The PlayStation is getting more and more compartmentalised with each generation. In the process, it's getting more and more complicated.
Sifting through Sony’s stringent requirements for storage expansion on the PlayStation 5 earlier in the day really got me thinking — why do we buy a game console?
Do we buy it because it’s cheaper? You know, than say, building a PC. Do we get it because it’s easy? Since it’s all plug and play mostly and it stays that way for the rest of its life. Or do we buy it because it takes up less space in the cabinet?
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It’s a little bit of everything I reckon, but as I look at my PS5, it becomes clear, each of these parametres are being redefined in this generation. The console is becoming an expensive proposition. It is starting to get upgradable. Whatever I do, I just can’t seem to make it blend in with my décor. I don’t mind any of those things, to be honest. What concerns me is how the “PlayStation” is getting more and more compartmentalised with each generation. In the process, it’s getting more and more complicated.
There is absolutely no doubt that you’ll need to upgrade your PS5’s storage at some point of time. Even though it is advertised to come with 825GB of on-board SSD, only 667GB is available for use.
I am not even going into the size of individual games but just the fact that Sony requires you to download two different versions of the same game – like say, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for instance – should you own its PS4 version to be able to play its next-gen upgrade is plain stupid. Even more so when a PS5 copy of your existing game is smaller than its PS4 counterpart. Why would anybody want to play “spot the difference” between the two versions is beyond my understanding. Unless you’re vigilant, you’re not even going to know this happened in the background. That could be a reason why your PS5 is running low on storage.
The Xbox Series X and S are smarter that way. Also, the Series X has a 1TB SSD on paper (at 2.4GB/s, it’s slower than the PS5’s though) out of which 802GB is available for use. That’s 135GB more than the PS5.
But where the PS5 shines – at least in theory – is in the way that Sony is handling storage expansion. It is letting you upgrade the PS5’s storage with regular NVMe PC drives. By regular I mean relative to the Xbox Series X | S that support custom expansion cards. This was not available on day one, though. Sony is only starting to unlock the PS5’s M.2 SSD slot now – nearly nine months after the console started shipping – and even now, it is limited to beta users in select markets like the US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, and France.
It should arrive sooner rather than later for all users but what the beta release does is that it gives you a rough idea of what to expect so you can maybe go get yourself a supported SSD in advance. Hold that thought though because it’s not as simple as it looks.
Sony says you’ll need an M.2 SSD that’s PCIe Gen4 compliant and has read speeds of 5,500MB/s or faster. This is on expected lines. No issues there. But there’s a catch. Two in fact.
Sony is quick to note that it “cannot guarantee M.2 SSD devices meeting the described specifications will work with your console” and therefore it “assumes no responsibility for the selection, performance or use of third-party products.” Even if you somehow manage to get past this, and find yourself the right SSD, it adds “not all games are necessarily playable with the exact same performance provided by the PS5 console’s internal Ultra-High-Speed SSD, even where the M.2 SSD device’s sequential read speed is faster than 5500MB/s.”
Chances are an SSD like the Samsung 980 Pro (that is currently selling for Rs 27,000 on Amazon) may work just fine with your PS5, but here’s a question, wouldn’t it be easier if Sony just launched its own custom expansion drive for the PS5 with, I don’t know, Seagate maybe.
Like Microsoft has done for the Xbox Series X | S. The 1TB Seagate expansion card for Xbox Series X | S can match the performance of Microsoft’s Xbox Velocity Architecture tech while playing next-gen titles, which is to say you’ll have the same level of performance as you’re getting from the console’s internal storage. This includes access to Quick Resume as well.
Moreover, it’s a plug and play affair needing no manual assembly like the PS5. Those wary of the Xbox’s internal SSD getting slower with time can also rely completely on the external expansion card which is user replaceable – thereby extending the life of your console. At Rs 23,499, it’s not more expensive than its regular SSD equivalents either. My only gripe is that Seagate and Microsoft should come out with more configuration options so buyers can get more choice.
The PlayStation has always been the king in the North but this may be the first time the Xbox is beating it to the punch by being more open, transparent, gamer friendly and just a very, very compelling console for even the die-hard Sony fans. I don’t even have to tell you the perks of having Xbox Games Pass at this point of time and how gorgeous Microsoft Flight Simulator looks on the Series X (or how excited I am about Forza Horizon 5).
The Xbox Series X | S are not an alternative to the PS5. They are a must buy if you’re into console gaming — and provided you can get a hold of them.