A few days ago I bought the free PS Plus games on my PS5 as I usually do. And as always, later that day I checked my phone and saw a series of emails from Sony confirming alleged purchases, which caused a slight panic before I remembered that it was just from Sony confirming that I had “purchased” free games. This cycle has been going on for a few years now. I feel that telling thrill every time.
On PS4 and PS5, you can find free games, free DLC, apps, and PS Plus games. None of this content will cost you a dime, but when you “buy it” or “add it to your library,” Sony still sees it as a transaction. As such, the company sends you an email within minutes of entering Netflix or Warframe or some other piece of free content. And he does it every time. If that sounds boring, it is! It’s also incredibly strange that this is the default behavior for email notifications and receipts.
I dug through the settings a bit before writing this and couldn’t find any buttons or features to disable or adjust these emails. I could change my email address to an account that I don’t use as often, but I would probably miss some important PSN ID emails. I could create a separate Gmail folder to capture these notifications, but that doesn’t stop them from coming. It just shifts the problem to a different area, which is usually not how you solve problems.
You would now think that I would be used to these emails. Nope!
I always get a hint of fear when I see something in my inbox about newly completed purchases. Did I buy something? Did someone hack me? I recently had to deal with a debit card issue that left me a little nervous about random purchases, so these emails, as the kids say, hit differently these days. I have also spent much of my life with little to no money, so I am very careful about what and when I buy. These emails instantly throw my brain into panic mode. “Oh no! I’m going to waste all my money. I’m ruined! Oh my God !!”
When I mentioned those boring and scary emails in Kotaku Slack I got feedback almost immediately. One Mike Fahey mentioned an interesting wrinkle: he has children. So every time he gets this email he worries that one of his adorable kids has bought something, possibly with his credit card. Looking around Twitter and Reddit, you can find a lot of other people complaining and joking about superfluous PlayStation emails as well.
Sony is not alone in this area. Epic offers free games every month and every time you pick one up you can also expect a worthless receipt. For some reason, it doesn’t bother me as much, probably because I’m in front of my computer when I pick up the games, so my brain hasn’t had time to forget what I did. Plus, Epic’s store doesn’t have tons of free apps that trigger emails as well. Still, Epic, you can also stop emailing me about free stuff.
It’s possible that a way to turn them off is buried somewhere, or a way to filter them out pretty finely in a folder that I can ignore – ideally the trash. But it looks like in 2021 Sony should be able to distinguish between when I actually buy something and when I just click on a free download. It can’t be that hard! And if in the future the company could just show a little restraint with receipts, it could save me, and apparently a few others, a lot of mini panic attacks when we check our emails.