The release of the PS5 towards the end of last year prompted millions of PS4 owners to upgrade and even more to purchase their first Sony Console.
However, there are tonnes of PlayStation games that are region-locked or only available in certain countries. If you want the full experience, you'll need to change your PSN region and also use a VPN for PS4 or PS5.
How to change region on PSN
Let's start with the bad news. Unfortunately, if you already have an account with PlayStation, you won't be able to change the region associated with the account.
This means the only way to do so is to create a new account with PlayStation and set it up with a different geographical region to the one you're in. The steps to do this are:
- Navigate to the Sony Entertainment Network website.
- Input an email address that does not belong to a PSN account.
- Enter your D.O.B and password, which should contain 8 characters min.
- Choose your PSN region from the menu options available.
- Submit the new account details you've entered.
- Log in to your email and verify your new PSN account.
- Turn on your PlayStation console and create a new user.
- Choose a ZIP or Postcode from the country you set the region as when you are prompted to enter one.
After completing these steps, you should have a PSN account with your chosen region set.
How to pay for games when changing PSN region
No matter which region your PlayStation account is set to, one rule applies: any credit or debit cards added to your account must be registered in the same region as your account.
This also means you can't set your PSN region to the United States and then use a UK credit card to pay for games on the PlayStation store (because you'll be using the American store). You can probably see where this is going – if you've created a PSN account set in a different region, it seems you won't be able to buy anything on the store with the credit cards you own and use because they're not registered in the new region.
The best easiest solution to this issue is either using PlayStation gift cards or pruchasing a virtual credit card. You can buy gift cards for the PlayStation store at a number of different shops and websites, just ensure they're in the correct currency for the PSN region you picked. If you opt for a virtual credit card we would recommend UnblockUS. To find out more about virtual credit cards and for more recommendations check out our best virtual credit cards page.
Using a VPN to find PlayStation gift cards
If you want to buy gift cards straight through the PlayStation gift card website, you might find a VPN useful. If you visit the website right now, you'll only get gift cards in the currency of the region you reside in, because the website knows your rough location and in turn the region you're in. It's not possible to purchase gift cards in other currencies from the website unless you have a VPN.
A VPN – which stands for Virtual Private Network – will reroute all your traffic through a private server before it reaches the internet. This will mask your device's IP address and the websites you visit will only be able to see the IP address of your provider's server. Top VPN providers have fleets of servers that extend right across the globe, so you'll have a whole host of locations to choose from.
So, to obtain gift cards in dollars, for example, you'd just have to connect to one of your provider's servers in the US and subsequently visit the gift card website.
What are the advantages of changing PSN region
There are several clear advantages to changing your PSN region, including:
- A different store - you'll have completely different games to choose from and access to all the games available to people in your new region.
- Cheaper games - you might be able to snag yourself a game or two for a cheaper price if you create an account in the right region.
- Early releases - games come out on different dates in different countries, so you could even start playing new releases a bit quicker.
Can I use it to unblock foreign content too?
Certain apps that you might use on your PlayStation – especially streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime – will determine your location via your IP address, rather than the information you've inputted into your PlayStation account.
This means if you'd like to unblock US Netflix through your PlayStation from outside of the country, creating an account and setting your PSN region to the United States won't be enough. On the contrary, a VPN will actually mask your IP address by rerouting your internet traffic through a private server, which is enough to trick Netflix into thinking you're in different countries.
Unfortunately, consoles like PlayStation have no native VPN support, so if you'd like to unblock things like Netflix you'll need to load a VPN onto your router. This is quite a complex process, especially if your router needs 'flashing' with the relevant firmware needed to house a VPN. Alternatively, you can purchase 'pre-flashed' VPN routers already loaded with VPN firmware.
It's worth noting here that routers only have lifespans of about four to five years before they start to depreciate in performance, so you might be worth upgrading regardless!
Are there other ways to change your IP address?
Aside from using a VPN for PS5 or your PS4, the only other real way to reliably spoof or change your IP address is to use a Smart DNS service. Smart DNS services perform the aforementioned task in a similar way to VPNs, but they don't provide the same security or privacy because they don't encrypt any of your traffic.
Although DNS services are a decent shout if privacy and security aren't your top priority, getting your hands on a good service will cost about as much as a top VPN provider, and there are a lot of VPN providers out there these days that have Smart DNS services attached to their VPN software.
If you opt for a VPN service, we would recommend ExpressVPN. It has super-fast VPN servers in over 94 different countries, strong encryption, and is able to unblock streaming services from around the world. Express also offers users a Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer with their VPN subscription so you can use a SmartDNS on your console and a VPN on your computer and smartphone.
Are there any reasons to use a VPN for gaming?
Gamers the world over are now using VPNs to improve their gaming experiences in a number of different ways.
One thing VPNs can do is prevent your ISP from bandwidth throttling you, something which might be happening if you find your download speeds fall off significantly when you're using a lot of bandwidth. A VPN encrypts all your internet traffic which means your ISP can't tell if you're doing things that use a lot of bandwidth, and they can't throttle you.
Without a VPN
With a VPN
|Your ISP can see your internet activity and traffic to determine whether it is high bandwidth. As a result, they can slow your download speeds.
|Your traffic is encrypted by your provider, which means your ISP can't see what you're doing.
|Your data is exposed when you play games that utilize P2P matchmaking and hackers attempt to disrupt your gameplay by sending you spam and junk traffic.
|Your IP address is hidden, so hackers can't target you online.
|Slow online gaming
|You have to connect to a gaming server from your physical location, so your ping time is what it is.
|If you can find a provider with servers all over your continent, they might have a server close to your gaming server or, even better, in between you and the gaming server. Connecting through this may reduce your ping time.