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How to buy a digital copy of a PS4 or PS5 game for your friend

ps4 as ATM
ps4 as ATM (Image credit: Android Central)

How to buy a digital copy of a PS4 or PS5 game for your friend

Best answer: Sony's purchase policies don't allow retailers other than the PlayStation Store to sell digital game downloads. Because of this, you'll need to buy a gift card if you want to give your friend a digital game.

What are my options? 

Unfortunately, you technically can't gift a digital copy of a game anymore, on PS4 or PS5. While this used to be an option, it's no longer possible. Now, if you want to give a digital game to a friend, you'll want to send them a PlayStation Store gift card so they can buy the game themselves. It's far from ideal, but it's the only real option. You can buy someone a physical game, but then you'll have to ship it to them, and they can't play it if they are using a PS5 Digital Edition. While inconvenient, if you truly want to buy a game for someone without them technically purchasing on the PlayStation Store, a physical copy will be your only option.

Fortunately, if this is truly the way you want to do it, Sony continues to produce physical copies of all its first-party games from Sony Worldwide Studios and major third-party titles from other companies. All of the best PS5 games will be available physically and digitally for the foreseeable future. You don't need to worry about this changing anytime soon. So if you insist on buying a game for your friend, make sure you have their address (or will see them in person to just give it to them), and as long as they're okay with disc drives, you can give them a physical copy of the game.

Why can't we gift digital games anymore?

Sony used to allow digital game gifting through digital codes at retailers, but not anymore. Effective April 1, 2019, Sony disallowed retailers from selling full digital game download codes.

"We can confirm that as of April 1, 2019, Sony Interactive Entertainment will no longer offer full games through SIE's Global Digital at Retail program," a PlayStation spokesperson told The Verge. "This decision was made to continue to align key businesses globally. To support full games and premium editions, SIE will introduce increased denominations at select retailers. DLC, add-ons, virtual currency, and season passes will still be available."

Previously, people could buy digital game codes through Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop stores. Now, however, that's no longer an option. Unfortunately, there aren't many other options for those looking for different paths to gifting games to their friends, especially if you're strictly looking to pick up a digital copy.

What about game subscriptions?

PS Plus Premium classics page

(Image credit: Android Central)

While you can't directly gift a digital game, you do also have the option of buying your friend a subscription service like PlayStation Plus. Anyone subscribed to PlayStation Plus gets free monthly games that they can keep forever, with higher tiers offering an additional library of frequently updated games. The premium tier also offers a selection of classic games from previous eras of PlayStation and game trials for selected titles so that your friend can try a game before you buy. They'll also get instant access to the PlayStation Plus Collection, a selection of PS4 games accessible for PS5 users subscribed to PlayStation Plus.

Not an ideal solution

It is a shame that you can't shower friends with game-related gifts, but luckily there are some solutions. Gift cards may be inferior to buying a game directly, but they are the closest you can currently get. Your friend will get a choice when making a purchase, and there are multiple options when looking at how much to spend on your gift card. 

A subscription to the recently-overhauled PS Plus is another decent option if you want to spend a little more money, with different tiers giving you a choice over which version of the service to subscribe to. With the service containing a large library of updating titles at higher tiers and likely to increase in value for money, a PS Plus subscription could be a great present idea for a friend. Sony could once again allow players to gift games to friends, but in the meantime, these solid options will have to suffice. 

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It's not ideal, but if you're wondering how to gift PS4 or PS5 digital games to your friends, you'll need to buy them a gift card. Luckily, you have several denominations to choose from, and it does give your friend a choice in what they pick out.

Buy From: Amazon (opens in new tab)

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While you won't be directly buying your friend a game, they're still sure to appreciate a PlayStation Plus membership, which is now split up into three tiers.

Buy From: Amazon (opens in new tab)

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.

With contributions from