PS5 embraces the digital generation with discless console

Sony’s PS5 reveal delivered a host of new titles for fans to get excited about, but the big surprise came in the form of a new discless console dubbed the ‘Digital Edition’. 

For the most part, you’d have to call the PS5 reveal a resounding success for Sony. While one or two fan favourite franchises were absent from the event (cough God of War), fans were treated to first looks at Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and multiplatform games like Resident Evil: Village, Indies like Stray, and lots more all running native on the PS5. 

Upwards of 3 million tuned in across different streaming platforms to finally see the results of ultra-plugged features like the 825GB SSD and ray tracing on the next generation of games, but the main event was always going to be the console reveal itself. And it didn’t disappoint. 

While some have likened the look to a ‘giant broadband router’ on Twitter, the reception has been mostly positive, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Let’s Go Digital’s pizza heater mock-up was a far cry from the real thing. Instead, the unit has been designed in a similar vein to the controller, a black centre is encased by a sleek white shell, complete with PlayStation’s iconic neon blue trim. 

That wasn’t the main topic of discussion online following the announcement though. As the show neared its end Sony casually dropped the humdinger, with no prior inkling mind, that a discless edition of the PS5 (the ‘Digital Edition’) will be available at launch come holiday 2020. 

Why is this big news? 

Sony has traditionally been reluctant to fully embrace the digital era of gaming. But this has to be a turning point, if ever I’ve seen one. 

Rivals Microsoft has found a winning formula with Xbox Game Pass: a monthly subscription that provides Xbox Live owners with 100+ rotating titles for free, including all first-party exclusives. Over 10 million players across 41 countries are currently using the service and during lockdown this player base is said to have ‘contributed heavily’ to a record 90 million monthly users on Xbox. 

PS fans had previously questioned Sony’s desire to tap into the digital market, with the PlayStation Now subscription coming up well short of the standard set by Phil Spencer and Co. But the release of the PS5 Digital Edition demonstrates a real hunger to get in on the act and to close the gap in that regard.

The future is digital 

While it’s nice to bulk out our personal libraries, it’s becoming increasingly evident that players don’t quite see the same value in owning physical copies of games anymore. There’s a clear consumer demand and industry intention to make gaming as accessible and convenient as possible, and the release of the PS5 Digital Edition is definitive proof of the fact. 

Personally, I don’t remember the last time I picked up a game in store. With digital copies you can start downloading games the second they launch, and play them across multiple consoles at the touch of a button without having to remember the disc. And with subscription services like Game Pass, Steam, and PSN, there’s a huge variety of games to get stuck into almost instantly. 

Digital titles are also mandatory to make the most of port features such as Xbox Play Anywhere – which allows Microsoft exclusives to be played on a Windows PC. One could argue, when buying physical copies you’re choosing resale value over ‘the full experience’.

Either way, the Digital Edition will be a nice option to have once the PS5 hits the shelves. And you can bet it’ll be a fair bit cheaper than the standard too. 

As Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO Jim Ryan stated last night: It’s all about choice. Stay tuned for further updates on the PS5. 

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