Sony announced today, after years of begging, an announcement, and then a limited beta period that lasted longer than anyone expected, that PSN name changes are finally live. At last, KhaosRockTeen420 can become ResponsibleDad7, throwing away the last clinging vestiges of a dumb and irresponsible youth. When many of us made our original PSN IDs, we were younger than we are now (on account of that’s how time works) and we were into far different things. TheNickleBackKid might not be so into the legendary Canadian rock group anymore, and B1gB4llzGawd might regret having gamed the system in order to get a lame and suggestive name through the filters.
The problem all along has been someone’s entire PlayStation life(style) basically being attached to the ID. Purchased games, saves, trophies, etc. were all linked to your account with that unchangeable ID. So suddenly when you found yourself a decade older and matured past a name that an immature self had created, you were in too deep to let it go. The choice is either to get a new PSN and lose everything, or carry on the legacy of a younger and dumber you.
Sony’s problem was in how it implemented IDs, not as an overlay, but as the core string identifying your account. Changing this ID becomes problematic with how it’s built into the core aspects of not only the system and your account, but into many games too. Xbox, on the other hand, creates a unique number or string of letters that are essentially a user’s account, and then has the display name as the ID over the top, which allows them to allow for easy changes. This is evident by Sony allowing you to revert back to your old usernames if you want. Presumably, nobody will be able to take your current ID, even if you change it, again, because of how embedded it is.
The PS4 has had hints of this system in place for a while now. Real name requests show that the PlayStation 4 has had the ability to offer a name overlay on top of the underlying PSN ID, and many games even support it. I would guess that PSN ID changes utilize some of the same functionality as real names, especially because you can technically go in and set your “real name” to whatever you want it to display.
Should I Change My PSN ID?
That’s the question that’s been on everyone’s mind for a while now, but perhaps no more so than today. Now that it’s actually here and real, those wistful days of wishful thinking are suddenly put to the test. It’s like dreaming of your perfect tattoo and then finally being put on the spot to get one. Do you go through with it? Are you really that dissatisfied with your original PSN name? Is the new one actually all that much better?
When I made my original PSN ID, it was my nickname at the time, a name that I held for years. I had best friends that didn’t even know my real name, and that persisted for nearly ten years. In my early 20s, that name started to fade out of my real life interactions. By 25, it was all but a memory, and only friends I play with online still call me that nickname, on account of my PSN ID. Now it’s not childish or anything, and still fits me quite well, but I guess my wife wasn’t too hip calling me “Wedge” (which came from “Wedge of Wood”).
Likewise, the number is equally important to me. I’m a big fan of prime numbers for some reason, as well as The Dark Tower. So I slapped that number on the end of my name. To some people it may just seem like Wedge1-18 were taken, but the number was chosen because it meant something to me. Admittedly, Wedge19 isn’t nearly as bad as some names out there, but it still has reasons I might want to change it.
Then again, I’ve grown attached to it. It still means something to me. My friends know me by that name, and 19 is still pretty much the coolest number out there (fight me). Sure, I’m not all that thrilled having numbers in my name now; what a late 90s/early 00s thing, right? But what would I change it to? I could match it to my Twitter handle, which is admittedly the strongest argument I have had for changing it and syncing up my online IDs, but am I even all that attached to my Twitter name? Will that change one day too?
Plus there are all of the caveats that Sony lists, problems than can potentially occur if you decide to change your name. Am I so opposed to my current one that I’d risk losing progress in games, access to game licenses I own, and lost trophy progress just because the grass seemed greener? Plus I already barely know or recognize 70% of the people on my friends list, what happens when I change my name (or when they all do) and we just end up confusing each other even more? It’s just not worth the hassle in my case. But maybe it is for you.
Married women know the struggles. This whole thing seems like a tempered facsimile of what my wife’s been going through for the last eight years as she’s worked to change her last name. She has my admiration for dealing with all of that, while I can’t even be arsed to risk being misidentified during a Destiny 2 Raid. I’m glad that the option for PSN name changes is there for those that really need it, but for me? I’m happy I was a relatively smart and mature teenager when I made my PSN all those years ago. I’m sticking by my original decision.
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