Beware of the Hidden Costs of Buying an All-Digital Gaming Console

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are the first living room game consoles to have fully digital versions at launch. This means no fiddling with disks and this is a lower price first.

PS5 Digital Edition at $ 400 is $ 100 less than the base PS5. The $ 300 Xbox Series S is $ 200 cheaper than the Series X. That’s great, right? Quick discount on next-gen console? Not really.

The PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S have a few caveats that don’t apply to the standard PS5 or Xbox Series X. And while you can save money in the short term, you’ll probably end up spending more in the long term. – the term when you go to digital format only. Here’s what we mean:

Costly SSD upgrades will be required

PS5 and Xbox Series X games will require 50GB of storage, and some will require 100GB or more . As games get bigger and more complex, they will need even more space. That’s a lot of data.

All next-gen PS5 and Xbox models will have to deal with these large rigs taking up precious SSD space, but this will be more problematic for digital-only consoles as this is the only way to store games locally in playable state.

You will probably want to upgrade your system’s SSD at some point. Unfortunately, the new SSD will cost almost as much as the console itself. The PS5 and Xbox Series X use ultra-fast NVMe SSDs, which are great for gaming, but bad for your wallet. The first PS5 compatible SSDs are expected to cost around $ 230 for 1TB , but will likely drop in price slowly as more companies release PS5 compatible drives.

On the other hand, the Xbox Series X and Series S will use Microsoft branded solid state drives, which will retail for $ 220. Unlike third-party PS5 drives, proprietary hardware rarely, if ever, drops in price. Considering the all-digital S-Series only comes with a 512GB SSD, that extra $ 200 you saved will likely go to a new SSD within a year or so. At this point, you can also just buy the Xbox Series X as it already has a 1TB SSD and you can take advantage of the freedoms provided by physical media.

External drives cannot play new games

“But Brendan – I can hear you say – what if I just use an external SSD or hard drive like I do on PS4 or Xbox One?” Unfortunately, not everything is so simple.

The PS5 and Xbox Series X / S have USB ports, and yes, you can plug an external storage device into them. However, you will only be able to play older games — PS4 games on PS5 or Xbox One, and 360 games on newer Xbox — from an external device. You can move PS5 and Xbox Series X / S game data to an external drive if you want to offload it from your console’s SSD, but you can’t play it from an external drive . It’s a worthy compromise, but not perfect.

You will need a decent internet service

All PS5 and Xbox Series X / S owners will have to deal with large installations and bulky storage options, but the standard PS5 and Xbox Series X can install these games from disc.

The fully digital PS5 or Xbox Series S must first download each game and then install it. Large games will take a while to install, but may take much longer to download. You will probably want to upgrade your internet service to higher speeds and maybe even rethink your home network setup if your Wi-Fi speed is slow or you can’t get an Ethernet cable to your router in your current configuration.

Of course, not everyone has high-speed internet access – and even if you do, downloading a new game will eat up large chunks of data limits that your ISP has likely set in your monthly plan. If you live with a gamer’s roommate or family that is always downloading and streaming, going over the data limit can result in slower speeds if you’re lucky and additional costs if not. Installing a game from disc becomes less annoying, right?

Games will cost more

Several PS5 and Xbox Series X games are priced at $ 70 , so it’s fair to expect $ 70 to become the new industry standard for all games in the near future. It’s expensive, but physical copies often go on sale shortly after release, and you can always trade or sell games to afford new ones (the GameSpot approach), borrow a copy from a friend, or use a rental service like GameFly.

If you own a digital console, you can say goodbye to your GameSpot membership. You cannot sell, trade, or return your digital purchases. If you don’t like the game, you will not be able to exchange it for friends for what you would rather play.

You can’t digitally rent games either, although subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus allow you to play tons of games for a low monthly price (which is similar to renting). But if you stop paying for the subscription or the game is removed from the library, you will lose access to it.

Buying a physical copy of a game ensures that you can play it anytime, anywhere – even on someone else’s console, quite easily. Unfortunately, digital games hold their $ 60 (and soon $ 70) price tag for much longer and rarely go on sale. Unless the market changes dramatically, expect to pay full price for games, even if they are two, three, five or more years old. We call this the Nintendo approach .

Should you still consider a digital-only console?

Despite these caveats, I think the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S are worth exploring if you understand their limitations and can work around them. A lot of people are happy to enjoy a compact and fully digital lifestyle, and you may need extra space to install these giant machines .

The lower start-up cost will make it easier to move to the next generation of your console, even if you need to gradually upgrade later. And let’s face it, the all-digital subscription-based model is where the industry seems to be heading anyway. You could accept this.

However, I think there are more specific reasons for using drive models, for example if you rely on used games, sales or rentals of any kind to play new games. The same is true if you live in an area with limited internet access or if you are a collector who prefers tangible physical media. In such cases, save a little more and buy the stock PS5 or Xbox Series X instead. By then, maybe these new boxes will really pay off .

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