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Feature Friday: Should you get a digital console?
Why getting a Xbox Series S or PS5 Digital may not be best for you
GameStop, teardowns, and insight into if a digital console is right for you.
Read time: 10 minutes
Here are small and developing stories you should keep your eye on.
GameStop partners with Microsoft: in a stunning press release, GameStop announced a multi-year partnership with Microsoft. Much of the press release covered how Microsoft will impact GameStop stores and the overall experience within them. Along with adopting an omnichannel marketing approach regarding the consumer, GameStop mentioned that many of their employees will be outfitted Microsoft Surface devices to “transform the in-store experience and help unlock new retail experiences in the future.” It’s another splashy move by the Xbox manufacturer, and it once again shows just how willing and ready they are for opportunities. But while this was viewed as a win for Microsoft, many also saw it as a necessary (and even last-chance) move for GameStop. The long-time game store had seen a dip in sales and revenue over the last two years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made this worse, as consumers are no longer able to make it into their stores. It’s been one of the few companies within the gaming industry to falter, as many other companies and brands have flourished in this time period. But with the partnership, they’re seeing renewed life, and investing site Motely Fool evens stated that their stock had risen by 25%.
GameSpot layoffs: although the gaming industry as a whole is currently booming, that can’t be said for every company. Long-time gaming news and reviews website, GameSpot, is laying off a handful of its employees. Two employees already announced they had been laid off, with one of them tying the decision to the acquisition of CNET Media Group (GameSpot’s parent company) by Red Ventures. This happens after over a decade of working under ViacomCBS, which purchased GameSpot (and other sites) for $1.8 billion. These same sites are now being purchased at only $500 million, a sizeable drop from their initial purchase back in 2008. The full story can be found at gamingindustry.biz.
PS5 teardown: well, we finally got a look into the PS5. Literally. On Wednesday, Sony uploaded a video of Sony’s Yasuhiro Ootori (VP of Mechanical Design) actually taking apart a PS5 console and explaining the parts within it. The video was quite simple, as it was literally just Ootori taking apart the next-gen console and providing context around certain parts he removed. For the average consumer, this may not generate a lot of excitement, but this video has left people who understand gaming tech pretty excited. But, like anything within console gaming, the video also led to a lot of trolling, with much of the attention directed towards the PS5 stand. Unlike consoles in the past, the PS5 requires a stand to properly sit vertically or horizontally. Xbox fanboys, and the actual Xbox twitter account itself, actually made fun of this need by showcasing a video on how they can transition the Xbox Series X from vertical to horizontal. How? By literally placing the console on its side. It was a funny moment that, surprisingly, had a lot more people upset. Anyways, the teardown video is worth checking out if you’re into gaming tech, and you can find it here.
Should you get a digital console?
In the weeks leading up to the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, I’ll be dedicating my “Feature Fridays” to answering consumer questions you may have. Gaming can be expensive, and nothing’s worse than investing your money in a console, game, product, or service that you find no value in. If you have any questions on what you should get or if you’re stuck between two choices, feel free to let me know, and I’ll make sure to answer it in this section.
Remember, you can reach out to me at anytime, and I make sure to reply to every message I receive. Simply reply to this email, and that ensures your message gets sent directly to my inbox.
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of news around the Xbox Series X and PS5. It should be no surprise, as these are the top-tier console models that each company wants you to buy. This has only been made more clear in the decision making, shipping, and marketing approach to each console.
For Microsoft, they’ve openly stated that the upcoming Xbox Series S is an “entry-level” console for consumers, and they’ve outfitted it as such. Along with no disc-drive, the Series S also has a smaller SSD (512 GB compared to the Series X’s 1TB) and can only run up to 4K resolution. As for Sony, the PS5 Digital is nearly identical to the traditional PS5, but along with being priced at $100 less, there are significantly fewer PS5 Digital units available. Multiple reports have stated that the ratio split between the digital and traditional PS5 is large, with some splits as wide as 20/80.
As for the marketing, Microsoft has sent numerous test units of the Series X to media outlets and influencers, while Sony provided a test unit of the PS5 for Japanese media members and a teardown video of the unit.
But frankly, not everyone needs to get a traditional PS5 or the Xbox Series X. For a lot of consumers, the digital versions may be the best bet for you. But it all depends on what you’re looking for, your expectations, and your gaming habits.
I’m here to help make the decision for you a little easier (or at least quell any doubts about your current decision).
Why you should go digital
I get why many people are opting to go digital, and it’s the same reason why I wanted to do it at first. The cost of entry is pretty cheap.
For the Xbox Series S, you’ll be paying an affordable $299. It’s an appealing price tag, and a lot more people can afford it because of that. Plus, if you’re already an Xbox owner and you purchase the Series S, you’ll already be saving on accessories, as you won’t have to purchase a new controller. The Xbox One controllers will be compatible with the next-gen Xbox, which is a great plus for those that are looking to save money where they can. Oh, and you’ll have a great payment plan available if you can’t pay for the Series S at full price. At $24.99 for 24 months, you’ll not only own the Series S, but you’ll also have access to the Xbox Ultimate Game Pass. There isn’t too much savings difference when buying it upfront or opting for a payment plan, but you’ll certainly have options, and that’s great.
As for the PS5 Digital, you’ll have to pay $399, which is $100 less than what you’d pay for a traditional PS5. The great thing about the PS5 Digital is that, for $100, you’re still getting the same performance. Nothing about the digital version is different than the regular PS5 outside of not having a disc drive. So you won’t have to worry about “upgrading” your console, and you can rest easy knowing that what you have is what you can stick with for the next few years.
As for the Series S performance, it’s certainly weaker than the Series X, but don’t let that deter you. The Series S is still a powerful console, and it’s better than many of the current-gen consoles you see today. At $299, you do compromise a little on performance though. As mentioned, you’ll only have 512GB of SSD and can only play games up to 4K resolution, but if you’re a more casual gamer, the differences won’t be major. The visuals you see will still be better than the current-gen consoles.
But, the real benefit of an all-digital console is its convenience. Over the last few years, gamers have been increasingly exposed to the online marketplaces provided by Xbox and PlayStation. What was once a cool place to buy some DLC, custom avatar skins, and backgrounds for the main menu is now a robust market that gives gamers a chance to buy games at the touch of a button. The digital version of each console provides you with exactly that, and it takes away the hassle of having to insert a disc or buy it at a physical store.
Want a certain game? Awesome, load up the store, select the game, pay for it, and download it. It’s that simple, and you’ll be able to play games quicker than ever, as each console has shown supremely fast download, upload, and install speeds.
And each console does come with a solid library of free games (as long as you pay for their subscription/membership). The PlayStation offers two free PS Plus games every month, and PS5 owners will have access to the PS Plus Collection, which is a curated list of the top PS4 titles to be released. The Xbox offers it’s own marketplace and provides a handful of new games every month as well. For those that opt for the Ultimate Game Pass, owners will have access to hundreds of Xbox titles that span generations. From the original Halo to Doom Eternal, Xbox owners have a wide selection of games available to them, all for free with a subscription.
Why you shouldn’t go digital
Although a cheaper, all-digital console provides owners with a handful of benefits, there are a couple of downsides to the consoles that you need to think about.
One of the downsides of having a digital console is the lack of memory you’ll have. Oftentimes, you could own 20+ games and still be fine with your console’s storage space. Since the console is only housing your game’s progress, it shouldn’t consume that much space. Things have certainly changed in the last few years, as game installations now take up part of your console’s memory as well, but you still didn’t have to worry about the entire game being housed within it. That’s not the case with a digital console, as you’ll have to store the entire game, it’s installation, and all in-game progress you have.
As a result? You’ll be using up a lot of space, and the number of games you have won’t be nearly as extensive compared to owning a disc. There will be some points where you’ll have to delete a game to make space for something else, especially if you enjoy data and memory consumers like Call of Duty Warzone. If you don’t want to delete the game, you could opt for an external hard drive, but that could be pricey depending on what you get (Seagate’s 1TB memory chip costs around $220).
Oh, and you won’t be able to play any next-gen games directly from your external drive. If you off-load that game from your console, you’ll need to redownload the game to access it. Fortunately, that’s not the case with all games, and you will still be able to play older generation games directly from the external drive.
Next, you need to think about internet service.
An all-digital console will need to go through the additional hassle of not only downloading the game but installing it too. Depending on your internet provider and how you have your console connected, that could take up a considerable amount of time, even for a next-gen console. Take time to review your setup and, if possible, try to hardwire your console into the router. This is your best bet for a quality connection, as WiFi can be iffy, especially if you’re far away from the router.
Although having access to a plethora of games is nice, it is worth asking yourself if the time it takes to download it will be worth it. It’s a surprise to even consider this, but it’s something to think about as we transition to an all-digital gaming world.
Lastly, you need to think about long-term costs.
A big upside about owning a regular console is your ability to borrow games from friends and buying used games. In fact, buying used games is something that almost every gamer has done at one point in their life.
You see a new game. You wait a week/month/year for the game to be placed on the “used” section of your gaming store. You then buy the “used” game at a discounted rate.
That won’t be possible with a digital-only console, and you’ll have to buy games at full price or wait for the special deals that come on the marketplace throughout the year. And you likely won’t see any discounts on any new titles for a while. Oh, and you won’t be able to trade-in or sell games. I don’t see this as a big negative though, as stores like GameStop are notoriously stingy about their trade-in policies and what they offer.
And with games slowly transitioning to the $70 price tag, that’s additional money that’ll be coming out of your wallet. Sure, you could opt for the Ultimate Game Pass or PS Plus Collection, but you won’t have access to the brand new titles that come out. The only games you play are what’s provided in the collection and library, as well as anything new added throughout the year (which will certainly not be any newly released titles).
I hope this helps with your buying process, and let me know what you decide to get!
Personally, I’m sticking with the traditional PS5. Although the appeal of a digital-only console is strong, I love owning a disc and having a physical collection I can look back to (and show off).
Today marks one month since the official launch of AFK News.
What started as a throwaway idea has blossomed into something more, and it’s been incredible to see how this newsletter has changed over the course of one month.
I just want to say thanks to all of you who have joined me on this journey so far. Again, I credit the growth and structure of this newsletter to you, and it’s been a privilege to share my thoughts on gaming and have those thoughts enter your inbox.
It’s something I don’t take lightly, especially in a space where there are so many other outlets.
As always, you’re free to share your thoughts on the newsletter. Let me know what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to see more of. I love reader feedback, and some of that feedback has even been implemented into the newsletter!
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Again, thanks for making this last month a blast, and I can’t wait for month two.
See you on Monday!