The PS5 release date may still be a few years away, but there’s plenty of talk about the next-generation. Will PS5 become the first major console to ditch physical games altogether? Will Sony stick to the traditional disc drive, or is it possible we could see the emergence of Nintendo Switch-esque cartridges?
Let’s take a look at each possibility.
PS5 Cartridges Unlikely
Following the reveal of a new Sony patent back in November, speculation was rife that PS5 cartridges could be a reality. This patent was since revealed to be connected to the Sony Toio controller and not related to PlayStation 5 at all, pretty much debunking the theory.
The likelihood of Sony putting its games onto cartridges for PS5 is slim indeed. First up, there’s the cost of manufacturing and that cost being passed onto the customer. Secondly, there’s the storage limitations – carts hold far less data than Blu-Ray discs do.
Some PS5 games will support huge files. The bigger the game cartridge the more it costs to produce. Switch games are less demanding, and even Nintendo has delayed its production of 64GB cartridges which are still yet to be launched due to “technical issues”.
Not having an optical drive or making cloud storage mandatory are both far more tenable concepts than using carts right now.
Will The PS5 Feature Digital Downloads Only?
The PS5 PlayStation Network infrastructure is rumoured to be having a major update. What this means right now we don’t know, but there’s the potential Sony could be laying the groundwork to move to a digital-only platform.
However, we don’t think it will happen at this stage. The popularity of purchasing digital content has only exploded in recent years, yet the infrastructure, data caps from ISPs and the lack of fast internet connections across the board around the world, would make it difficult for a wider embrace.
Downloads on PS5 could exceed 80GB+ on the bigger games, meaning it could take a long time to download for those who don’t have fast enough internet connections.
Then there’s all those game stores who will selling the PS5 console, but wouldn’t have any games to sell with it to maintain profit margins. What’s the incentive for them?
We reckon digital-only game downloads will be coming at some point, but not in the next console generation.
Will PS5 Have A Disc-Drive?
Sony has a quad-layer Blu-ray Disc, but the current PS4 and PS4 Pro do not support it due to their older optical drives. The BDXL disc can hold 128GB of data compared to the current 50GB dual-layer disc. With file sizes of PS5 games undoubtedly even bigger than PS4 games, we believe the PS5 disc drive will be upgraded to support these discs where native 4K textures look likely to be the norm.
The downside to consumers is that these discs will be more costly to produce, with those costs being passed onto players looking to buy a physical copy of their favorite game.
The humble standard Blu-Ray drive has served Sony well on PlayStation consoles over the years. The upgrade to a new drive and the ability to use more storage on the BDXL disc should mean that the PS5 era will still allow players to make their choice between digital and physical media.