What Is the PlayStation Network (PSN)?

What to know about the online gaming and media content distributor

The PlayStation Network (PSN) is an online gaming and media content distribution service. Sony Corporation originally created PSN to support its PlayStation 3 (PS3) game console. The company has expanded the service over the years to support other Sony devices, plus streaming of music and video content. The PlayStation Network is owned and operated by Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) and competes with the Xbox network.

Using the PlayStation Network

You can access the PlayStation Network through:

  • A compatible PlayStation console or device (PS3 or later).
  • Any web.

Access to PSN requires setting up an online account. Both free and paid subscriptions exist. Subscribers to PSN provide their preferred email address and pick a unique online identifier. Logging into the network as a subscriber allows a person to join multiplayer games and track their statistics.

PSN includes a PlayStation Store that sells online games and videos. Purchases can be made through standard credit cards or through a PlayStation Network Card. This card is not a network adapter but simply a prepaid debit card.

PlayStation Plus

Plus is an extension of PSN that offers more games and services to those paying an additional subscription fee. PlayStation Plus is available at three tiers with different prices and features.

The Essential plan has all of the basic features, including online play, PS Store discounts, free games each month, and cloud storage for game saves, This plan costs $9.99 per month with three- and 12-month subscriptions available for 1 month $24.99 and $59.99, respectively.

The Extra tier costs $14.99 a month, $39.99 for three months, or $99.99 annually. It includes all of the features of the Essential level along with access to the Game Catalog, which includes a library of hundreds of titles from the PS4 and PS5 that you can play at no extra cost as long as your subscription remains active.

Finally, the Premium membership is the most expensive, at $17.99 a month, three months for $49.99, and an annual price of $119.99. Along with the basic features and access to the Game Catalog, this tier lets you play early game trials, the ability to play games from the cloud, and access to the Classics Catalog, which includes games from older PlayStation systems. The Premium membership combines the defunct PlayStation Now game library service with PlayStation Plus.

Issues With the PlayStation Network

PSN has suffered from several high profile network outages over the years including those caused by malicious attacks. Users can check the network’s status online by visiting http://status.playstation.com/.

Some have expressed disappointment with Sony’s decision to make Plus membership a requirement for online gaming with PS4 when that feature was free for PS3 users before. Some have similarly criticized the quality of free games Sony has supplied to Plus subscribers on the monthly update cycle since PS4 was introduced.

As with other Internet-based game networks, intermittent connectivity challenges can affect PSN users including temporary inability to sign on, difficulty in finding other plays in online game lobbies, and network lag.

The PSN Stores is not available to people residing in some countries.

  • How do you change your PSN name?

    Go to your Account Management page in a web browser and select PSN Profile in the sidebar. Select Edit next to your current online ID. Enter a new name and follow the on-screen instructions to make the change. Once you have a new PSN ID, you need to log back into all of the devices that use it.

  • How do you delete your PSN account?

    If you want to delete your PSN account, you need to contact Sony directly and request it. Make sure you have your PSN ID and your Sign-In ID (usually your email address) handy. Once your account is closed, you lose access to anything you purchased using the account, including games, downloadable content, and subscriptions. You also lose access to your PSN wallet and any funds in it.

  • How do you change your PSN password?

    Go to Account Management and select Trouble Signing In? > Reset your password. Sony will send you a verification email with a link. Follow that link to create a new password.

  • How long will the PSN be down?

    While it's hard to estimate exactly how long an outage will last, a little online sleuthing can let you know when you'll be gaming again. The PSN Server Status page can tell you if one or all of its services are currently offline. You can also check the @AskPlayStation Twitter account for updates or ask a customer support-related question.

Was this page helpful?