Following on from the strong rumours last week, PlayStation Blog have confirmed that PSN Name changes are finally headed to the network with the functionality being tested in the Preview program.
Users that have already pre-registered as testers in previous PS4 software betas will have access to this new feature "soon". You can change your Online ID as many times as you want, but much as with Xbox only the first change is free — it'll cost you $9.99 USD/CAD or your local equivalent after that. The changes will be available in the Settings menu and Profile page on PS4.
You will have the option to display your old ID alongside your new ID, which is interesting as it suggests that PlayStation really are putting some kind of universal identifier behind the scenes to keep your various names linked. On the other hand, you can only choose to display your old ID or not at the time of the name change — the option won't be available later, suggesting that the old record is somewhat scrubbed after the change.
Here's another kicker and the key to why PSN ID changes have been such a struggle for PlayStation to implement. It's worth quoting the caveats in full as there are a lot of worrying implications:
This feature is compatible with PS4 games originally published after April 1, 2018, and a large majority of the most-played PS4 games that were released before this date. However, please note not all games and applications for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita systems are guaranteed to support the online ID change, and users may occasionally encounter issues or errors in certain games. If for any reason you experience issues after changing your ID, you can revert back to your original ID for free at any time (you will only be able to revert once during the preview program). Reverting back to an old ID will resolve most issues caused by the ID change. In addition, when this feature officially launches, a list of compatible games published before April 1, 2018, will be provided on PlayStation.com for reference before you make a change.So there is no guarantee that your Online ID will reflect in any games prior to April 1 2018 — worse, PlayStation can't guarantee that there won't be "issues or errors" with older games. They'll give you the option to revert back to your old ID (once), but even then PlayStation can only commit to "most" issues caused by the ID change being resolved. We'll get a list of officially compatible games at some point in the future.
The preview of this feature is scheduled to end at the end of November, with a full roll-out planned for early 2019.
So, what do we think? It's priced on par with Xbox, but there are a lot of potential risks to consider. Let us know in the comments below!