When you receive your PlayStation 4, you get far more than a gaming console. You also get access to the PlayStation Network, an entertainment service that offers movie streaming, music, TV programming, and of course, online gaming. If you're new to the PS4 and everything that goes with it, check out this handy overview of the PlayStation Network.
To play on your PS4, you'll need to have a PlayStation Network account. You can create an account in mere minutes by entering a few basic pieces of information, such as your name, date of birth, state, and language. You'll need to come up with a password as well. Make it a strong one, over 8 characters, with a couple of numbers and special characters thrown in to stall potential hackers. You can also sign in with your Facebook account if you don't want to go through the entire account creation process.
User Profile Setup
Next, you set up your user profile, including your online ID or username, the name everyone will see when you're on the PlayStation Network. Think about this username carefully, because once you choose it, you can't change it.
Choose a profile picture or an avatar to go with your username. You can also customize your profile with information about yourself.
With your PlayStation Network access, you'll enjoy the convenience of automatic updates to your PS4.
Some free-to-play games are available through the PlayStation Network - on a monthly basis, so you'll always be able to find something new and fresh to play, even if you don't have the budget for a brand-new game.
Live Broadcasting and Social Media
With your PSN account, you can access a selection of live broadcasting stations. YouTube, Twitch, Ustream, and Niconico are all included for free. You'll also be able to post updates and share game-related media via your favorite social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Dailymotion, Facebook, and others.
In the PlayStation Network, you have your PSN Wallet. This enables you to make digital purchases of entire games or to buy more content for games that you already own. You'll need to "fund" the wallet first, though. Through your PS4, go to Settings > PSN > Log in and choose "Fund Wallet." You can redeem a gift card code, use a prepaid PlayStation Store card, or input credit card information that you want to have on file. If you don't like keeping the credit card information in your account, you can delete it at any time and simply re-enter it whenever you need to make a purchase.
With your free PSN account, you get voice messaging, voice chat, limited online multiplayer gaming, and access to PlayStation Music, PlayStation Memories, PlayStation Now, PlayStation Video, and PlayStation Vue. If you have subscriptions to streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, or Amazon Instant Video, you can access all of that content through your PS4 as well, using the PlayStation Network.
The PlayStation Plus Upgrade
Pay a yearly fee and you'll have a subscription to PlayStation Plus, where you'll get access to more exclusive content. Every month, you'll see new free-to-play games, in addition to those already available through the regular PSN. These Instant Game Collection titles include some unique indie games that often prove to be PS4 user favorites. If you download a game for free using your PlayStation Plus membership, it is yours until you decide to cancel the membership.
PlayStation Plus enables you to play games online with your friends. In addition, the membership permits you to save your games in the cloud. That option in itself makes the membership fee worthwhile for many gamers. It's good to know that your hard-earned progress is safely stored in the cloud, even if something happens to your PS4.
Are you ready to explore the PlayStation Network? Tell us which PSN features you love and which ones you just can't stand.