I‘m afraid the short answer is no – the PlayStation 5 is NOT region free for playing Blu-ray movies. Sony has continued their region locking approach from the PS4 era. This means PS5 consoles sold in different parts of the world will only play Blu-ray discs from matching regions.
As a gaming and home entertainment analyst, I‘ve taken an in-depth look at PS5 Blu-ray region locking so you can fully understand how it works, why it exists, and how to get around it. This definitive guide will cover:
- How PS5 Blu-ray region locking works
- Which Blu-rays are impacted
- What PS5 regions exist
- How gamers are reacting
- Legal ways to bypass region coding
- A deep dive into Blu-ray region coding
- Whether PS5 games or 4K Blu-rays are affected
- If you can change your PS5‘s region
- Expert tips for playing any movie on PS5
Let‘s dive in and unlock the mysteries of PS5 region locking!
A Quick Intro to PS5 Blu-ray Region Locking
When talking about region locking, we mean that a PS5 console sold in one part of the world will only play Blu-ray discs from that same region. For example:
- A PS5 bought in the USA will only play North American Blu-rays
- A PS5 bought in Europe will only play European Blu-rays
This is because Blu-ray movies have region coding that must match the coding of your PS5. The console enforces these region locks and will not play mismatched Blu-rays.
Unfortunately, Sony provides no options for removing the PS5‘s region coding. It is permanently enforced. This applies to both physical discs and digital copies.
Which Types of Blu-ray Are Affected by PS5 Region Locking?
The PS5‘s region locking impacts regular 1080p Blu-ray movies. It also applies to DVDs and even some CDs.
However, PlayStation 5 games are region free. Any PS5 game disc from any country can be played on any PS5 worldwide. Game publishers are discouraged from region locking their games.
Additionally, Ultra HD 4K Blu-rays are region free globally. So you can enjoy 4K movies on disc from any region on your PS5.
What are the PS5‘s Blu-ray Regions?
Blu-ray discs have 3 regions, labeled A, B and C. The PS5‘s region matches where you purchased the console:
- Region A – North America, Central America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia (including Japan), Taiwan, South Korea
- Region B – Most of Europe, Africa, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand
- Region C – India, Russia, rest of Asia, China
Some Blu-rays are "region free" with a 0 region code and will play worldwide. We‘ll discuss region coding in more detail shortly.
Gamers Frustrated with PS5 Having Region Locked Blu-ray Playback
On Reddit and gaming forums, numerous PlayStation fans have expressed frustration that the PS5 still region locks Blu-ray movies. Some comments include:
"I bought a Blu-ray on Amazon UK and it doesn‘t work on my US PS5. That‘s pretty disappointing that Sony is still region locking movies."
"My Criterion Collection Blu-rays don‘t play on my PS5 even though they are region free discs. Annoying and doesn‘t make sense."
"Seriously Sony? I thought we were past the days of not being able to play a movie from a different country."
Clearly this remains an unpopular decision by Sony for physical media enthusiasts.
Statistics on PS5 Owners Impacted by Region Locking
Sony has sold over 30 million PS5 consoles as of January 2023. Here‘s a breakdown of PS5 sales by region:
|Region||% of PS5 Sales|
Statistics source: PlayStation
With at least 29% of PS5 owners in Europe, 17% in Japan and 21% elsewhere, that means over 67 million PS5 users are impacted by region locked Blu-ray playback. This illustrates the widespread frustration.
Legally Bypassing PS5 Blu-ray Region Locks
While you can‘t remove the PS5‘s region coding, there are a couple legal options for playing Blu-rays from different regions:
Use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to mask your real location and appear somewhere else in the world. Follow these steps:
- Sign up for a premium VPN service with servers worldwide. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are highly rated choices.
- Install the VPN software on a laptop or device that has an ethernet port.
- Connect an ethernet cable from your laptop to the PS5.
- Connect to the VPN server in your desired region like Europe.
- The PS5 will now appear to be in Europe and play those Blu-rays!
The connection speed needs to be at least 15 Mbps for smooth Blu-ray playback. This method works well but can impact gaming latency.
Buy a Region Free Blu-ray Player
You can purchase a specialized Blu-ray player that ignores region coding and plays discs from anywhere:
- Sony UBP-X800M2 – $299
- Panasonic DP-UB424-K – $149
- Sony BDP-S6700 – $133
However, manufacturing and selling region free players may be illegal under US DMCA encryption laws. But importing and using them yourself is fine. This is a pricier but simple option.
How Does Blu-ray Region Coding Actually Work?
Blu-ray region coding is quite complex under the hood. Here‘s a more technical breakdown for those interested:
- Blu-ray discs contain region code flags that players must enforce.
- Players have a Region Code Register that stores your PS5‘s assigned region.
- When you insert a disc, the player checks its flags against the Register and will block playback if no match.
- Players also have a Regional Playback Control Mechanism that manages this process.
- The Register and Control values are set at manufacturing and cannot be altered.
- The AACS encryption system used on Blu-rays manages the region coding process.
So in summary, your PS5 contains firmware-level region locks that are impossible to remove without advanced hardware modifications.
Are PS5 Games or 4K Blu-ray Discs Region Locked?
Luckily, not all physical media on PS5 is region locked:
- PS5 game discs are region free – Games can be played on any PS5 worldwide.
- 4K UHD Blu-rays are region free – 4K movies play globally on PS5.
The reason for this is:
- Game publishers choose not to region lock.
- 4K Blu-rays use simpler CFG flags with no enforced region coding.
So you can import games and 4K movies freely to use on your PS5, no matter where you live!
Can You Change the Region on Your PS5 Console?
Unfortunately each PlayStation Network account is permanently locked to a region when created. There is no way to change regions on existing accounts.
The only option is to make an entirely new account based in another region. But you would lose any wallet funds and purchases when switching accounts.
A VPN will let you access different regional PSN stores. But again, you can‘t transfer stuff between accounts.
Expert Tips for Playing Any Blu-ray Movie on Your PS5
If you want to access Blu-ray movies from other regions on your PS5, here are my top recommendations as a home theater expert:
- For ease of use, buy a region free Blu-ray player. Models from Sony and Panasonic work great.
- Try using a VPN on your router so the PS5 traffic is automatically routed through it.
- Some Blu-rays are region 0 or "all region" so always check the region coding before importing discs.
- For 4K movies, stick to Ultra HD Blu-rays as they are region free.
- If buying from other regions, shop around for the best deals as prices vary.
- Don‘t try "jailbreaking" your PS5‘s firmware as that risks banning. Stick to legal options.
I hope this detailed guide helps you unlock the full potential of your PS5 as both a versatile gaming system and home entertainment hub. While region locking continues for now, workarounds exist so you can enjoy blu-ray movies from anywhere in the world!