New Zealand Time Zone Trick Explained: How to Play New Games Early

It turns out that New Zealand Time Zone Trick that lets you play games early isn't just an internet rumor. Here's how you do it.

Usually, when a new game releases, you might hear about something called the “New Zealand Time Zone Trick” that lets you play the game early. In fact, some Den of Geek articles mention using that little hack as a way to get a head start on the latest AAA titles. Since more and more games allow for a version of that trick, now seems like a pretty good time to explain just how the whole thing works.

At its core, the New Zealand Time Zone Trick works by tricking a console’s online server into thinking you live in New Zealand. Since that country technically reaches midnight before every other region (relative to how time zones work), games tend to release several hours earlier in New Zealand. However, this trick only works for titles that launch at midnight, one time zone at a time. So, if a game launches at midnight in New Zealand before it will launch in your time zone, this trick should work just fine.

If you’re playing on a Nintendo Switch or Xbox console, you can pull off the New Zealand Trick by visiting the Settings menu of your console and resetting your region to New Zealand. For the Nintendo Switch, open the console’s System Settings menu, scroll down to “System,” select “Region,” and set it to Australia/New Zealand.

To use the New Zealand Time Zone Trick on the Xbox Series X/S, open the Settings menu, select “System,” then “Language & Location.” Finally, set your location to New Zealand. Regardless of your console, once finished, restart the system to let the changes take effect.

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While tricking Switch and Xbox servers into thinking you live in New Zealand is child’s play, Sony set up some defenses to prevent PlayStation gamers from taking advantage of the New Zealand Time Zone Trick. However, those barriers aren’t insurmountable.

While you can manually change the time zone on your PlayStation console, altering its internal clock won’t fool the servers. Once you have created a profile, its location is locked. The only way around this draconian system is to create a new account. Just go through all the motions you used to create your first account (use a different email this time, though), and when you get to the page to select your country and region, pick New Zealand.

Also make sure to pick a city, province, and zip code in that country. It’s going to look awfully suspicious if you say you live in New York City, New Zealand. Once you have the New Zealand account, to take advantage of the New Zealand Time Zone Trick, you need to buy the game and play it on that account (at least until after it releases in your actual time zone). You can use Console Sharing and Offline Play functionality to then play it on your main account, but all progress will be wiped. That’s why PlayStation gamers often feel left out of the fun when it comes to this trick.

As for PC…well, you’re pretty much out of luck there. Some VPNs used allow you to pull off a version of this trick, but changes to certain VPNs and digital distribution platforms make those methods unreliable at best and risky at worst. At the moment, it’s generally advised that PC players wait their turn.

Best of luck to all the brave soles willing to jump through hoops to play a new game several hours earlier.