Overnight PlayStation held their big unveiling event, finally showing off their next-gen console, the PS5. While the event (rewatch here) featured an onslaught of upcoming games, showing off the new hardware, it’s perhaps the final reveal of the hardware that leaves you with the biggest decision yet.
The PS5 will come in 2 versions. One with a Blu-ray drive and one without, known as the Digital Edition. At this point, it’s important to remember a few things.
Firstly, Sony also owns the massive movie entertainment business Sony Entertainment who each year produces lots of movies on, you guessed it, Blu-ray. This is clearly a motivator to offer the optical drive, at least one more time.
Secondly, choosing the version with the drive, allows those who have PS4s to play their games. While we’re yet to see the final list of titles that support backwards compatibility, it is expected that almost all the top 100 most-played PS4 games will work.
Thirdly, there’s the people in locations around the world that still don’t have great internet connections and have no capacity to download 100GB games over the net. While these locations are decreasing, especially with countries like Australia having nation-wide broadband rollouts, but as we know, even with the NBN, many customers are still let with less than gaming-level connections.
It is worth noting that Microsoft also got stuck in this debate about the need for an optical drive in today’s connected society, with a version of the Xbox One S offered without the Blu-ray drive, back in 2019.
Personally I think the resulting 2 editions of the PS5 is the result of internal struggles, fuelled by competing interests. By removing a component like the Blu-ray drive, the cost of the PS5 could have been cheaper, providing a big advantage over the competition. The flip side is that you risk pissing off your hardcore fans, left with a collection of games (and maybe a few movies) they can’t play on the latest console.
Understanding the bandwidth of a majority of gamers is sorted, I would have liked Sony commit to the all-digital strategy and offered an upgrade scheme to turn do a one-time transfer of a physical disc to digital ownership for 1 account. Yes, that would obviously kill the ability to resell games, but you likely understand we’re well on that path anyway, it is happening, time to deal with it.
In terms of design, it’s new, it’s different and very different in the white external and black middle stripe, but I don’t think it looks bad. That black stripe houses the exhaust vents to keep the PS5, as well as the ports required for peripherals.
It’s clean, modern and should complement most living room setups. I expect most people to lay it horizontally to fit in low-line units, rather than the vertical orientation displayed in the launch video.
Finally, there’s a series of peripherals to match the PS5 design. The last frame of the hardware unveil video, shows a gaming headset, media remote, controllers and camera.