Playstation Store: worst customer experience ever?

As a professional developer, and as a homebrew coder, I am strongly against video games piracy, and digital piracy in a general way. Well, it doesn’t mean I never downloaded illegally, let’s be honest here, I’ve been a student too. But now that I have a salary, I tend to buy more and pirate much, much less.

There’s still a problem with the current legal offer though: Movies.

As a foreigner in Japan, it is very difficult to get access to non-japanese movies. Let’s give an example: I got Wall-E on DVD (ordered from the UK) 1 month before it was out in theaters here.
It is not a problem with Japan. It is a problem with wanting to watch movies in a country that is not yours. Don’t get me started on how difficult it would be for me to watch French movies without the minority of sites that try to fix this (luckily Amazon ships worldwide, if you’re ready to pay the shipping). And don’t get me started on Christine Albanel either, that’s not the point of this article, although it is completely related.

Oh, sorry, I’m stupid, I didn’t know standard browsers don’t work on your futuristic website

Anyways, the other day I decided to try and rent a movie from the Playstation store. My goal was to rent the Disney movie “Bolt”.
If you go to the US playstation store , you’ll see in the “movies” section (bottom of the page) a bunch of titles available for Rent, for the PS3 or the PSP.
Here’s the example for Bolt:

The first thing that surprised me was that there is no “Buy” or “Rent” button on the page. I first tought I needed to log-in (which I did), or maybe I needed to “activate” my PSP from my user account (which I did) to be recognized as a “legit” psp owner… but it didn’t change anything.
At the bottom of the page, a “Where to buy” button redirects the user to… Amazon! What? That’s certainly not what they meant…

A few hours spent on the “Knowledge center” (a marketing name for what human beings call a FAQ), and an email to the Customer service brings me the solution:

Thank you for writing us about your issue. You have to actually go to the Playstation Store on your PSP(R) portable entertainment system to make purchases.

Ok…right… how about you clearly say that somewhere on the page, for example, in red letters where the BUY button should be? Goddammit…

IPism  (Sorry sir, please use that other server, the one for people of your kind.)

Anyways, I was motivated in my quest for honesty, so I followed the instructions and went to the playstation store with my PSP. I will not talk about the issues I had to connect (you can only have one PSN account on the PSP, and unfortunately I already had a European one – did I mention I’m a European guy living in Japan with a strong interest in American movies?), or the issues related to the fact that I run a custom Firmware on my PSP.
So, not mentioning these issues, here I am, on the Playstation store, with a large selection of… games??? absolutley NO movie??? WTF??? Where did Bolt go?

So let’s sum this up. I can see the movie is “available” on the PC store, but I can’t buy it from there, for god knows what stupid reason, and according to the customer service, I could buy it from my PSP, but it is nowhere to be found…

Hmmm, let’s email the customer service again, and ask why that is. Although, people who don’t live in the US probably already guessed the answer, ’cause it’s always the same stupid reason:

Thank you for writing to us about downloading your movie from the PlayStation(R)Network to your PSP(R) portable entertainment system.

Unfortunately, because you are using a Japanese IP Address to access the North American PlayStation®Store, you will not be able to purchase the content that you want such as the movie “Bolt”.

Oh, yeah, thank you. Well, that could be written somewhere on the main page as well. I knew that was the reason, but not everyone is as dedicated as I am, you know…

Gattaca – let’s fake my ADN to look like a WASP

Now there, Sony, don’t cry. You obviously don’t want me to buy your products, but I’m a nice guy, and I have access to a VPN. So I’ll even go through the trouble of installing your new Media Go application, fire it through the VPN, and, there it is, the Movie I’ve been trying to buy for 6 hours now:

But I’m a bit suspicious. It’s a PSP Movie, but I want to watch it on my TV, so I need to send it to my psp3000, not my Phat. The terms of use say I can copy a rented movie to only 1 PSP. Therefore the psp3k needs to be activated and/or recognized by Media Go…which is not the case (the message says “please connect your PSP through the USB port blablabla…”, which… I just f##king did!).

On a different computer, the error is different. The PSP is recognized, but Media Go tells me I need to update it to use it with the PSP Store.

Oh, well, I guess I can’t have homebrews AND be a nice guy, now, can I ?

Sorry, Sony, the money’s not for you…

36 Hours were spent between the time I “wanted” to buy the movie, and the time I was finally able to buy it. And how did I buy it, do you ask? Well, on Amazon…

The industry is not ready

To be honest, Sony’s not entirely to blame: The guys at the Customer service were nice and answered quickly (and accurately) to my questions, it’s not their fault that some stupid businessmen are still stuck in the 19th century (seriously, the fact that these guys still believe people live in the country they were born makes me wonder about their level of education. They should burn in Hell, next to the guys who came up with the great idea of “region locking” DVDs and blu rays…).
Also, it’s not only Sony. I tried the other day to buy some MP3s from Amazon and got the same kind of problem. Note that at least the message on Amazon’s website is clear (“sorry, only for people who live in the US”).
And finally, the fact that I’m on CFW doesn’t help much since I don’t want to upgrade.

But the real problem is the following: Pirate sites don’t ask me to be browsed with my PSP in order to download them. They don’t require me to give up on homebrews in order to watch a movie. They don’t require me to live in a specific country. They don’t prevent me from copying the movie on the device I want.
The movie industry as a whole is one century late with their business model. There are people in this world who would be ready to pay for a quality service matching their needs. I’m one of them. I’m ready to pay for digital content. But apparently Sony and the others aren’t ready for me. I’ll come back in 10 years, to see if IPism (it’s close to racism, but with your IP address) and DRMS have become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, I’m back to Amazon’s DVDs, and for the things I can’t find on Amazon, I know some Pirates on some Bay…

See you in 10 years, Sony…

  1. amorphophallus’s avatar

    Thank you for the nice story.
    I agree Sony is unskillful of the content business.
    For example, They had the digital book for portable device. it’s failed soon.
    It was just an infrastructure, no fun no value point.
    Now they’re tryng to new market like iTMS but nothing changed.
    I feel deplorable that they think only protect to thier rights and money desperately.


  2. gdspsp’s avatar

    i feel your PAIN… i live in the US, and even have a 2nd 2K model with 5.50 f/w. in my PSN store it shows a “click-able” box for movies, however the link seems broken because nothing loads. i have a ps3 and i know there is a tab you can use to switch to the movies, but the psp PSN seems to lack this. ultimately i still find it easier to buy the DVD/Blu-ray and just convert (now those i can do!!) I think the User interface just is not as friendly it should be. much less i agree with your point about globalization, many people do not live in countries they were born it. digital distribution is a great possibility to still get “products” in one’s native language.


  3. boupy’s avatar

    Well, leaving in France, I encountered the same problem while trying to find a popular french movie released 2 years ago on french platforms… It’s also like protected games (ex: spore): a pain in the a** for honest buyers… It’s just one piece of the global Human paradox (just have a look at the european elections to see another one…).


  4. MrSpud’s avatar

    Yep, like the comment above, copy protection for PC games is something only used to annoy legit, honest customers. All, and I mean all PC games get cracked within 24 hours, some with a user friendly batch file to do all the patching for you.

    I recall buying PC games in the past and then using a crack so I can avoid the cd-check and so I can install it on more than one PC/laptop.

    Let’s take a typical PC game, I would guess 75% of the players bought it and put up with the copy protection, 24% pirated it and never had to worry about copy protection and 1% pirated it but couldn’t get around the copy protection, like the 10 years old kids.

    So why bother with it? For the 1% of dummies who didn’t know about the crack? All the legit buyers have to put up with the increasingly annoying copy protections that doesn’t really do anything, since when is it less troublesome to pirate a game then to buy it?


  5. NyghtcrawleR’s avatar

    I think the PSN store for the most part is easy to work…on the PS3. It is straight forward and I have no qualms with it.

    Now I never tried with my psp, so thats another story.

    One thing I will say is that I will never touch the PSN video service. It is just not worth it for me. The movies are overpriced for what you get and the limitations on the videos are absurd.

    Here is the U.S. I will just stick with netflix and convert my own movies for the psp if I want to.

    Plus since I have a ps3 I have to watch me some blurays as the video content on the store just cant compare.


  6. RaphaelDDL’s avatar

    The thing that lacks in most of companies nowdays is clear:

    They do not hired a designer to make a deep study of friendly-interface, with usability and accessibility in mind.

    This way, we will always get crap services. Google always hire people that have knowedge of accessibility and usability, because doing messed and/or too complicated stuff will affect the company’s name and image. (I know about that because google in my city is hiring a designer with those knowledges and yeah, i applied xD)

    Anyways, thanks for telling us your story, was a great user experience to be reminded as ‘never do such complicated thing’.



  7. Neeeeeeeeeerd’s avatar

    ‘Piracy’ is what dumb niggas do with your mom.
    Freely sharing stuff, on the other hand, is AWESOME.


  8. Faith Simmons’s avatar

    Playstation is the best gaming console that i have owned. Me and my brother are addicted in playing games on Playstation.~.;


  9. luisdgc’s avatar

    If you think japan or the US are f*cked with DRM and digital content,
    imagine things in mexico,
    whe are really screwed here


  10. VV’s avatar

    You are absolutely right. The DRMs sucks and businessmen lacking consideration for customers sucks too.


  11. Lone Wolf’s avatar

    I’m with you on this man! :)


  12. Allex’s avatar

    Just the thing, that I can download the movie DVDRip f.e. in 2 minutes from a tracker keeps me downloading from a tracker, neither looking for some more complicated and time wasting process like buying movies from an official store.

    Is it really so hard to make an official torrent tracker, where you can buy a movie-game legally? Just add some extra bonuss or discount for those, who are seeding hard and that’s it. You’ll get the biggest store/tracker, less piracy, more speed…


  13. Techni’s avatar

    While I agree DRM sucks, “Unfortunately, because you are using a Japanese IP Address to access the North American PlayStation®Store, you will not be able to purchase the content that you want such as the movie “Bolt”.”

    Is not Sony’s fault, but copyright laws. Sony of America doesnt have the rights to distribute those movies in your area, so they have to do IP filtering


  14. wololo’s avatar

    @Techni: Sony of America is probably not responsible for this entire mess. But some people at Sony of america were responsible for accepting a DRM mechanism in their store. Some people at Sony of america accepted to sign contracts with companies that try to control the international market with obsolete means.
    Also, obviously, some people at Sony decided to put yet again a region control system in the Blu ray system.

    Finally, copyright laws have close to nothing to do with the region controls. Rather than copyright laws, it’s contracts between various companies that prevent sony from selling these contents in various places. These contracts have nothing to do with the law.


  15. jaja2u’s avatar

    I have this same problem to. I don’t want to upgrade to 6.31 to access PSN. After installing almost 1 gigibyte of mediago required shit, it comes up with an error that nobody understands everytime I try to download something. And now there is no more PC store without mediago.

    Sony really didn’t think anything over at all. They just lost a valuable customer.


  16. amogrr’s avatar

    hahahaha. What a treasure! Can’t believe I haven’t read this stuff yet!


  17. PSPatapon’s avatar

    Wololo, i love reading your blog is soo intresting! (:
    And yes sony is very bad… but they make good products!


  18. Zodd’s avatar

    You are right mate…you see, I live in Brasil, tried to be a “nice guy” too, but the taxes on games here is awful (something like +80% in dollars, you have to double it to convert to our money). So, til today I have a psp 2001 with OFW 6.31…..but my psn account, I had to search some guy’s addres in the internet to have an account, because “in your country theres no service at all” ….and they warn you just after you make an account….pretty ridiculous, but now I’m able to download demos and buy ps1 classics for 5 or 10 dollars.

    But I can’t wait to a hen for 6.31 that doesn’t need buying anything (like the patapon exploit for 6.20)….but it seems that’ll be only available in the middle of next year, so, until there, I’ll have to save up some money to buy ONE GAME.

    Great critic….too bad sony doesn’t care about other countries’ costumers


  19. hblfangirl12345’s avatar

    i have 6.20 wit hbl 101 but i don’t wanna upgrade but i live in Africa i cant buy anything period no games no movies from PS store i hate Sonys ip filtering


  20. Ivo’s avatar

    I’m from Brazil. I’ve been to England and bought there a psp 3000 (for 300 reais (brazilian currency) less than it would cost here.

    I was very happy untill i saw the “movie umd” block.

    Now I want to KILL the guy that decided to region block video umds (and dvds.)

    Same thing with a Portable DVD I own. It’s from spain and I can’t play original dvds from Brazil.

    Sad, uh?


  21. Fashion Magazines’s avatar

    What about netfilx or hulu plus? I have lived outside of the States and know what it is like to long for something familiar from home.



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