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Why are my free PS Plus games locked?

Free PlayStation Plus games can become locked and inaccessible due to an expired subscription, console not set as primary, corrupted licenses, or other technical issues. By renewing your membership, restoring licenses, power cycling your console, and contacting PlayStation support, you can unlock games and regain access.

Causes of Free PS Plus Games Becoming Locked

There are a few common reasons your free PS Plus games may have the locked symbol and won‘t launch:

Expired PlayStation Plus Membership

The most likely culprit is an expired PS Plus subscription. These free games require an active membership to play. According to Sony, if your membership ends, "access to most benefits, including online multiplayer, free monthly games, and exclusive discounts, will be suspended until you renew." So an expired subscription removes the licenses for free games.

Console Not Set as Primary

Your PS4 or PS5 must be set as the primary console for the account with an active PS Plus membership. This allows all users on that device to access multiplayer and free games. If not set as primary, only the account holder can play them.

Corrupted Licenses or Conflicts

Occasionally system errors, game conflicts, power outages or network issues can cause license corruption. This can mistakenly flag legally obtained games as locked even with an active subscription.

System Software Bugs

Though rare, bugs in a system software update could also be the culprit. Sony issues patches to fix these, but sometimes bugs slip through that affect game licenses and access.

So in summary – an expired subscription, console not primary, corrupted licenses, or software bugs are the most common reasons for becoming locked out of your PS Plus free games.

PlayStation Plus Membership Status

First, you‘ll want to check on the status of your PlayStation Plus membership. From the PS4 or PS5 home screen:

  1. Go to Settings > Users and Accounts > Subscriptions
  2. View status of PlayStation Plus membership
  3. If expired, renew subscription
  4. Monthly and annual options are available

According to a 2021 report, PlayStation Plus has 47.4 million subscribers globally. So you are definitely not alone if your membership lapsed!

PlayStation Plus costs:

  • 1 Month – $9.99
  • 3 Months – $24.99
  • 12 Months – $59.99

Sony offers promotions around the holidays and events like E3 where PS Plus is discounted by 25-30% off. So look for deals to save money when renewing.

Set Your Primary PS4 or PS5

If your membership is active but games still won‘t launch, make sure your console is set as primary. Here‘s how:

  1. Go to Settings > Users and Accounts > Other
  2. Select Console Sharing and Offline Play
  3. Choose "Set This PS4/PS5 as Your Primary Console"

This allows any user profiles on your primary PS4 or PS5 to access your PlayStation Plus benefits like online multiplayer, free monthly games, and more.

According to PlayStation, "you can only have one PS4/PS5 console registered as your primary system at any given time. However, you can reassign it to another console whenever you like."

So if recently logging in on a friend‘s console for example, you may have accidentally set their‘s as primary. Flip it back and your free games should unlock!

Restore Licenses to Fix Conflicts

If your membership and primary console are all good, try restoring licenses. From your PS4 or PS5:

  1. Go to Settings > Users and Accounts > Other
  2. Select Restore Licenses
  3. Click Restore – this checks for and renews any missing licenses

This can clear up license conflicts, corrupted data, or confusion from game sharing that mistakenly flags your free games as locked.

According to PlayStation, "this feature will scan the game library and restore any licenses that may be corrupt or missing." So it‘s a handy trick to get everything synced up properly.

Power Cycling the Console

As a last resort, try restarting the console and unplugging it for several minutes. Here are the steps:

  1. Fully power down PS4/PS5, don‘t just put into rest mode
  2. Unplug the power cable from back of console
  3. Wait 5-10 minutes before reconnecting
  4. Turn console back on and check game licenses

This gives time for the system cache to clear. According to TechRadar, this fix works because "power cycling the console will flush the cache and might reset any licenses or permissions that have stopped working."

So after restarting, your free games should be unlocked and restored. This is an easy no-hassle fix to try if licenses are still showing locked.

Contact PlayStation Support

For any persisting problems with locked PS Plus games, reach out directly to PlayStation Support. There are a few ways to get assistance:

  • Live chat via PlayStation.com
  • Request a call back
  • Call 1-800-345-SONY
  • Twitter @AskPlaystation

The support team can look at your account details and system data to troubleshoot further. They may spot issues you missed or have specialized tools to reset licenses.

According to reviews, PlayStation customer service averages around 8/10. So they can hopefully provide a simple solution if you‘re still stuck.

The PlayStation Plus Collection is Ending

One important update for PS5 owners – the PlayStation Plus Collection will be discontinued in May 2022. This was a bonus library of 20 popular PS4 titles available to PS5 PS Plus subscribers at no added cost.

However, Sony has decided to sunset this program and remove the collection. So new PS5 owners after May will no longer have access to these games like God of War (2018), Persona 5, and more.

But existing subscribers can still claim and play these games until the collection fully closes. So if you haven‘t already, be sure to add them to your library before May!

PS Plus Monthly Games Require a Subscription

A common misconception is that monthly free PlayStation Plus games are yours to keep permanently, like Xbox Games With Gold.

But this is NOT the case – PS Plus monthly games require an active subscription to maintain access. If you cancel PS Plus, the licenses expire and games will be locked until you renew membership.

So don‘t make the mistake of thinking you own these titles indefinitely. Remember to grab each month’s free games to build your collection. Popular past titles have included Bioshock: The Collection, Uncharted 4, and Call of Duty: WWII.

PlayStation Plus Will Continue on PS5

Importantly, while the PS Plus Collection is ending, PlayStation Plus itself is here to stay. The service and monthly free games will continue to be offered on PlayStation 5.

In fact, Sony promises PS Plus will be "bigger and better" on PS5. This likely means higher quality monthly games and more valuable promotions and discounts for subscribers.

Any existing PS Plus membership you have will carry over to PS5. So you can still enjoy the benefits on the new console.

In Summary

To recap, if your free PlayStation Plus games become locked, try:

  • Renewing PS Plus if expired
  • Setting your console as primary
  • Restoring licenses
  • Power cycling the system
  • Contacting PlayStation support

This comprehensive guide covers the likely issues and solutions to regain access to your games. Let me know if you have any other questions!