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Is the PS5 Digital Edition a good or bad idea?

Sony surprised everyone at its Future of Games event by showcasing a previously unannounced Digital Edition of its forthcoming PS5 console, as well as a shed-load of new games.

As the name suggests, this is a PS5 with the optical media drive removed. That means no physical games or 4K Blu-Rays and you’ll have to download everything from the PlayStation Store.

This decision has caused quite a stir within the Trusted team, with some being all for the idea and others staunchly against it. Read on to see which side of the fence you’re going to be sitting on.

Related: Best PS5 games

The PS5 Digital Edition is a bad idea – It might not be as cost-effective as you think

The main attraction of a digital-only PS5 is a cheaper price, with the potential (this is purely speculation) that it could be approximately £100 cheaper than a model with an optical drive. That’s undeniably an attractive option on paper, but it may not offer the best value in the long term. 

The biggest issue is that you’ll be locked to the PS Store digital storefront, preventing you from being able to shop around for the best deal. Digital prices have admittedly become a lot more affordable in the past few years, but the PS Store is still more expensive than the likes of Amazon and Game UK. 

PS Store Amazon UK Game UK
Final Fantasy VII Remake £59.99 £44.99 £49.99
The Last of Us Part II £54.99 £52.99 £49.99
Ghost of Tsushima £54.99 £49.99 £49.99

Okay, so it’s only usually a difference of £5 at most, but that will build up over time. Plus, digital downloads rule out the option of trading in old games. The likes of Doom Eternal and Resident Evil 3 (both short games that can be completed quickly) can be traded in for £20 and £18 respectively, which would be a shame to miss out on. 

Competition is always a good thing, as it prevents retailers from exploiting customers by hiking up prices. Steam has shown it is possible for a platform to move almost completely over to a digital storefront, but the recent challenge from Epic Games Store has seen customers treated to free games and a consistent barrage of sales. The PS Store won’t have any such competition. 

Being fair, PlayStation has done a very good job of slashing the price of old games and offering frequent sales featuring AAA games, but if you’re the kind of person that likes to buy a game at launch, then going digital-only may not be the best option. 

If PlayStation offered a more robust offering on PS Now, its Netflix-style subscription service, the digital-only PS5 would be a more attractive proposition. The Digital-Only Xbox One S makes more sense because of Games Pass, as Microsoft includes every new first-party title from day one, including Halo Infinite. But Sony is unlikely to bundle the likes of Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part II and Horizon Forbidden West into PS Now at launch since they will generate so much money. 

And finally, let’s not forget that by committing to digital you’ll be missing out on a 4K Blu-Ray optical drive. A decent 4K Blu-Ray player typically costs around £200, and while it’s true most people consume film via Netflix and Disney Plus these days, it’s still a great value bonus feature to have on the PS5. 

I can appreciate that many people won’t make the most of that feature, but I still think PlayStation has to set a much larger price difference than £100 for the digital-only PS5 to justify the omission.

Ryan Jones, Computing editor

Related: PS5 vs Xbox Series X

The PS5 Digital Edition is a great idea – I am all for the simplicity

Sony’s decision to release a discless PS5 is a clear move to reduce the console’s up front cost and I am all for the move. Make no mistake, this will be the version I buy.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought a piece of physical media. I haven’t picked up a boxed copy of a game or a Blu-Ray in years and I can’t imagine myself starting again anytime soon. Not only is it often a waste of plastic, but where do I put all these boxes? Stored away somewhere that makes it a faff getting to them when I need to. No thanks.

But that’s one of many reasons why the Digital Edition speaks to me too. Buying games digitally is just so much easier – I can preload a game and know that come release day it’ll be ready and waiting for me to play. When The Last of US 2’s release day rolls around I won’t have to venture out to buy the game or wait for it to be delivered, I’ll have it sitting on my PS4 ready to play. I know you’ll be able to do this anyway whichever version you buy, but why do I need to pay for the addition of a disc drive I will never use?

As you’ll see from Ryan’s argument, there is a cost-benefit to buying physical. And yes, even though I expect the Digital Edition to save me money in the short-term, the pricier games – and the fact they’re only available from the PlayStation Store – will cost more going forward. But, again, I prefer simplicity and I am happy to pay a couple of quid more for all the benefits digital brings. I have also found Sony’s PS Store sales a lot more interesting recently and games have been dropping in price. For someone like me, who rarely buys a game full price on release this has been seriously welcome. I picked up Days Gone for £15.99 (a fair price, I must say) and Death Stranding for under £25. I have to say I am glad I didn’t pay full price for either.

The lack of an optical drive should have other benefits too. I haven’t seen the console in person yet but ditching the side-mounted drive does seem to result in a sleeker console that looks even more futuristic. There’s always the chance this model might come with more storage too, another benefit I would like to see.

PS5

It looks better, right?

I’ll be saving myself money on the initial outlay and losing a feature I don’t think I would ever use in the process. I’d be downloading all the games anyway, so really it’s a win-win situation.

Max Parker, Managing editor

So, we’ve had our say – now it’s your turn. Tweet us @trustedreviews to tell us which version of the PS5 you’ll be buying when they’re released later in the year.

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