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Why are my free PS Plus games locked?

If you‘re a PlayStation Plus subscriber and suddenly find that some of your free PS Plus games have a lock icon on them, it can be confusing and frustrating. Don‘t worry – in most cases, this issue can be easily fixed.

The locked symbol typically means there is some kind of license issue, where the PlayStation Network is unable to verify your access rights to the game. This could be due to an expired subscription, incorrect system settings, syncing issues, or server problems.

By following some simple troubleshooting steps, you should be able to get your free games unlocked and playable again in no time. We‘ll walk through the most common reasons for PS Plus games locking and how to restore access.

Expired PlayStation Plus Membership

The most likely culprit for locked PS Plus games is an expired subscription. PlayStation Plus is required to maintain access to any games claimed as part of the monthly Instant Game Collection.

If your membership lapses, the licenses for these games are revoked and you‘ll see the lock icon when you try to open them. All previously claimed PS Plus games will remain associated with your account though, so renewing your membership is all it takes to restore access.

Here are some tips for keeping track of your PS Plus subscription:

  • Check the expiration date – Go to Settings > Account Management > Account Information to see your current PS Plus expiration date.
  • Turn on auto-renewal – So you never accidentally lose access by forgetting to manually renew.
  • Add renewal reminders – Use calendar alerts to prompt you when renewal is coming up.

Once you renew your PS Plus membership, previously claimed games should become available again within a few minutes. You may need to manually restore licenses as outlined below.

Incorrect Primary PS4 System

To share PlayStation Plus benefits like online multiplayer and monthly games across accounts on the same PS4, that system must be activated as your Primary PS4.

If another PS4 is set as your Primary, other users on your console will not have access to games claimed through your membership. This can result in PS Plus games appearing locked.

Here‘s how to check and update your Primary PS4 designation:

  1. Go to Settings > Account Management > Activate as Your Primary PS4
  2. If this shows a different system, deactivate that console in your account settings
  3. Activate your preferred PS4 as your Primary

With the correct Primary PS4 set, your games should now be shared properly across accounts on that system.

Syncing Your Licenses

As you download games and content from PlayStation Network, licenses are synced to your console. Occasionally these licenses can become out of sync and require a manual refresh.

Follow these steps to synchronize your licenses and unlock any erroneous locks:

  1. Go to Settings > Account Management > Restore Licenses
  2. Select Restore and wait for the process to complete
  3. Check if your games are now unlocked

This quick license restore usually resolves any temporary glitches that were restricting access.

PlayStation Network Server Issues

Since PS Plus licenses are verified online, any interruption in PlayStation Network connectivity can also lead to games appearing locked.

When the PSN servers encounter problems, this connection is disrupted. To see if servers are down, check the PSN status page:

This page tracks any ongoing network issues and maintenance. If the servers are down, just wait a bit and try again later once services are restored. Any lock icons due to temporary outages will disappear once connectivity is re-established.

Game Not Yet Available

One innocuous reason you may see a lock icon is that the game is not yet available to play.

The upcoming PS Plus games for the following month are announced ahead of time, usually on the last Wednesday of the month. These games will show up in your library but remain locked until they officially become available on the first Tuesday of the next month.

So if you ever see a lock on a newly announced PS Plus game, it simply means the release date has not yet arrived. Check back on the first Tuesday of the month and you‘ll be able to download and play as normal.

Corrupted Data

In rare cases, game data corruption can also cause PS Plus titles to lock up. If you‘ve tried all other troubleshooting steps and the game still refuses to work, corrupted data may be to blame.

Follow these steps to remove corrupted files:

  1. Delete the game data. Your save files are stored separately and won‘t be affected.
  2. Try downloading and reinstalling the game.
  3. If the lock persists, you may need to initialize your PS4 system software as a last resort.

Initializing will wipe your PS4 back to factory settings, so only attempt this if you‘re certain corruption is causing the issue and other options have failed.

Contact PlayStation Support

If you continue experiencing issues with locked PlayStation Plus games after trying all applicable troubleshooting, it‘s time to contact PlayStation Support.

Reach out to their online, phone, or chat support with details on:

  • When the lock icons started appearing
  • Games affected
  • Steps attempted to resolve it
  • Any error messages encountered

With this information, their technicians can better identify the underlying problem and provide tailored solutions for your locked PS Plus games.

Preventing Locked Games

While frustrating when they happen, most cases of locked PlayStation Plus titles can be easily fixed by renewing licenses or restoring subscriptions. Here are some tips to avoid this issue occurring in the first place:

  • Enable auto-renewal – So your PS Plus never unintentionally lapses.
  • Note expiration dates – And renew ahead of time to prevent any accidental lapse.
  • Use your Primary PS4 – For downloading and playing PS Plus games.
  • Check server status – During PSN outages games can appear locked.
  • Initialize regularly – A full initialization clears any corrupted data.

With good PS Plus practices, you shouldn‘t have to deal with inexplicably locked games. But if you do, this guide has you covered for troubleshooting the problem and getting back to playing. Let us know if restoring access to your PlayStation Plus library was as simple as renewing a subscription or if additional steps were needed!



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