A couple of years ago my son Bret was begging for a PS4, based on the premise that most of his friends had or were getting a PS4, so he would be able to play online with them, so I bought him one for Christmas, and it has caused nothing but problems due to the ridiculous dictatorship that Sony imposes and the terrible attitude of Playstation support towards its users.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not particularly a Microsoft or an XBOX fanboy either, I could complain all day long about Microsoft and Xbox support and all the problems they have caused us over the years with their incompetence. I owned a PlayStation 1 back in the day, and several Playstation 2’s, in fact I only got rid of my PS2’s last year. But the issues with kids and parental controls did not affect those consoles, these issues really only really began once consoles were doing everything online.

We have had XBOX 360’s in the house for as long as I have had kids, one of the things I have always liked about the Xbox is the extensive and granular parental controls it allows. You as the parent have full control over what your kids can and cannot do, the amount of play time, whether they can play online or accept friend requests, age restrictions etc, the decisions are yours, nothing is forced upon you.

Herein lies the problem with the PlayStation. First off, the parental controls are a joke. Sony has decided in their dictator style wisdom, that they will determine what is and is not suitable for your children and how they will use the Playstation, and you as the parent will not be given any choice in the matter.

In order to use your Playstation properly or play online games, you first need signup for a Sony/Playstation account, for which you must be over 18. If your kid’s signup then they have to lie about their age and of course would have access to 18+ content as well as no protection from abusive users or predators. Also, if Sony finds out they are a child, the account will be blocked forever, and they will lose all their games and content. It seems Sony will pretty much ban any account for any reason why see fit, no matter how daft.

So to stay within the rules, you as the parent must signup, and then you create child sub-accounts inside your parent account. This is where your problems start.

The first thing we discovered on Christmas day was that child accounts cannot play online, there is no way to override this, it is Sony’s rule, they have decided that nobody unde rthe age of 18 is allowed to play online, period. So if you purchased the PS4 and games specifically so your kids could play online with their friends, you are now screwed. We could not find this information actually mentioned anywhere and had to wait until after Xmas to contact support to find out this was the reason why online gaming would not work. Needless to say that Bret’s Christmas was completely ruined by this. Had I known about this in advance, I would never have purchased him a PS4.

Despite their anti-child rules, Sony will happily sell you games intended for under 18’s which have online play, knowing full well that your kids will never be able to play online.

We have had numerous issues since with support screwing us around. Such as a controller which stopped working properly, while it was still within warranty, but PlayStation support messed us about for months until the warranty had passed, and then refused to help.

The next nightmare we had to deal with was the PSN PLUS subscription, which allows you to play online and gives you a number of downloadable games each month. Due to the initial issues mentioned above, I created the subscription on my own account, which means that I owned all the downloaded games. However, any other user on the console could benefit from my subscription and could also play those games and have online gaming access as long as my subscription remained active and this was set as my primary console.
If you cancel your subscription, then you lose access to all the games you downloaded, which is another limitation that I find very unfriendly and also very greedy of Sony. The equivalent on XBOX is the XBOX Live Gold subscription, but any games you download while subscribed are yours forever. So even if you cancel your subscription, you still get to play all the games you downloaded.

Obviously, the inability to play online was a complete show stopper and not something we could live with, otherwise, I may as well of just sold the PS4. So like most other people I had no choice but to create an adult account for my son to use. This unfortunately still incurred some issues with the PSN PLUS subscription being on my account, there were things he still could not do.
So we contacted PlayStation support and asked them what would happen if I cancelled my subscription and moved it over to his account. They informed us that we would still have access to all the games I had downloaded, because they were assigned to the console, and it only required any user to have an active subscription. So base on this advise, I set up a new subscription for my son, and allowed mine to expire.

I’m sure you can probably guess what happened when my subscription expired, yes the support agent was an incompetent idiot and had gotten it completely wrong or had told us a bunch of porky pies. As soon as my subscription expired, all the games vanished from the console. I contacted PlayStation support once again, but of course, they denied all responsibility and refused to resolve the situation in their usual unhelpful style. I asked them if they would just transfer all my games licenses to my son’s account, but no, of course, that would too easy and helpful. So now the only solution is to maintain 2 subscriptions, which is a complete waste of money, as  I do not even use the PlayStation.

We have also had several instances where my son has contacted PlayStation support, and they have been quite rude and unhelpful to him and he has come away not only upset but also thinking they are complete idiots. If a 10 year old thinks you are an idiot, then you have a problem LOL.

On one occasion, after he had been in the support queue for over 30 minutes, they simply refused to speak to him because he was a child, he even told them that his dad was standing right next to him, and they could speak to me, but they just said “no thanks” and hung up on him. He was of course pretty upset about this after waiting so long to get through. Again no apology when I complained, just complete denial.

Definately should have gone for an Xbox One instead.

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