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How to prepare a PlayStation 4 for gifting

Gifting a PS4? Avoid long updates and start gaming right away with our guide

Video game consoles make great presents, but long gone are the days when you could just unbox your new console, pop in a game, and begin playing right after receiving it. On PlayStation 4, the system software updates, game installation, and patches can mean it will be hours before you’re actually able to play your new system.


To make the process easier for your loved ones, however, you can prepare a PlayStation 4 for gifting in advance. Here’s what you need to do so the recipient can start gaming right away.

Update the system software

Unless you received a used system that’s been updated to the latest system software, you’re going to need to install it before the PlayStation 4 can access online features. The process is relatively painless, but the download can take a fairly long time in areas with slower internet download speeds.

Connect the PlayStation 4’s power and HDMI cables and turn the system on, at which point you’ll be instructed on how to connect the controller, pick your language, and set up your Wi-Fi connection. Once you’ve done this preliminary work, you’ll be taken to the PlayStation 4’s home screen.

Go to the notifications bubble in the top-left of the screen, select the “downloads” option, and then choose to install the latest system software. The system will automatically restart and install the latest software, and it will then be eligible for online connectivity.

If the person receiving the PlayStation 4 doesn’t like opening something that has already been opened before, you can also load the update onto a USB drive, which can then be installed after the console is plugged in. To do this, create a folder on the drive named “PS4,” and create another named “UPDATE” inside. Put this file inside the latter folder and call it “PS4UPDATE.PUP.” Insert it into the system and follow the instructions to install it.

Log into the PlayStation Network

The process of getting started with PlayStation 4 games can be much quicker if the console is already associated with the user’s PlayStation Network account. Assuming the person receiving the console doesn’t have one yet, you can create one using the PlayStation 4 itself. We suggest asking the person receiving the console what their preferred username would be, as changing it is a bit of a hassle.

Turn on the PlayStation 4, and at the login screen, select the “create a user” option, and then choose to sign up for PlayStation Network. From here, enter the player’s email, username, and a temporary password (they can change it later) and accept the terms of service. You’ll need the person receiving the PlayStation 4 to accept the account verification email they receive, and then the account will be good to go.

If the person receiving the PlayStation 4 already has a PSN account, the process is simpler. You’ll still be prompted to sign into the PlayStation Network after performing the system software update, but you can simply enter their user information to log into their account. Make sure they don’t use that password for anything else and have them reset it on their console once they’ve been gifted it.

Set up PlayStation Plus

The PlayStation 4 requires users to have a PlayStation Plus subscription in order to play most online games, with the exception of some free-to-play titles like Fortnite.

You can purchase subscription codes for PlayStation Plus from most retailers, including Amazon, but you can also get a two-week free trial for new PlayStation Network accounts.

Head to the PlayStation Plus official website, sign into the same account that is on the console, and you have the option to subscribe for 14 days, after which the subscription will automatically renew. Make sure you let the gift receiver know that they should cancel the membership just beforehand if they plan on purchasing a full subscription, as they can do so for about half the cost of the $10 automatic renewal fee.

Download games

Once you have PlayStation Plus active, you can download the month’s free games. Head to the PlayStation Store icon, which is located on the left side of the console’s home screen, and then scroll down the menu until you spot PlayStation Plus. All free PlayStation 4 games should be available to automatically download from this screen, and they’ll be updated and ready to play without having to do anything else.

From the PlayStation Store application, you can also purchase and install additional digital games you want to get as gifts, and they can automatically begin downloading after purchase, as well.

If the person receiving the PlayStation 4 has received digital games in the past, you can also re-download these by heading to the console’s game library. Locate the “Library” icon, which should be at the far right of the scroll on the home screen, then locate “Purchased.” Choose any game you see with an arrow pointing down, and on the next screen just hit “download” to install it.

Install disc-based games

Installing games from Blu-ray discs is even simpler than downloading them, and it won’t take nearly as long to do. To start installing a disc-based game, just insert it into the Blu-ray drive on the front of the PlayStation 4 and wait until it begins spinning. You should see the game’s icon pop up on the home screen, and a progress bar at the bottom will show you exactly how long you have until the disc is installed enough to open.

Any software updates for these games should begin installing automatically, and for certain games, they can be massive. Set aside a few hours, particularly if you have more than one game to give them on Christmas. Depending on how long the game has been out, the update can even be larger than the game installation file itself.

Lastly, search for the game’s box for any slips of paper with redeemable codes on them, such as skins, bonus maps, or weapon packs. Head to the PlayStation Store again, and scroll down the menu until you see the “redeem codes” option. Enter all of the codes you have on the next screen, choose to continue, and they’ll be installed in seconds.

Charge controller

The DualShock 4 controller included with the PlayStation 4 is likely to have some charge left on it, but it’s also not exactly known for its battery life. To make sure it’s topped off before you give the console as a gift, you can set it to charge with the console in standby mode.

To do this, connect the controller to one of the console’s USB ports using the included cable, then navigate to the settings menu and go to “Power Saving Settings.” From here, select “Set Features Available in Rest Mode” and ensure that “Supply Power to USB Ports” is selected.

Next, hold down the PlayStation button in the center of the controller, scroll to “Power,” and choose to put it in rest mode instead of turning it off completely. If done correctly, the system light on the front will change from white to orange, and it will begin slowly blinking.

This isn’t the best option for charging the DualShock 4 controller, as keeping the console in standby mode uses more energy than turning it off, and it’s a hassle to keep pulling the USB cord back out. Provided that you’re willing to spend a little extra cash, getting a charging station for the controllers is a great alternative. The PowerA charging station, for instance, costs around $20 and allows you to charge two controllers using a standard power outlet. They’ll glow orange on top when charging, and the light will go out when they’re ready to use.

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