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Is there a free PSN account? The complete guide to PlayStation Network access

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely create a free PlayStation Network account to access core features. While paid PlayStation Plus unlocks bonuses like free monthly games, a basic free PSN account allows you to play online, chat with friends, and download entertainment apps. Read on for the full scoop on free vs paid accounts.

What exactly is PlayStation Network?

PlayStation Network, better known as PSN, is the online service for PlayStation consoles. PSN lets PlayStation 4 and 5 owners do things like:

  • Play games online in multiplayer mode
  • Purchase and download games from the PlayStation Store
  • Chat and message friends
  • Share gameplay videos and screenshots
  • Access entertainment apps like Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube

PSN serves as the gateway to online functionality on PlayStation. An account lets you take full advantage of your PS5 or PS4‘s connectivity and social capabilities.

Sony offers PSN in both free and premium paid subscription forms. Let‘s take a closer look at what each tier provides.

Free PSN accounts vs PlayStation Plus explained

PlayStation Network is divided into two account types – free and premium. Here‘s an overview of each one:

Free PSN accounts

What you get:

  • Online multiplayer in free-to-play games like Fortnite

  • Access to the PlayStation Store

  • Messaging and Party Chat

  • Share Play for 60 minutes per session

  • 100GB of cloud storage for saves

  • Streaming apps like Netflix and Disney+


  • No online multiplayer in paid games

  • No monthly free games

  • No Share Play pass the 60 minute limit

  • No cloud storage beyond 100GB

PlayStation Plus paid membership

Benefits unlocked:

  • Online multiplayer in ALL games

  • 2-3 free monthly downloadable games

  • Exclusive discounts on PlayStation Store

  • Cloud storage for game saves

  • Share Play with no time limits


  • $9.99 monthly / $24.99 quarterly / $59.99 annually

So in summary – a free PSN account allows access to social features, apps, and free online multiplayer titles. Paid PlayStation Plus opens full online multiplayer access, free monthly games, unlimited cloud saves, and more.

Step-by-step guide to creating a free PSN account

Ready to join PlayStation Network with a free account? Here is a detailed walkthrough:

What you need:

  • A PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 console

  • An internet connection

  • A valid email address


  1. Turn on your PlayStation and connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or ethernet.

  2. From the main menu, open the PlayStation Store. This is the shopping bag icon.

  3. Press X on the "Sign In" option at the top right of the screen.

  4. Choose "Create New Account" if you don‘t already have a PSN account.

  5. Read and accept Sony‘s Terms of Service agreement.

  6. When prompted, provide your:

    • Online ID (this will be your PSN username)

    • Date of birth

    • Country

    • Email address

  7. Create a password and choose a security question in case you forget your password.

  8. Check your email inbox for a verification link from PlayStation and click it to activate your account.

  9. Return to your PS5/PS4, sign in with your new details, and you‘re all set!

The entire process takes about 5-10 minutes. As long as you have the required info, making a free PSN account is quick and painless.

Once registered, you can begin chatting with friends, downloading apps, playing free online games, and accessing limited Share Play sessions.

Can I play online multiplayer games with a free account?

One of the most common questions about free PSN accounts is whether you can play multiplayer online. The answer is yes, but with limitations.

If a game is free-to-play with no purchase required, you can play online multiplayer with a basic free PlayStation Network account. Examples include:

  • Fortnite
  • Call of Duty Warzone
  • Apex Legends
  • Genshin Impact

However, to play online in paid, non-free-to-play games, you need a premium PlayStation Plus subscription. For example:

  • Call of Duty Vanguard
  • FIFA 22
  • Elden Ring

So free accounts allow access to some but not all multiplayer titles. This limit is one of the main reasons to upgrade to paid PS Plus.

According to a 2021 report, over 47 million PlayStation Network users had a paid PlayStation Plus subscription primarily for unrestricted multiplayer gaming. While free accounts offer social features, most gamers opt to pay for full online play.

How to upgrade from a free to a paid PSN account

If you want to upgrade your free PlayStation Network account to premium PS Plus, here‘s how:

  1. On your PS5/PS4 go to Settings > Users and Accounts > Subscriptions.

  2. Select PlayStation Plus > Join PlayStation Plus.

  3. Choose between a 1 month, 3 month, or 12 month membership plan.

    • 1 month = $9.99 / £6.99

    • 3 months = $24.99 / £19.99

    • 12 months = $59.99 / £49.99

  4. Enter your payment method – credit/debit card or PlayStation wallet funds.

  5. Confirm your subscription purchase.

Once PlayStation Plus activates, you‘ll have access to full online multiplayer in games, monthly free titles, cloud saves, Share Play without limits, and exclusive member discounts.

Upgrading is the best way to unlock PSN‘s premium features if you have an existing free account and want to step up your access. It literally takes minutes to convert to paid PS Plus!

Do free PlayStation Network accounts expire?

No, free PSN accounts do not expire, unlike paid PS Plus memberships. There is no time limit or renewal required to maintain a free PlayStation Network account.

As long as you sign in periodically to keep it active, a free PSN account remains open indefinitely. You won‘t lose access due to inactivity over time.

Paid memberships do expire after 1, 3, or 12 months depending on your subscription plan. But free accounts continue working with no expiration as long as the PlayStation Network itself stays online.

So don‘t worry about losing your free account if you take an extended gaming break. As long as you remember your sign-in details, you can pick up right where you left off thanks to non-expiring free access.

Can I keep my PS Plus monthly games if my membership lapses?

When your PlayStation Plus membership expires, you lose access to the monthly free games you‘ve obtained through the service. These games are only playable while your membership is active.

However, any games or DLC you purchase via the PlayStation Store remain yours even if your PS Plus expires.

Here are some key differences in what happens when your membership lapses:

  • Monthly free games – Become locked until you re-subscribe

  • Free PlayStation Plus game packs – No longer accessible

  • Purchased games and DLC – Remain fully playable

  • Saves in the cloud storage – Still accessible but cannot upload new saves

So be sure to download any free monthly PlayStation Plus games you want while subscribed, as you‘ll lose the ability to play them once it expires. But anything bought outright will not suddenly lock.

Clever uses for a free PlayStation Network account

While a free PSN account is limited compared to paid PlayStation Plus, here are some clever ways to maximize what it offers:

Try before you buy

Use Share Play to preview games owned by a friend for up to 1 hour, helping decide what to purchase.

Multiplayer trial runs

Experience a game‘s online multiplayer via Share Play before buying it yourself.

Temporary membership

Sign up for a free account if only needing PSN temporarily, like while traveling.

Kids accounts

Perfect for setting up child profiles with parental controls restricting spending.

Subscription breaks

Maintain a free account as a placeholder during periods between PS Plus memberships.

Store discounts

Grab PlayStation Store deals, free avatars and themes available to all PSN users.

So whether trying games, cutting costs, or keeping your profile active during breaks from PS Plus, a free account opens possibilities.

Limitations to be aware of with free PSN access

While free PlayStation Network accounts provide basic social and gaming features, there are some definite limitations to consider:

  • No online multiplayer in paid games – Only free titles allow multiplayer access without PS Plus. Big limitation for most gamers.

  • Limited Share Play – Can only use Share Play in 1 hour intervals, with 24 hours needed between sessions.

  • No monthly games – 100+ free games each year require an active PS Plus membership.

  • No Groups – Can‘t create private Groups without PlayStation Plus.

  • Fewer game and system updates – Paid accounts get more frequent updates and beta trials.

  • No Share Play in VR – Virtual reality Share Play requires a PS Plus subscription.

So if you play popular online games, want free monthly games, or care about frequent updates, a free account may be too limited. But for exclusives, singleplayer titles, or kids, the restrictions matter less.

Using a free account to "try before you buy" PlayStation Plus

An excellent use case for free PlayStation Network access is trying PlayStation Plus temporarily before committing to a paid subscription.

By creating a free PSN account, you can get a taste of social features like Share Play and Party Chat. This helps you evaluate whether you‘d benefit from upgrading to paid PS Plus.

Sony even offers 14-day free PlayStation Plus trials for new accounts sometimes. When available, definitely take advantage to test drive the premium features.

With a free account, be sure to check out:

  • Playing co-op or multiplayer in free games like Fortnite with friends
  • Sampling friends‘ games for an hour using Share Play
  • Chatting in a Party with your friend group

Based on this hands-on experience, you can better judge whether paid PS Plus is worth the $60 annual fee to you personally.

So use a free account to take PlayStation Network‘s social gaming for a spin before paying. Going hands-on is the best way to know if you need more.

A brief history of paid subscriptions on PlayStation Network

PlayStation Network began as a free service with no paid membership required. When PSN launched in 2006, online multiplayer gaming was open to all with a free account.

This changed when Sony introduced their premium subscription – PlayStation Plus – in 2010. Initially, a paid membership only offered extras like free monthly games. Multiplayer remained free.

But after PlayStation 4 arrived in late 2013, Sony began limiting online multiplayer to paid subscribers only. This strategy aligned with Xbox requiring Xbox Live Gold memberships for online play.

Today, free PSN accounts can still access social features, apps, and free-to-play gaming. But for the full experience, PlayStation Plus is considered essential by most users especially for multiplayer.

The bottom line – should you get a free account or PlayStation Plus?

So should you get a free PlayStation Network account or pay for PlayStation Plus? Here are some final recommendations:

  • If you primarily enjoy singleplayer games and exclusives like God of War or Uncharted, a free account may suit you fine.

  • If you‘re on a budget but want basic online social features, free PSN does the job.

  • If setting up an account for a child, free is ideal to restrict spending and access.

  • If you want to try before you buy PS Plus, start with a free account to test the experience.

  • If you plan on playing multiplayer games like Call of Duty or Destiny 2, definitely upgrade to PlayStation Plus.

Both account types have their place. But for most active online gamers, paid PlayStation Plus is worth it for unlimited multiplayer gaming, free monthly games, and solid social tools.

Hopefully this guide has helped demystify PlayStation Network memberships! Sign up, try it out, and game on.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.