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Sony PlayStation 5 release date, specs: Are physical copies going obsolete?

From the 'Star Wars Saga' Bundle promo video. | Photo by PlayStation/YouTube screenshot

The introduction of new and high-powered specs on a next-generation such as PlayStation 5 is a given. But since new hardware products are often anticipated to adapt to changes in the technological trend, some gaming fans have been wondering whether Sony is considering to ditch physical media in the coming year.

This is not a random concern. In recent years, digital sales have significantly overcome that of physical games. These are valid factors that may influence the decision of making PlayStation 5 completely digital.

PlayStation 5 confirmed specs: Good news for physical media lovers

Market data shows more people are going digital. But many gamers likely still like purchasing game discs from physical stores. The experience of lining up at a store, purchasing a game disc, and stacking it up along with their other game collections could be one reason. Others might also prefer it the old-fashioned way due to unreliable internet service providers. Luckily, PlayStation 5 will still cater to them.

When Sony PlayStation lead systems architect revealed key details about the PlayStation 5 earlier this year (via Wired), he confirmed that the next-generation console would not ditch physical media. It appears that it was not in Sony’s plan to make it a download-exclusive platform for good and very technical reasons.

Though PlayStation 5 is confirmed to be a next-gen offer, it is still built based on PS4’s architecture. Also, the upcoming console is confirmed to introduce backward compatibility in the PlayStation ecosystem.

PS4 was first sold in 2013 and is owned by more than 90 million people as of January. This means that a significant number of gamers may still own many games in physical copies. And making PlayStation 5 a download-only console will defeat the purpose of introducing backward compatibility.

Physical media could still be around for more years

Considering the technical reasons why PlayStation 5 cannot ditch physical media, it is hard to predict when digital-exclusive consoles are going to be a thing. But the market trend suggests, it is not impossible. Statista reports that 2013 marked the first year when digital sales surpassed the income generated by games on discs, 54 percent to 46 percent. Fast forward to 2018, digital sales’ advantage grew to 83 percent.

However, gaming fans must not worry about that for now. PlayStation 5 and its counterpart from Xbox’s Project Scarlett are expected to be released in 2020, and these are some of the biggest things in the gaming industry to look forward to.

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