After recently moving from New Zealand back to Australia, I was surprised to discover that I was unable to change my contact details on both my PSN and Xbox Live accounts to reflect my change in country. After searching through forum posts and then calling Xbox Live customer service, it was clear that changing your country is IMPOSSIBLE on both services.
I was very surprised, and very disappointed that neither service had figured out a way to make this happen. I couldn’t help but wonder if the decision was based at all on some kind of misguided notion that people don’t change their country all that frequently, something I could easily imagine being an acceptable assumption in both Japan and the United States of America.
I understand, at least loosely the challenges when it comes to purchased content and the rights a user might have to that content that might for some reason be contravening the laws of a new country, however I find it very hard to believe that any of these issues are insurmountable. When you consider that I am able to retain both of my “foreign” accounts (and the purchased content) while I reside in Australia, I can’t help but wonder if any argument in that vain is moot.
What I find is the end result that I’m experiencing from all this is that I am not able to make simple purchases using my credit card from my account. The problem being that when I attempt to make a credit card purchase, the address submitted is of course not the same as the one for my credit card (because the country is incorrect). In other words, Sony and Microsoft lose an opportunity to make money from me!
Perhaps I misunderstand the complexity, perhaps it is not an issue of media rights. The customer service rep from Xbox Live told me, in a very unconvincing fashion that it was “to prevent hackers” – something I couldn’t help but think was some kind of catch-all stock answer they are told to use to justify anything that they can’t explain or properly understand.
Personally, I find it hard to see why it would be too much of a challenge to allow users to change their countries for their accounts. How would I feel if a game or a movie I had purchased in New Zealand, was for whatever reason blocked from me because I was now an Australian account? Not very good, but why would I have to be blocked? The only solution I have been given is that I need to create a new, Australian account; but like any enthusiastic gamer I have a gamerscore and a tally of trophies that I want to retain from my existing account.
When you consider, particularly in continents like Europe, that many people change the country they live in, it seems absurd that there is no solution to this. I know that we are not going to see any kind of resolution to this issue for this generation, I can only hold out hope that it will be resolved by the next.