A few days ago I grabbed the free PS Plus games on my PS5, like I usually do. And just like always, later that day I checked my phone and saw a series of emails from Sony confirming supposed purchases, which prompted a mild freakout before remembering they were just Sony confirming I “bought” games that were free. This cycle has gone on for a few years now. I feel that telltale chill every time.
On PS4 and PS5, you can find free-to-play games, free DLC, apps, and PS Plus games. None of this content will cost you a penny, but when you “buy it” or “add it to your library” Sony still considers this a transaction. As such the company sends you an email a few minutes after you grab Netflix or Warframe or some other free piece of content. And it does this every time. If this sounds annoying, it is! It’s also incredibly odd that this is the default behaviour for email notifications and receipts.
I’ve dug around the settings a bit before writing this and I couldn’t find any button or feature to disable or adjust these emails. I could change my email to an account I don’t use as often, but then I’d probably miss actual important PSN ID emails. I could create a separate Gmail folder to catch these notifications, but that doesn’t stop them from coming. It just moves the problem into a different area, which isn’t how you generally solve problems.
You would think by now I’d be accustomed to these emails. Nope!
I always feel a pang of fear when I see something in my email inbox about newly completed purchases. Did I buy something? Did someone hack me? I recently dealt with a debit card issue that has left me a bit nervous about random purchases, so these emails are, as the kids say, hitting differently these days. I also spent a large portion of my life with little to no money so I’m very, very careful about what I buy and when. These emails instantly throw my brain into panic mode. “Oh no! I’m going to lose all my money. I’m ruined! Oh, God!!”
When I mentioned these annoying and nerve-wracking emails in Kotaku Slack I got feedback almost immediately. One Mike Fahey mentioned an interesting wrinkle: He has kids. So whenever he gets this email he worries that one of his lovely children has purchased something, probably with his credit card. Looking around on Twitter and Reddit you can find a lot of other people complaining and joking about the superfluous PlayStation emails, too.
Sony isn’t alone in this. Epic gives away free games every month and whenever you grab one you can expect a worthless receipt too. For some reason, this doesn’t quite annoy me as much, probably because I’m at my computer when I grab the games and so my brain hasn’t had time to forget about what I did. Plus Epic’s store doesn’t have tons of free apps on it that also trigger emails. Still, Epic, you can stop emailing me about free things too.
It’s possible that a way to turn these off is buried somewhere, or a way to filter them out finely enough into some folder I can ignore — ideally the trash. But it feels like, in 2021, Sony should be able to distinguish between when I actually buy something and when I’m just clicking on a free download. It can’t be that hard! And if, moving forward, the company could just show a little restraint with the receipts it could save me, plus apparently a fair few others, a lot of mini panic attacks when we check our emails.