When Sony had their PlayStation 5 showcase last week, I honestly didn’t expect them to reveal the design at the very end. I didn’t expect them to just tag on what the actual console would look like at the very end. So I was indeed very surprised with, not only how the PlayStation 5 looked, but at how “futuristic” Sony designed the system. I looked at some of the YouTube comments of the video and I totally agree with that one guy who said it looks like a WiFi router with its fins and all.
But the thing that truly caught me off guard was Sony slyly just quickly announcing they were coming out with two models of the PlayStation 5. One with the Blu-Ray drive and one without. The “Digital Edition” will remove the drive and gamers will have to purchase games online from the PlayStation Store.
A console generation ago, planning to put out a “Digital Edition” might seem like a bonkers idea but times have changed. With Internet speeds getting faster and faster as well as the idea of streaming stuff, even games, have started to bounce around, the need for physical media and actual discs is going the way of the dodo. The next generation of console gaming may be the tipping point for this and, maybe during the next cycle, the future may call for disc drives, even ones that can store massive amounts of data like a Blu-Ray, will become extinct.
However, I will still be getting a PlayStation 5 with a drive when I do get the chance. I might be old fashioned but the idea of a “digital only” console just feels kind of empty.
Now, I’m guessing Sony opted to put two versions of the PlayStation 5 because of the times, like I mentioned before. More and more gamers are simply buying their games through online stores and downloading them to their systems. It’s a quick, hassle-free way of getting the latest games without having to leave the comfort of your own home. Also, by removing the Blu-Ray drive, something that costs money to put into the system, I’m betting the “digital edition” will sold at a cheaper price point, making it a better choice for for the more budget conscious gamer. I don’t think it’ll be cheaper by a whole lot but I do think it’ll be somewhat significant.
Another reason why it would be a good reason to go all digital is, well, things can go wrong with the drives. Dust and gunk can get in them, leading to all sort of problems. Mechanisms like the rollers that take the discs in or the things that makes the discs spin can become loose. The laser that reads the discs will warp over time and even the tracks that the lasers are on will wear down. Heck, anyone who owned an old PlayStation and had to flip the entire system upside down will attest to how problematic drives can be!
Of course, the biggest reason to go get the “digital edition” if you’ve already made the transition and have gone all digital by now. I mean, I do believe most people have already because of how convenient it is and how less of a hassle it is to go to the store to get a game. Even I have gotten into the “digital only” somewhat as I can’t remember the last time I went to a store to buy a Blu-Ray copy of a movie. A good chunk of my gaming library, even the ones for my PlayStation 4, are stored on my hard drive.
Yet, even with its advantages, I’m still not going to get the PlayStation 5 “Digital Edition” if I can help it. I will still be trying my darndest to get one with a physical drive that accepts actual, good ol’ discs, even if it’ll probably cost more. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons for that.
Sony announced that the PlayStation 5 will generally be backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 games. Well, while I do have some downloaded games on my current PlayStation, a lot of them I still got on disc. In fact, a majority of them are still Blu-Ray discs! I know my PlayStation 4 will still be alive and kicking for some years to come (knock on wood), it’s nice to be prepared for the future and have a system that can still play my old discs.
But the biggest reason why I know I’ll be getting the PlayStation 5 with a drive is because, while I’m still a gamer at heart, I’m also a game collector. As in I collect them, store them and display them. And, unfortunately, I don’t think any game you download and store on your hard drive feels like collecting.
Yes, you can have an extensive library of games on your hard drive or the cloud or whatever you want to call it. But, unless I’m holding it in my hand, I can’t say I actually have “collected” it. For me, there’s still something special about going to the store, looking for the latest release you’ve been so desperately waiting for months, finding it, opening up the case and looking at the disc itself. The feeling of something tangible in your hands beats the feeling of instant gratification of just downloading it.
Sure, you can say that my room is cluttered with old discs from an old forgotten past. I still have my game discs for my PlayStation 2, original Xbox system and PlayStation 3 strewn all around my house. The display cases that hold the discs may be gathering dust on the top because I haven’t moved them for ages. But they’re there in places where I can see them. Once in a while, I will just be passing by and a title will catch my eye and I’m transported back to when I was playing that game and all the fun times, the frustrating moments, epic boss battles and the many sleepless nights I had with games like Grand Theft Auto III, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and many more.
I’m not saying the gamers who have adapted to the new digital experience are missing out. They still get to play the same games but I’m also in for keeping things for posterity. There may be a time when something that was on the digital store was taken out and, even if you have purchased it before, might not make it available for download anymore. I’m not saying any company will do that because that’s pretty much PR suicide. But I’m just not willing to take the chance that I might not be able to play a game because I can’t download it anymore from anywhere in the future.
I do hope that Sony does find an audience for both versions of their upcoming PlayStation 5. Both camps, the physical media and the purely digital groups, will get a PlayStation 5 that will suit their individual needs. However, include me in the former side.
Which version of the PlayStation 5 will you get? Or do you prefer the Xbox One Series X? Let me know in the comments section below!