the U.S. Playstation store which had Battlefront available for download two days earlier and $10 cheaper than Italy. Winning. It felt good to have that downloaded and ready for my kids earlier than promised! Just another “thank you for sharing your knowledge” moment on the web.
But anyone who has a Xbox 1 or PS4 knows it is much more than a gaming system. They have become veritable media shopping malls, along with all the crap that comes with that. But one of the issues we’ve run into is Italy’s Netflix (which just arrived this October) provides a pretty weak selection (as does the U.S., frankly) and Anto and I grew to depend more and more on Amazon’s Instant Video for impulse movie rentals. My Macbook Pro has an HDMI output, so we can run series and movies that we find elsewhere off my computer through the TV. But when it comes to in-the-moment movie choices, we had become used to Amazon. Turns out Amazon Instant Video is available for the PS4 through the U.S. Playstation store, so we got access to that as well thanks to this setup. A media twofer.
Sometimes it’s the little things when you’re abroad that make media consumption just a little bit easier. My next challenge is to find a way to get English language books cheaper. And don’t talk to me about any kind of e-reader because I refuse them altogether. My particular challenge, how can I get an English version of William T. Vollman’s Europe Central delivered to my door in Italy for less than 35 euros?