How to switch your PS Vita to a US account (or any other country)
One of the most annoying things about globalization is that the only ones really benefiting it are the corporations, and not really the customers. Sony can get all their PS Vitas manufactured for a very low price in some factory in China, but then resell it to you at a price that varies depending on where you live. The same is true for video games and pretty much every cultural product today. This is even more infuriating when it comes to digital products, when the distribution costs are practically nonexistent, and you know that the cost difference goes directly in the margin.
This is one of the reasons you might want to create a US PSN account. In the land of the free, (legit) cultural products are notoriously cheaper than in the rest of the world, thanks to a healthy competition taking the prices down.
You might have other reasons to want to look at the US market: maybe, like me, you live in a foreign country and don’t really want to pay for games that are localized in a language you don’t speak fluently. Or maybe you just don’t like the games/movies selection in your country (again, a very true statement for foreigners like me). Maybe there’s that one specific game you’d like to get on your Vita, that is not available in your country.
For more details, you can look at this article I wrote where I describe how PSN Games are 50% more expensive in Europe, and why and how I switched definitely to a US PSN account. In that article I explain how you can easily buy PSN Credit at face value even though you don’t live in the US, how to access Netflix, etc…
Sadly, Sony have made it relatively difficult to switch your account’s locale on the Vita. Unlike the PS3, where each account can be tied to a specific country, the Vita allows you to only have one account, and will be pretty tough when it comes to switching it. You’ll basically have to do a factory reset AND format your memory stick (or count on one memory stick per account). Still, in some cases, it might be worth it.
So how do you proceed to switch your Vita from one account to an other? The following video shows you the steps. For those who don’t like to watch a boring youtube video, I’ve summarized the steps at the bottom of this article
- The first step is to “restore your system” (Settings > Format > Restore the PS Vita system). This will, among other things, deactivate your vita, and is the same thing you would do if you wanted to “clean up” your vita before selling it to someone else.
- The Vita will then reboot. At this point, the “trick” is to be sure to select the “right” country at the initial set up, and create a PSN account for that country if you don’t already own one.
- since all your settings have been erased, you’ll have to enter your Wifi settings again, and also watch the boring introduction Vita video. Yes, Sony clearly made the Vita in a way that switching accounts would be painful
- The last step is to format your memory card (the Vita should directly ask you to do it. If not, you can access that feature in in Settings > Format). Memory cards on the Vita are tied to the account that formatted them. This means that you either have to have one memory stick per account, or you have to format your memory stick every time you switch account.
That’s it, you can now access the US PSN Store. Check here our tutorial on how you can buy PSN Credit for the US Store even when you don’t live in the US
One note: some unconfirmed rumors say that switching accounts frequently on a PS Vita can get it “locked” out of the PSN (similar to a hardware ban) and require you to call Sony’s customer service to unlock the device. I have yet to see this happen to me, but then again I’ve switched only a dozen times so far.