Activating and Deactivating Your PS3 System, What You Really NEED To Know

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Update: After another 1hr 40 min conversation with Sony and after finally getting to speak to a manager they deactivated by old system. In the end, I didn’t have the old receipt, but I had the new one so faxing them that plus my name, PSN ID, sign-in ID, name, phone number, and a service request number they gave me got it got done. I sent the fax about 11 a.m. this morning, they sent a response email saying it was done at 2pm, so quick turnaround. I get home and tried to activate my PS3 and wouldn’t you know now it works like a charm, but man this is something I will never forget.

This is a follow up to my amazingly popular post I wrote a few days ago about how my old PS3 was activated, then broke, and essentially locked me out of my video content. After going through this and having my integrity questioned like I am just making stuff up I decided to share what I have learned about this relatively unknown phenomenon so that it doesn’t happen to someone else.

By now, everyone knows that a maximum of five systems may be registered to a PlayStation Network account at a time. To most this is common knowledge and it seems to work just fine for games. But I bet most of you didn’t know that when it comes to video the rules are different. From Sony’s website when speaking of system activation they say “For certain types of PlayStation®Network content, you must activate your system (PLAYSTATION® 3 computer entertainment system or PSP® portable entertainment system) on the PlayStation Network in order to view or play the content.  In these cases, if your system (PLAYSTATION 3 or PSP system) is not activated, you will not be able to access the purchased PlayStation Network content. “ ( Why would they let you purchase it in the first place is my question? When it comes to video the policy is as follows :

  • Purchased content can be downloaded to a single PLAYSTATION 3 or a single PSP system.
  • Content cannot be re-downloaded once it has been downloaded to either a PLAYSTATION 3 or PSP system

Ok, so let me make this very clear when you buy video content, either rental or purchase, Sony automatically activates that PS3 for video without you doing anything. From then on that piece of hardware is linked to your PSN ID. In the event that the PS3 breaks and you have not deactivated it, then no other PS3 will be able to access video content when you log in with your same PSN ID. At this point, your only recourse is to pay $150 and send it back to Sony and have them fix it or else you are in for a ride. Lots of people asked me why did I buy a completely new system instead of sending it back to Sony to fix and my simple answer is I just didn’t feel like it. It might not seem logical to some, but I wanted it a new system right then and I didn’t want to wait.

That is precisely what happened to me and it has been a saga that I would just as well forget. In fact I got so frustrated on the phone with Sony representatives that my blood pressure spiked and I got physically sick for the rest of the day. I ended up being on the phone with Sony for 1hr 40min trying to get this taken care of.  I asked them to just deactivate the system that was linked to my account, I had given them my sign in ID and online ID which they were able to match and find. However, they said that without the original proof of purchase there was nothing they could do. I bought the original system over a year ago, I was like who keeps receipts that long. I told him that I had the receipt for the new system, but he insisted I either needed the original or a receipt from where I sold it from saying I no longer had possession of it. At this point, I ask to speak to a supervisor or manager. The manager, Jason, gets on the phone and I explain the situation to him. Once he hears the part about me having the new receipt he says that’s fine we can work with that and gives me the appropriate steps to take. ( We will see if those work)

To give you an idea of the conversation I had with the representative, he actually told me that I was uninformed and had I been well informed then I would have known that Sony handles the video differently and that I should know I needed to deactivate the old system even though I didn’t know it was activated in the first place. He said that everyone knows this, that it is in the user manual. I am like come on dude, who reads the owner manual? I mean I just couldn’t get over how this guy was insulting me for not knowing this subtle difference in how they treat content when no one that I know thus far even knew about this.

But like I said I am writing this so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else, so here is what you need to know about buying video content in the PS Store.

  • When you buy a PS3, KEEP the receipt. Put it up somewhere safe and know where to find it. If this happens to you, it will make solving it easier. (But this won’t happen to any of you because you are going to do what I say right :) )
  • If you either rent or buy ANY video content from the PS Store, your system  will be automatically activated in the background for you. It would be in your best interest to as soon as you download the content or finish watching the rental to go into the account management, ps3 system activation, video, and deactivate it immediately. I know this is a hassle but in the event that your PS3 breaks and you don’t send it to Sony to be fixed and you still use the same sign in ID its the only way this will not happen to you.
  • Once you download the video content, take care of the system because per the PS3 website “Videos cannot be transferred to any other storage device or copied onto a CD or DVD”.  As I was reminded on the phone with one Sony rep, per the EULA, PS Store does NOT do refunds and does NOT allow redownload of video content, games are a different story remember that. (Note: If I had not had the new receipt I would have no recourse to get my money back and would be stuck with content I can’t ever watch.)

To Sony,

Find a way to fix this. I know that you have to protect yourself against privacy and crap from the movie studios but don’t screw your customers. Since obviously somewhere there is data that shows a particular PS3 hardware is linked to a PSN ID, then you could implement a safety measure for customers so that if you attempt to buy video content while logged in on a different piece of hardware, alert the customer before you let them buy the content and then have clear steps to resolve the matter. The Sony rep kept telling me it was to protect my privacy and all that but I am like I gave you my online ID, sign ID, email, phone, address, I mean what else do you need. At the most you could request the credit card number associated with the purchase, if they can give you that then they probably are who they say they are.

Bottom line is that you can’t expect people to keep receipts or to always send broken systems back to you and give you more cash. It could have been given as a gift for goodness sakes. The bottom line is that I understand about content that has been downloaded before, but if someone calls you and says I paid for this content and says I can’t download it and you look at your system and see that the content has indeed never been downloaded you pretty much assume I am me. The thing I didn’t understand was why does the hardware mattered. If I call you and can prove that I own the account that purchased the content it shouldn’t matter what hardware I’m on if the content has never been downloaded because once you deactivate the old system and I activate the new one then the old on can’t get to my content anyway because now the new hardware is linked to my PSN ID. The bottom line is as long as I have the right sign in credentials, the hardware that I use to download content onto for the first time should not matter. If someone else has my sign in credentials then that is a bigger problem because even though they can’t watch the content they could buy it and have me charged for it. – A concerned customer

Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.