PS5 PlayStation5

PlayStation 5: Is South Africa ready for a digital console?

Sony livestreamed a PS5 event on 11 June which showcased a host of new games. The highlight of the event was the reveal of the PS5 console.


PS5 PlayStation5

The new PlayStation 5 console is big news for gamers.

It is far more eccentric than its predecessors, and features a black, white and blue colour scheme.

To the surprise of many, there will be two versions of the PS5. The first is the standard edition while the second is the digital edition which lacks the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive of the standard edition.

Before we get hyped for the arrival of the PS5, we must ask whether South Africa is ready for a console that is incompatible with physical media like a game disc.

Upsides and downsides to physical media

Physical media has merits and downsides. Many gamers enjoy owning physical copies of their favourite games. Some publishers offer special editions of games in metal cases, have beautiful artbooks and come with decorative figurines. Furthermore, some take pride in having large physical libraries to show off.

Owners of the digital edition of the PS5 would have less incentive to purchase special editions of their favourite games. After all, while the extras might be appealing, they would be unable to use the game discs.

Some gamers might be quite happy to ditch the physical market forever. Game discs can break, and gamers who travel a lot might find it cumbersome to lug their discs around if they travel with their console.

Second-hand gaming market

Another aspect to consider is the second-hand gaming market. Gaming can be quite expensive, and many gamers rely on the second-hand gaming market to buy games for lower prices and to sell games they no longer play.

A digital-only PS5 would prevent gamers from benefitting from the second-hand gaming market.

PS4 PlayStation 4 Red Dead Redemption
PlayStation games like ‘Red Dead Redemption’ need a lot of data to play online

Sony might be quite happy with this as it means gamers will be forced to purchase their games from the PS Store. However, for gamers who find themselves frequently buying and selling second-hand games, the digital edition PS5 is probably not a good fit.

Will movie buffs be happy?

Without a disc drive, the digital-only PS5 will also be unable to play Blu-ray movies on disc. For movie fanatics this may be a deal-breaker. However, for those who do not use their consoles to watch movies, it may be a worthwhile sacrifice.

Is South Africa’s internet infrastructure ready?

The biggest hurdle for the digital edition PS5 to overcome in South Africa is internet connectivity.

Thanks to mobile networks and the increasing number of cellphones, more South Africans than ever have access to the internet.

However, PlayStation games are often large, and need a robust internet connection to download games speedily.

According to Cable website, in 2019 South Africa had a mean download speed of 8.4 Mbps and it took, on average, 1 hour and 21 minutes to download a 5GB movie.

To put that into perspective, Red Dead Redemption 2, a popular game by Rockstar Games, is listed as 89.19 GB on the PS Store while The Last f Us Part II weighs in at a whopping 93.37 GB.

For many gamers, especially those whose internet speed is lower than the average, it is simply more convenient to buy games physically.

Is the PS5 Digital Edition for You?

Many laptops today no longer have disc drives, and it is clear that the world is making a gradual shift towards digital media.

Nevertheless, one should not forget that a high-speed internet connection is a luxury that many South Africans do not have. Whether the digital edition PS5 will be a success in South Africa has yet to be seen.

However, it is good that Sony is giving gamers options. If you have a reliably fast internet connection, and do not buy your games second-hand, the digital edition PS5 might be just what you need.

For those with spotty internet, or who use their consoles to watch movies on Blu-ray discs, perhaps it is better to invest in the standard edition.