How to Decide Between the PS5 Digital or Disc Version

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When you’re in the market for a gaming console, the Sony PlayStation 5 (PS5) is a compelling choice. The PS5 has a solid game library, helped in no small part by its ability to let you play PS4 games, and it’s among the best gaming consoles available right now. If you narrowed down your choice to the PS5, you’ll face a new conundrum—digital vs. disc. The PS5 is available in two variants and only one of them has a disc drive.

How much does a PS5 cost?

The PS5 disc variant currently costs $499 while the PS5 Digital Edition is priced at $449. You can save $50 by forgoing the disc drive, but that deprives you of the chance to buy pre-owned game discs at bargain prices. Remember that the PS5 has a few hidden costs that inflate its actual price.

PS5 games: Digital vs. disc

Some people hate the hassle of storing physical discs and in general, prefer downloading games digitally. If that sounds like you, then the PS5 Digital Edition is the right choice. However, you should be aware that you’ll then be restricting yourself to buying games off the PS Store, which isn’t really known to host great sales.

On the other hand, you can consider spending more initially to get the PS5 disc variant and end up saving much more in the long run. You can order the latest games at full price, finish them, and sell them to someone else. If you finish a game in a week, you could still recover most of the money you spent. In case you’re not the type to buy the latest games, then you can get the games you want at really low prices. Pre-owned PS4 discs are often available at around $10 and you can find PS5 pre-owned games at $20 or thereabouts. You also still buy games off the digital PS Store whenever you want.

In my opinion, the extra money is worth it unless you’re planning to be subscribed to PlayStation Plus all year and only play the games available for free via that service.

Do games installed from a disc use less storage space?

Storage is a big part of the PS5 digital vs. disc debate, but honestly, there’s nothing to worry about here. By buying discs, you aren’t really saving all that much space; once installed, games take up roughly the same amount of storage on your PS5. Even if you install a game via a disc, it’ll still receive updates periodically and these inflate its size over time. 

Both the Digital Edition and the disc variant of the PS5 ship with 1TB of storage and you can buy an M2 SSD to expand it. 

Desk space is worth thinking about

A PS5 slim disc variant with a DualSense Controller

Credit: Sony

You should be aware that the PS5 disc variant takes up a bit more desk space than the Digital Edition. The PS5 Digital Edition is 3.1 inches wide, and the disc variant is 3.7 inches wide. The difference is pretty small, but if you have limited desk space available, this can make a difference.

The case for buying a PS5 disc edition

My colleague Brendan is a big proponent of physical media because it’s the only way to truly own something you’re buying. Digital purchases, including games, can be delisted from the store for various issues and at times this means you won’t able to access the game even if you paid full price for it. I embraced this philosophy with video games and thanks to that, I have a small collection of physical games that I happily play on my PS5. 

This means that I don’t have to be online to play my games; I own the games I bought; and if I were to choose to let go of some of my games, I could sell them and recover some of the original cost. 

The case for buying a PS5 Digital Edition

As much as I love my disc variant, it’s worth acknowledging that with the advent of PS5’s Netflix-like PlayStation Plus subscription, the PS5 Digital Edition may just be the right choice for some people. It allows you to play as many games as you want for a single monthly subscription fee, with the catch being that the game catalogue keeps changing. The subscription also relies on you having a good internet connection and has had its share of issues that inadvertently removed people’s access to purchased games.

For those who buy games, the PS5 Digital Edition does take away the option to buy physical media, but installing games online is far more convenient. For some people, that convenience and the lower price are good enough reasons to go all-digital.

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