When Sony revealed the updated models for the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition, a specific accessory for the latter caught my attention. That will be an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive for the PS5, which players can purchase separately and then add to the digital edition console if they decide they want to own the physical media. Coming right in the middle of a console generation where multiple versions of each Sony and Microsoft console exist, this console is much closer to the future that the PC experience comes from.
By this I mean that game consoles are becoming more modular and customizable. Something like an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive points to a future where you can swap console parts in and out like a gaming PC. This not only gives companies a chance to be more digitally focused while still supporting physical media but also potentially makes it easier to expand a console’s memory or power without having to do a full-on mid-gen console refresh. It’s unknown whether this is the real future of console gaming, but the new PS5 models at least lay some groundwork.
A more modular future
While “slim” versions of consoles have been an industry trend for some time, mid-gen console refreshes have grown in importance over the past decade. The PS4 improved with the PS4 Slim and then the PS4 Pro, while Microsoft flooded the Xbox One market with the One S, One S All-Digital Edition, and a One And while it was long rumored that the Nintendo Switch Pro would never come to fruition, the Switch still saw hardware variations
This more frequent and incremental hardware release cadence mirrors other parts of the tech industry and allows these companies to test new ideas for hardware going forward. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition played a role in paving the way for the digital-only Xbox Series S. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony is experimenting with a new hardware approach with these updated PS5 models, even if they aren’t massive technical changes.
The most notable changes come with the new PS5 Digital Edition, which has slightly more storage space than its predecessor and lets people swap out one of its four faceplates for an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive that replaces the physical Runs the media. Typically, customization on the PS5 was limited to console covers. Now, instead of making modifications to the console for the hardcore gamer willing to take the console apart to increase storage, Sony is offering an optional upgrade that replaces a key aspect of the hardware initially purchased. Something like an extra disk drive is more common in the PC space but a rare occurrence on consoles.
As such, it looks like Sony is doing some important testing with this updated version of the PS5 Digital Edition. If successful, it could demonstrate that people are okay with more modular and upgradeable consoles. Daniel Ahmed, Director of Research and Insights, Niko Partners This sentiment was reflected onExplaining how Sony could use these updated consoles to test ideas for future platforms.
Ahmed writes, “The new digital version, with the option to purchase and attach a disk drive, may encourage additional sales because of that psychological factor, even with a $50 price increase. ” “That being said, I believe this is more indicative of Sony’s current thinking about its vision for the next generation. If the new digital version gains popularity and we see a continued trajectory of rising digital software sales, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony makes the Digital + Disc Drive add-on the default option for the next generation.
To Ahmed’s last point, this disk drive add-on could be the future for flagship gaming hardware. The gaming industry is becoming more digital-focused, as seen in the leaked mid-gen refreshNo disk drive at all. This is disappointing for fans of conservation and physics. Nevertheless, this more modular approach to console design may allow console manufacturers to support physical media in the future without requiring it on every console.
This, in turn, begs an important question: If the disk drive on the system is optional and can be swapped in and out, what else is modular on the system? Sony could use this approach to forgo mid-gen console refreshes with its next console, instead allowing players to replace individual pieces to make it better like it was on PC. It’s reminiscent of 1900s console add-ons like the Sega CD and 32X. Of course, Sony hasn’t announced its intentions to do anything like this, but this subtle change to the PS5 Digital Edition could have some significant effects on gaming hardware overall.
The downside of this design approach is that the more modular the hardware, the more expensive its design becomes. Look at how expensive new hardware for PC can be, or even getting a new PS5 Digital Edition and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive will be about $30 more expensive than buying a new standard PS5 model Which already comes with a disc. To drive. Even the vertical stand is now an expensive add-on rather than packaged with the console.
Part of the beauty of console gaming is its simplicity, and more flexible design can complicate things. Nevertheless, a future where game consoles are designed to be as customizable as PCs could give console players more options in customizing their gaming experience according to their personal preferences. However, the only option right now will be whether we want to add a disc drive or a vertical stand to our PS5 Digital Edition.