Every time Sony provides an update to the PS4 operating system gamers want more than an increase in its stability, they want new features and tools to play around with. One request I hear a lot is the ability to track the amount of time you’ve played specific games – Steam monitors it, the 3DS and Wii U gave a comprehensive overview, and even the Switch kinda does the job (until it can’t be bothered quoting the exact time anymore). However, as Sony has had a small thing to work on over the last few years, the PS5, they’ve ignored this request and people have continued to ask for the feature.
Today is the 14th October, we’re less than a month away from the official launch of the PS5 in certain regions, yet we still don’t know anything about the UI – although there are rumours that it’s going to be shown tomorrow. As such, they could have actually built a record of what you’ve been playing and for how long into the new operating system – for the purpose of this article, I’m going to presume they haven’t and/or you’re simply looking for this tool to run on your PS4 and not the new console (although it’ll work on both if they’ve not included it).
First things first – this isn’t sponsored and I wasn’t asked to write this, it’s just something I spotted a few weeks back and have been using since, so I thought I’d share it with all of you as I know some of you will love this new feature.
So, what does the process actually do? I’ll put the ‘installation’ instructions below but its quite an ingenious solution which works really well. You simply add a certain PSN account as a friend on your PS4, play your games, then receive a message automatically at the end of each gaming session. It’s that simple. The ‘friend’ you add is basically a bot that can see what games you’re playing and how long you’re playing them for – it then cumulatively adds up your individual gaming sessions per-game and creates an accurate total time played for each game.
As expected, there are a few limitations you need to be aware of. The website states:
• You have to be online. Time cannot be tracked while you’re playing offline or appearing as offline.
• It also obviously doesn’t know how long you’ve played before tracking started.
• Unfortunately it also tracks suspended games, for example while you’re watching Netflix/Prime and a game runs in the background. Putting your PS in Rest Mode will stop tracking.
• You will only get a message once a day and if you’ve played more than 30 minutes. Don’t worry, your stats are still saved and tracked, you will just receive them later.
• Check if you’re able to receive messages via PSN! You can add the bot as a close friend if you need to. You will still be tracked regardless and you could check your stats on this website, but you will not get daily updates or the access code. You will have to allow messages and/or contact us by mail to get it working again if you’ve already added it in the past.
So, it’ll only start to monitor your games from the moment you add the bot as a friend and start playing, and you need to ensure you don’t hide the games you’re playing within the privacy options, as that’s how it knows what you’re doing. However, if you’re wanting a feature like this, you’ve probably got everything visible anyway as that’s also how PSN track your usage in order to deliver their year-end progress reports on what trophies you’ve earnt.
How to ‘install’
The first thing you need to do is go to this website: https://ps-timetracker.com/signup, as you can only have 2,000 friends at a time, the available accounts will be shown on there (it’s currently up to ps-timetracker7, 9 and 10)
Once you’ve done that, sit back and play your games, you should get a message off the bot within a few hours letting you know what your registration code is for the website as well as a general greeting to the service. The website says that if you’ve played more than 30 minutes then you’ll get one recap per day which tells you what you’ve played, how long for, and the total playtime for each of those titles. However, I’ve found that it sends me a message via PSN every time I put my PS4 into rest mode – so I get about 2 or 3 messages a day.
That’s not all though, once the bot has confirmed it’s tracking your times, you can ‘register’ on the website for more information. This is done here: https://ps-timetracker.com/profile. To register, you simply input your PSN account name and the registration code that was sent within the first PSN message you received.
The site provides you with some interesting statistics such as a break down of all your gaming sessions, how long you spent on each day in certain titles, how long you play on each day of the week, etc… It even lets you see the overall playtime of each game but based on every registered user – for example, Crash Bandicoot has been played for almost 6,000 hours by 399 people since launch (of those who are registered to this service): https://ps-timetracker.com/game/CUSA23470_00
This may not be the solution everyone wanted, as we wanted Sony to listen and build it into the operating system and provide a tool like Nintendo did with the 3DS and Wii U. However, it’s a free service which takes a few minutes to ‘set up’ that will monitor and record your times as well as give you access to a robust website of tracked data to look at – if that’s something which interests you.
Using this service I’ve seen that I’ve recently spent 133 hours on a JRPG, 50 hours in Port Royale, 47 managing my Little Big Workshop, and 33 frustrating hours trying to beat Crash Bandicoot 4 (which I eventually did).