I Hate My Awful PSN Name

I Hate My Awful PSN Name

I hate my PlayStation Network ID so much.

I realise I have no one to blame for this but myself. When I got a PS3 back in late 2009, I could’ve chosen any online handle I wanted. I could’ve gone with something easy to pronounce, or clever — I could’ve used some riff on my name, or simply used my name and put a bunch of numbers after it.

But no. For reasons almost passing explanation, I chose to go with “idpl_mal.” Thanks to Sony’s inexplicable policy forbidding PSN users from ever changing their online IDs, it is a decision I have regretted — and been stuck with — ever since.

I guess I should explain why I decided to go with idpl_mal. It’s a music reference, and a purposefully obscure one. See, the modes of the major scale are Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian.… you know what, actually, I’ll spare you. Basically, it’s an acronym to demonstrate how cool and different and musical I am. It’s the worst.

In the five years since I created my PSN ID, I have come to loathe it. For starters, it’s impossible to say. I think I picked this handle at least in part because I didn’t want people to say mean things to me online, or to be able to otherwise identify me. I did not anticipate I would start playing online games with friendly allies — hello, Destiny — and that those games would require new acquaintances to quickly call out my name and ask for help/give me instructions. Good job, Kirk! You successfully picked a username that no one can pronounce.

It’s a weird enough name that I often have to explain it. People see a handle like idpl_mal and they wonder, “what does that mean?” Sometimes they ask. So, I have to go into a whole thing about modes of the major scale and I can hear their eyes glazing over (or worse, rolling). Every time this happens, I feel a sting of regret.

As I’ve already said, I understand that this is ultimately my fault. I’m the one who chose the name; I’m the one whose relative inexperience with online games led me to name myself after an unpronounceable music theory joke. All the same, it’s hard not to be mad at Sony, too.

It is a well-known, much-lamented fact that PSN users cannot ever (ever!) change their PSN IDs. Every single person using Sony’s online service is stuck with the name they chose when they first signed up. If they want to change, they will have to start a whole new account, which means losing whatever games and apps they have purchased over the years. The more Sony pushes us to buy games digitally, the more locked into our accounts we become. We are prisoners of progress.

(By way of comparison, it has been possible to change your Xbox Live Gamertag for ages — the first change is free, and subsequent changes each cost a small fee. Steam, meanwhile, has a fixed ID system, but you can change your top-level handle whenever you want. Similar to Sony, Nintendo does not currently allow users to change their Nintendo Network ID, but I don’t mind that as much, mostly because their service is much newer and I rarely play Wii U games online.)

In the fall of 2014, IGN got a wordy if unconvincing explanation for why PSN IDs continue to be locked. “We want to give you more control across your experience and your profile and your presence on the network,” said Sony America CEO Shawn Layden. “At the same time, as you’ll understand, we don’t want to make it so that you can go in, grief a bunch of people in Far Cry, change your avatar, change your username, go into CoD and grief everybody over there. We want to stop that.

“[We want to do name changing] in a way that’s transparent, but also don’t let people morph themselves, either. And yeah, it’s terrible that you have to make decisions on a service sometimes by optimising around the bad actor. I hate that we have to do that. So we’re trying to balance that between… the 99 per cent of users going to have a good experience, how can we help make that happen without giving one more tool to the bad actor to go in and ruin the experience for others?”

Mr. Layden is no doubt an intelligent man who cares a great deal about the well-being of PlayStation users, and it’s actually refreshing to hear a tech executive citing harassment concerns as a primary policy consideration. But: What the hell is he talking about? His explanation is so limp it barely holds up to a sidelong glance. Sony has left all of us languishing with unchangeable PSN IDs for years because they want to combat griefers? Are there really people who would go harass Far Cry players, then pay to change their PSN ID in order to go do it again in Call of Duty… but in disguise? Would Sony simply be unable to keep track of a user once they changed their username? I can’t get my head around this theoretical scenario.

The reasons for our fixed PSN IDs almost certainly go beyond Layden’s 2014 explanation. I don’t imagine that it’s as easy as flipping a switch, and that the only thing keeping Sony from doing so is their fear of an army of name-changing, morphing trolls. Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida recently Tweeted (in French!) that their engineers are still looking into a solution, but said he doesn’t know when, if ever, the feature might arrive. And so here we remain.

The reasons for the current state of affairs may remain murky, but one thing is clear: I don’t like my PSN ID. I really wish I could change it. I would happily pay upwards of $20 — maybe more! — for the privilege of doing so. I’m certain I’m not alone in this. Every time I see someone with a name like Assz_Drilla1978 or 420_sickKiid, I picture a grown adult with a job and kids who, once upon a time, chose a stupid online handle and has been stuck with it ever since.

I feel your pain, Assz_Drilla1978. I’m right there with you, 420_sickKiid. I hate my shitty PSN name too, and I hate that there’s still nothing I can do about it.


  • Yeah, the real reason has got to be that PSN is built in such a way that handle changes are not possible on a large scale without breaking something.

    But surely there is some way? I’ve heard of Sony changing handles due to profanity or the like so it must be possible, if not easy.
    Even if it you had to open a support ticket, loose all your trophies, + money, as a once off thing. I’d still do it. I don’t care about trophies, I just want to not lose my Destiny characters for example.

    • Just get all your friends to send you real name requests. That way, at least they’ll see your real name in larger font and the PSN name will be much smaller and unobtrusive 😉

  • Oh … Gee, Kirk … How about feeling sorry for the guy who has the PSN ‘BJ’ (plus some numbers at the end). Who woulda thunk it means something else other than my initials?!

    I’m secretly holding out hope (again) that there’ll be an announcement at PSX to let us change them.

    • I see you pop up on every post regarding PSN name changes and still, I laugh every time. Like a giddy schoolboy.

      At least it leaves you open to lame quips. Yep, you really blew it when you decided on using those initials.

  • There is actually a partial solution! By setting your “Primary PS4” on your existing account you make the games it owns available to all other accounts on that PS4. Then create your new PSN ID and you’ll still be able to play all your games.

  • I had mine changed recently. Though I did lose all of my trophies, friends list and my GTAV online progress got nuked, though seems to be recoverable after 3 weeks negotiating around with rockstar… So they can definitely do it, they just choose not to under ‘normal’ circumstances.

  • I thought there would have been an ‘easy’ way for them to allow the user one alias that ties back to the PSN name. That way, if they are being a total dick in a game, it doesn’t matter what their alias name is, it’s always going to tie them back to their PSN account.

    • Introducing an alias would be the way to go (and they’ve already done that with real names to an extent), but ALL existing games would need to be patched to support the alias. To do it without patching everything they’d need to simply rename the user IDs, but I suspect that won’t work either because they’re using them to reference each player at a database level, and changing the ID for a user across all the different systems at once is very high risk.

      • Take the existing user account, whatever it is. Make it a new entry in the database like “BASEID” or whatever you want to call it. That is what you start to migrate your management to using as the ID. Then you open up allowing users to change whatever used to the the base ID, and as the fields has not changed it’s name, all the games will still use that name?

        Or something like that. It can’t be too hard.

    • You would need 2 psplus subscriptions as when your primary account runs out the game would no longer be available

  • The real answer is that they most likely have multiple loosely coupled systems that are using the PSN ID to tie everything together. Some of these parts might be internal to Sony, and some might be the data third party developers hold for multi-player games.

    If they let you change your ID in the central identity service, it is quite possible that parts of your profile would effectively be lost as part of the transition. Worse, if someone switched to your old ID, they might inherit these lost profile components and get access to your private data.

    The obvious fix is to use a second ID for linking these services together that doesn’t change when the publicly visible ID changes. The problem is that even if they decided to start rolling a change like this out now, it could take a long time for all the third party systems to be updated to match.

    • It’s exactly what I have been thinking for years, copy the profileID in the database into a new field DisplayID, change the psn to display DIsplayID, ask all currently in development games to change to the new field and offer incentives for developers to patch their existing games.

    • I’d disagree, I think there is a simple solution.

      They clearly already have a ‘show real name’ feature that is built into all social and game user aspects. So to be able to have a ‘show custom nickname’ done the same way should not be any issue technically.

      The excuse about greifing is totally lame.

    • I like to imagine this is ‘the’ Colin and Greg.

      I also like my name – midnight launch of the PS3 scrambled to register it…. tho it is not original or even ‘good’ just the same username as above^^

  • I made the mistake of using my real name as my sony PSN ID. Effin idiot. Been regretting it ever since. Would love a rename option.

    As an old database programmer surely they never made the actual PSN name the primary key?

  • You also cannot reclaim an email address from an account. I accidentally created a new account tied to my new email. Whatever, I’ll just delete that account and change my email.

    Nope, can’t do that.

    Fuck you sony, fuck you.

        • o_o there’s always one.

          Short version: Hate my username(s), too attached to my trophies, hate my username(s), cycle repeats.

          I do the same with my Xbox account as well, but obviously everything stays intact.

          I also just did a quick count – it’s only 32 seperate accounts I have, apols for the embellishment.

  • I changed all my ID’s a couple of years ago now. I couldn’t change my PSN ID. Instead of creating a new one and having to manage two accounts with purchases, etc, I changed my name on Steam, Origin, XBL, but honestly just stopped using the PlayStation as much. I also just couldn’t find the appeal of paying for PSN when they wouldn’t even allow name changes.

    Having to choose between losing years of purchases, or keeping a nickname you came up with for online gaming when you were 14 is a stupid system.

  • I created a new one before buying my ps4. It didnt really phase me. Adding an option to change it would be welcomed though.

    How about a bloody option to disable the physical eject button’s connectivity though! I’m sick of my damn ps4 ejecting discs randomly. (Every supposed fix solves nothing either).

    • Mine did that. There was a screw on the side i had to mess with to stop it. Apparently was triggering the manual eject

      • I’ve done that. Lasted a month. Hoping it lasts a little longer this time.

        You’d think disabling the button itself would solve the problem. They just need to make it an option already.

    • I’ve had this problem twice and managed to fix it by powering off PS4, unplugging the AC and holding down the power button for 15 seconds to discharge any remaining electricity. But I’m sure you’ve already tried this and been unsuccessful.

      • Tried that along with the screw fix this weekend. Fingers crossed. It’s such s ridiculous issue and i just want a permanent solution that doesn’t involve me replacing the console.

  • A guy on my friends list after several years had Sony contact him and tell him he had to change his name due to a sneaky profanity in it.

    He got to email them five possible new usernames and they chose one to replace his name with all games, trophies and purchases still intact.

    I’d like to see how Sony explains that how it’s not a possible option for us but is for their technicians.

  • Ive had many problems with PSN, and this is only one of them. Thr biggest one is when I moved to the US i wanted to keep my account, but wanted to change the region for it. I did that with my Xbox Live account without a problem. Called up PSN and the customer service guy said explicitly that i will have to create a new account if i wanted to use anything like download codes from the US.

    Luckily if both accounts consider the console their primary, then downloads are good as gold. But getting PS+ was a pain in the arse because i had to send money back to mum to get the years subscription card from JBHIFI a d send me the code. But when i plugged that in, it wouldnt accept it because I WAS ENTERING IT INTO MY ACCOUNT FROM THE WRONG COUNTRY. So i had to get mum to plug it in for me.

    Absolute shit show of shenanigans.

  • my psn handle is alright. But just alright and cause of that I now hate it. I remember unboxing my playstation and booting up the system super keen to just start playing shit, but having to pick a new handle before getting to the game. Feel like committing to something then was a rushed and poor decision and would love to be able to change my handle

  • I have to laugh, but I feel your pain. 18 months ago I started using my current handle (Oodlemeister) across the internet and PSN was an issue. I used to go by Illeagle34, but my nickname to many of friends is Oods (long story). So I found Oodlemeister and was stoked to find out that I didn’t have to put numbers after the name! Oh my god. A true unique name!

    But PSN was an issue. So I did the unthinkable. I made a new account. It stings a bit when I think about all the progress I haven’t carried over, but I’m glad I now have a handle I like much better.

    On a related note, my friend has a PSN/Steam name of “Ahurr”. It was a random bunch of letters he punched in one day and has been cursed with it ever since.

  • I know the pain of a bad psn login, i don’t even know mine because it is that bad. from memory i created it because all the ones i used back then were already taken. I added in a mixture of a nickname i had (only 1 person called me that) my sons name and a few numbers. It is a long ass massive name and it sucks balls.

  • Also, don’t use a fake date of birth when you create your account. I figured it was just to prove I was over 18 and just put in a date from over 20 years ago.
    Then I forgot my password and couldn’t reset it without knowing the date of birth. Had to make about 1,000 guesses before I got back in. Then the fun with email addresses started. 🙁

    PSN is without a doubt one of the most frustrating online accounts I’ve ever had to work with on any platform this century.

  • My PSN handle isn’t bad as such, but it’s too similar to someone else’s. I do have a second account linked to an email address I barely use, but I’m not sure I want to start using it and lose all the stuff on my current account. 🙁

  • Why not implement a number id system where they attach a number id to every user. It can be as simple as computers quickly counting the users in existence on psn and attaching the number to their psn so that when someone does something bad they can quickly identify the person because the number is linked to the incident as their id would be. There can also be logs for each name that is used and changed, there can be a system like Kik where you have the starting name as an underlying identification but then can change the name that everyone sees on your profile. there are plenty of solutions for this but sony cant come up with any? Really?

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