PlayStation Stars, a rewards program Sony tragically failed to market by licensing the theme song of a certain animated film about an ogre’s swamp, rolls out today in the United States.
First announced in July, PlayStation Stars primarily grants players “digital collectibles,” which caused some observers to raise eyebrows at a slew of prizes that sure sounded a whole lot like NFTs. (Sony swears they’re “not NFTs.”) But long-tail participation in the program can also grant you points for redemption in the PlayStation Store. Here’s everything you need to know.
“PlayStation Stars”? Like, the fighting game?
No, you’re thinking of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a 2012 platform fighter that attempted to fold in Sony’s roster of first-party heroes for a PlayStation-exclusive Smash Bros. clone. By most accounts, the game failed. Terribly.
Despite centering around a dopamine-fueled progression system, PlayStation Stars isn’t a game at all. It’s a free addition to an existing PlayStation account. You’re allotted a set number of tasks, formally called campaigns, which cycle on a rotational basis. Completing campaigns gives you free stuff — like, yes, “digital collectibles” (to reiterate, “not NFTs”). The more campaigns you complete, the more campaigns you can unlock, increasing your overall PlayStation Stars status level.
The program first rolled out across Asia on Sept. 28, hit North and South America on Oct 5., and will expand to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand on Oct. 13.
How do you sign up for PlayStation Stars?
First, you need to have an account with PlayStation Network, Sony’s online service. (A free account is fine, though members of Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription will get added benefits.) In the PlayStation App, you’ll see a blue button with a star on it in the top navigation bar. Click on that, then follow the steps.
A console-based version of the program is not currently available.
What are the rewards?
PlayStation Stars rewards primarily fall into one of two categories: digital collectibles — trophies you can store in a digital trophy case on the PlayStation App — or points, which can be used on more collectibles or on games from the PlayStation Store.
At level two (buy a game from the PlayStation Store to unlock it), you get a bonus collectible. Once you hit level three (buy two games), you get a birthday collectible. At level four (buy four games), you unlock “chat priority routing — basically early access to customer support queries, though in a FAQ, Sony said wait times are “subject to availability.”
So the rewards, for the most part, are digitized statues that you can only see inside a mobile app, for the time being. You can view any you’ve unlocked in the display case, featured on the PlayStation App’s front page (it’s the blue bar mocked up with God of War text).
“It’s definitely not NFTs. Definitely not,” Sony vice president of network advertising, loyalty and licensed merchandise Grace Chen told The Washington Post. “You can’t trade them or sell them. It is not leveraging any blockchain technologies and definitely not NFTs.”
What are the challenges?
Campaigns are pretty rudimentary. For instance, for the October Check-in campaign that’s currently active on my account, I have to complete a rudimentary objective: “play any game (PS4/PS5).” Once I finish it, I’ll unlock the PlayStation Tech Demo Tyrannosaurs Rex — a dinosaur standing in front of a tree, a reference to a tech demo for the original PlayStation.
Some campaigns fall into the category of “spend money to make (a tiny pittance) of money.” For the PlayStation Store Picks campaign, I need to buy one of six specific games — NBA 2K23, Saints Row, TMNT Collection, The Last of Us Part I, Madden NFL 23, or Inscryption, Polygon’s 2021 GOTY — at full price from the PlayStation Store. In return, I’ll earn 50 points.
Sony said it won’t require you play any streamed PS3 games — a perk that’s only available to people who sign up for the priciest tier of PlayStation Plus — for any campaigns.
How much are PlayStation Points worth?
Forking over 200 points gets you a collectible from a rotational slate. You can also spend points on games, though the exchange rate isn’t an exact science. Right now, you can exchange points for a handful of games via the PlayStation App:
- Cult of the Lamb (6,250 points)
- It Takes Two (10,000 points)
- Hades (6,250 points)
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (15,000 points)
- The Quarry (17,500 points)
You can also redeem points for PlayStation Store funds: 1,250 points for $5 or 5,000 for $20. You cannot trade or transfer points to another account.
Is it worth it?
If it cost any money at all, no way. Ponying up for a full-priced game in exchange for less than $1 of PlayStation Store funds isn’t exactly enticing, no matter how you do the math. And whatever your thoughts on “not NFTs,” keeping them locked in a mobile app, where they can’t be viewed or traded, seems silly. But hey, PlayStation Stars is free.