Sony on Vita: One PSN Account per Handheld

Sony has now reaffirmed that the Vita will only support one PSN account per device.

On December 3, a member at NeoGAF shared news they received from an FAQ located in a catalogue given to them at the PlayStation Vita event held in Osaka. The original text and the member’s translation of it are as follows:

Q: PSNアカウントは、PSVita本体1つに対して何個まで設定できますか?
A: 1つです。別のPSNアカウントで使用したい場合は、本体の初期化を行ってください。
Q: How many PSN account can be set up on a Vita system?
A: Only 1 account. If you want to to use a different account, you need to format the system to factory settings.

This alarmed much of the community that still eagerly awaits the Vita as it meant that sharing the device with others would be impossible if downloadable content, a main focus of the Vita, is consumed. Thrifty Nerds pointed out a spokesperson at the Osaka event mentioned that Vita titles will be capped at a retail price of $39.99, with the PSN versions on average 40% less than their retail counterparts. While this helps with the cost of memory cards, it does not help with the cost of UMD Passports or the cost of multiple handhelds for family members.

However, fears were quelled when Wired was told otherwise at a press event in Manhatten. Sony Associate Brand Marketing Manager Crystal MacKenzie stated this was not quite true.

Your PSN ID is bonded to your memory card and your memory card is bonded to your Vita. So if you wanted to change different PSN users, but use the same memory card, you would need to go factory reset.

However, yesterday Wired received an e-mail from a different Sony representative that retracted that statement:

[The] PSN account is tied to the hardware and the memory card, not just the card, which means that if a second person is using your Vita, it’s not just a case of switching out memory cards, it’s clearing out all of your saved data on the Vita itself when you do the factory reset. In other words, PlayStation Vita is intended to be played by only one user.

In summary, if you want to log in onto your PSN account on a Vita belonging to a friend or family member, you’ll have to factory reset their device to do so and bring your own memory card. The Vita is intended to be used by only one person, unlike the PS3.

Analysis: This was quite obviously done for two reasons. The first is to prevent sharing PSN games with your friends and family. Until recently, with the PS3 and PSP, it was not altogether difficult to buy a game on PSN and download it to your device and the device of four of your best buddies. Recently, this was changed so that instead of five activations, you get only two. Sony doesn’t like losing money; on that front, I don’t blame them. That is blatantly cheating the system, and you might as well pirate the game at that point. However, I feel that this may be stepping too far over the line to achieve the goal. There had to have been a better way to do this, and I’d be hard-pressed to believe otherwise.

The second reason is likely to prevent people from registering multiple PSN accounts in different regions to access PSN downloads only available in particular regions. This is a common thing to do by importers, who would otherwise have to either wait for a game to be localized or pay exceedingly high shipping rates for a physical copy.

To be quite frank, Sony seems to be making a point of generating as many hidden costs for this platform as possible. With the requirement of memory cards, multiple systems, and UMD Passport, I’m beginning to take bets as to the next way they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot. My wager: They’re going to screw up the PS3/Vita interconnection. They’re either going to not use it enough or half-ass it.

Joshua Moore

About Joshua Moore

Joshua has been a gamer for a long time, starting back with the NES as a child. Since then his interests branched from game systems to general electronics; an avid fan of technology and computers, Joshua graduated with honors from the University of South Florida and now holds a degree in Electrical Engineering. His favorite games include Valkyrie Profile, BlazBlue, Left 4 Dead 2, and Ocarina of Time. Additionally, he attends various BlazBlue tournaments and tries to pick up other anime or air-dasher fighters whenever possible.