Rumors have begun to circulate that users on PlayStation 4 and other PlayStation consoles are losing their digital games and DLC, with purchased licences seemingly vanishing from Sony’s servers.
The source (referred to as “Nod Head”) contacted us regarding their own experiences with the alleged issue via email. The contents of this email had also been sent to YouTubers specializing in video game industry news, and exposing anti-consumer practices in the video games industry.
We followed up on several points, wherein Nod Head claimed they “worked on Servers for numerous companies,” granting them insight into the issue. Their information also included coverage by outlets who had run the story [1, 2], and other claims from users on Reddit.
Nod Head claims that “it’s only a matter of time before [the issue] impacts Hundreds of Thousands of people,” even affecting more modern games and DLC.
Nod Head claims that they had spent two to three months investigating PlayStation Network, after the transaction for purchasing a game had been seemingly deleted from their servers. Among the information sent, an Imgur gallery was also sent, showing the technical issues in action.
Several months prior, Nod Head claims the game Dezaemon Plus! would not download; producing “a strange HTTP 404 Not Found Error on my PS3 and a ‘C2-13242-2’ on my PS Vita.” They also claimed they could not download the game onto their PlayStation Portable, and that using their neighbor’s internet connection did not change the outcome.
When Nod Head contacted Sony Support (via their Chat Support) they initially claimed the issue was fixed; it was not. Some time after contacting them again, Sony sent an Account Specialist to Nod Head. After “rigorous trial by error,” the Specialist allegedly claimed that the issue was not due to Nod Head’s account or network.
The Specialist then gave Nod Head a reference number, and asked them to specifically mention to Sony support that “This is not an account related issue. After several tests, all signs point to server-side problems.”
Nod Head then claims “for a [sic] straight 8 hours,” Sony’s Customer Support “refused” to help. Several employees allegedly refused to pursue the matter further, claiming that Nod Head did not own Dezaemon Plus!. Nod Head claims they had to “practically beg” for an employee Supervisor to not end the chat session, but they still did.
The alleged excuses from the customer support were that there were no issues with the servers, that Nod Head only owned their account since 2014 (when they had owned it since 2009), and that it was not their department and to use the FAQ to fix the (non-existent) networking issue.
At one point a customer service representative allegedly stated to Nod Head that “there is clear evidence that you don’t” own the game; despite the reference number from the Specialist and Nod Head offering to show their transactions. Nod Head later states their interactions with customer service “bordered on genuine hostility (poor customer-service aside).”
One customer service representative (Dana) towards the end of the eight hours took the issue more seriously. Nod Head’s account was allegedly not only missing “a few” games, but several years of account information was missing or “patch-worked.”
Dana requested that Nod Head send their Transaction IDs to them from 2010 and onwards. After this, Dana confirmed there was an issue on the sever side. Dana stated she informed her Supervisor, and a Network Specialist was requested to contact Nod Head.
The next day, the Network Specialist had further determined the issue was with the server. Nod Head’s PlayStation 3 also allegedly gave the error “Content has been deleted from the Server.” While the servers appeared “Green” on their end, the Network Specialist stated would inform the server-side team.
While Sony’s initial solution was to allegedly to re-certify the game licences, Nod Head’s PlayStation 4 would “shut down [the process] towards the end and the PS4 would spit out a ‘CE-33946-5’ error code.”
Nod Head also found others online (via r/PS4 and r/PS4SupportPage) who had reported similar issues. These came with more modern games and DLC, such as The Last of Us Part II, God of War (2019), and Dead by Daylight.
Those users also reported claims of Sony’s customer support being poor; the majority being told to (in Nod Head’s words) “either 1) Go away, as this is not our problem and 2 This does not pertain to our department, Please go through our FAQ as we cannot help you.”
Nod Head expressed their concern that more servers could continue to “Fragment” despite showing as “green,” causing gamers to lose any proof of rightfully purchasing a game (bank statements aside). This is exacerbated by Sony’s customer service denying their being any issue, and those working on the servers thinking everything is OK.
In addition, Nod Head had contacted MonkeyPaw Games (the publishers of Dezaemon Plus!). They replied that it was likely an issue with Sony’s internal files.
“That sounds like a Sony file format problem. This is the first time we have encountered this so it might be a problem with your PS unit but more probably its [sic] a Sony Internal file problem. If so, Sony would need to reformat the source code. We will contact Sony about the issue and see if we can help them resolve it.”
Is it True?
Venture Beat’s link to those complaining about the issue on Twitter was not archived, showing the latest results for “psn down,” rather than those at that time of writing. Likewise r/PS4’s and r/PS4Support’s front pages show multiple topics- not just the issue in question.
When searching for the CE-33946-5 error code on r/PS4, r/PS4Support, and Twitter, there are few results. More general terms such as “transaction,” “download,” “certify,” and “certification” are also too open ended.
Nonetheless, the on r/PS4 that Nod Head shared with us showed at least seven users suffering the same issue, and a further ten in another r/PS4SupportPage thread.
PlayStation Lifestyle cited a Reddit thread on r/PS4 about the issue, in their article from May of this year. The Reddit thread was started by the board’s moderator, and shows an additional 23 users stated they were having issues (for a total of 40 users).
Five members claimed their entire library of games was gone, while another lost half their library. The posts make no distinction if the users were trying to download the games, or if they had vanished from their system. However, the way they were written would seem to suggest the latter.
It could be fair to say the issue is certainly there, though the question now arises with how wide-spread could it be? Nonetheless, if the issue only affects a small percentage of PlayStation users (or even a fraction of a percentage), is that a risk digital players are willing to take?
Why was their customer support so reluctant, even with advice from their own experts? Why would customer service deny even looking at proof of transactions? If the Network Specialist has passed word to the server team, why have Sony not issued a warning or statement?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!
Image: PlayStation official website