The PS5 Slim Settles The Physical Vs. Digital Debate, And I’m All For It

Choosing the safe way out.

Story Highlights

  • PS5 Slim is now official ($499.99 Disc model, $449.99 Digital, $79.99 Blu-Ray Drive), featuring a detachable disk drive and a higher 1 TB SSD.
  • Physical vs Digital games is a prevailing dilemma. Physical games have resale potential and better ownership while digital have ease of use and discounted options.
  • Both sides also bear strong demerits. Physical discs carry the risk of damage, and digital media is never truly owned.
  • Giving players a reversible decision and the potential benefits of the Slim model, the PS5 Slim might become the better base version.

Whenever two different sources of a particular product or service emerge, so does the age-old debate of which is better and the supporters of both sides stand up. A similar case occurs in video games as well. Let me ask you this, what do you prefer? Do you want your games to be on physical discs or digitally downloaded from stores? If you’re stuck in a dilemma, I assure you you’re not alone.

The Physical vs Digital games debate has been around ever since digital media started gaining popularity. If you get into it, both sides will give quite strong arguments to convince you, so getting stuck is no wonder. The dilemma became a lot more serious when Sony released two different versions of the PS5; a cheaper, digital-only, and the more expensive Disc-supported version. What to do now? The current owners might’ve had to struggle, but prospective buyers now have an easy way out — PS5 Slim.

YouTube video

So, how exactly does the PS5 Slim solve the problem? To keep it short, PS5 Slim comes with a detachable Blu-Ray Drive which can be acquired anytime, so you don’t have to go through all the struggle of deciding which version is superior. This luxury was not available to us who got the PS5 on launch. Thus, to highlight how important the PS5 Slim’s design choice was, let’s first look into why the Physical vs Digital debate is a big deal.

Why Choose Physical Media?

Gaming has been around a lot longer than the availability of digital media. In the pre-internet era, physical products like cartridges and discs were the only option. Visiting stores and scurrying around for my favorite games is one of my treasured childhood memories. Thus, old-school gamers like me have a familiarity and nostalgia with physical games, but that’s not the only merit.

Digital Vs Physical Games
by inPS4

An important factor is how I can resell physical games and buy used discs at cheaper costs. Of course, I can also store them for collection purposes, but at least re-sell is a possibility here unlike digital, which is one of the major perks. Speaking of the collection, I believe the most significant advantage of physical media is absolute ownership. You never own digital games, you purchase a license and it might go away at the parent company’s whims when that service goes under.

Your ownership of physical games is never challenged, but that is quickly changing too now. Similarly, another merit that appears for larger games is the download size. For people like me with internet issues, copying a game from a disc is much faster. Downloading a 100 GB game with the ever-looming sense of dread that it might fail is a nightmare. These merits are all well and good, but some crucial flaws also exist like the allotment of physical space to the discs instead of storage.

Storing physical media takes up space. With improper care, it might get damaged, ruining your investment in an instant. You can download digital games and then rest easy, but physical discs need to be looked after to prevent their doom and your money going down the drain. Couple that with the limited stock of physical media and the high initial prices, and you might want to look for the dual PS5 Slim or the modern option — Digital games.

Damage the disc and it's over.
Damage the disc and it’s over.

What About Digital Games Then?

Digital gaming is a product of gradual technological advancement. I’ve been using physical media for as long as I can remember. But, when I started purchasing digital games, I couldn’t help but acknowledge it could potentially become the dominant choice. Several factors reinforce this. Probably the most critical advantages are huge discounts and the presence of subscription services.

Unless you’re getting used games, physical discs don’t fall in price for a long time. But, you can get digital games a lot cheaper on some pretty generous sales, especially on Steam. Subsequently, subscription services are a savior for modern gamers. For a comparatively very small subscription price, you can get access to hundreds of games. Believe me when I say these services are insane value. And the merits don’t stop there.

Subscription services like PS Plus are a godsend.
Subscription services like PS Plus are a godsend.

Digital games are hassle-free to handle. I can get my favorite games at my convenience, with no trouble of checking third-party stores for game availability as physical copies can run out. Just use your credit card to pay and get instant access. These reasons make a pretty strong case for digital games but wait just a moment. There is a darker side to it as well. Not being able to reclaim value by re-selling is just a part of the bigger picture.

Probably the reason why I think it’ll take a lot more time for digital to conquer physical is the fleeting sense of ownership. As I mentioned earlier, you never entirely own digital media, you sort of “rent” it. Take a look at Nintendo’s e-shop closure. While you can still access your games, steps like these result in a severe preservation crisis, and this unpredictable feeling of eventual doom is digital’s most game-changing flaw.

A huge reason to continue buying physical games
byu/Hwbam33 ingamecollecting

PS5 Slim Says Why Falter When You Can Switch Anytime

The problem with the base PS5 models was the near-irreversible decision. The digital version was a whopping $100 cheaper than the disc one with the same specs. For those who preferred digital games and were on a tight budget, it was an excellent option. But taking into account all these features of the two modes, the decision was difficult. What if you get the digital one and then change your mind later?

Should I buy a PS5 digital edition or save up for the disk edition
byu/BigMarioInHouse inShouldIbuythisgame

The only solution was to sell it and then purchase the disc model, but that would be a highly costly change of mind. That’s where PS5 Slim comes in to save the day. Still stuck on this decision, have no fear. Grab the PS5 Slim and change it to your desired model whenever you wish. Moreover, if you ever damage the drive, it can be easily replaced. So, what exactly are the features of the PS5 Slim? It seems Microsoft was spot on and it is indeed here. Let’s take a look at Sony’s newest model.

In terms of hardware specifications, the PS5 Slim is identical to the base model, so you won’t be seeing any performance difference. One thing I genuinely appreciate is the full 1 TB SSD. I always found the number 825 GB to be very odd, so it’s a welcome addition. Of course, you can still expand it externally. Similarly, as per the “Slim” tradition, the new model has a smaller and sleeker design, with a slight black touch.

Is 825GB enough space for you?
byu/Tee-dus_Not_Tie-dus inPS5

The PS5 Slim also comes in two models, The digital-only and the disc-one, but there’s a catch. The Blu-Ray drive is detachable and can be purchased separately. You can upgrade your digital model to a physical one anytime you wish, but as expected it’s not all smooth sailing. There is also a price hike. The disc edition costs the same, $499.99, but the digital is now $50 expensive and stands at $449.99, with the Blu-Ray separately costing $79.99.

PS5 Slim Might Become The Definitive Choice

Do you see where I’m coming from when I say it solves the dilemma? If you’re on a budget, you can purchase the digital edition and if you ever feel like going the disc route, the Blu-Ray drive can be bought anytime. I’m surprised Sony didn’t go with this in the first place, it feels like such a good idea. Yet, you might be wondering how I’m listing all these merits and still saying it “might” become the definite choice. Well, I have my reasons.

byu/oilfloatsinwater from discussion

First, the price hike goes against the purpose of a Slim console. Slim models provide a slightly cheaper alternative to the base version, and also the prospective price drop in the base version, yet this slim iteration raises the price instead. Although not as costly as re-purchasing the entire console, buying a disc drive later is also an expensive option. But there’s a slight relief in the possibility of getting a used product that can do the job much cheaper, so I think it was still a good idea.

Slim models are meant to be cheaper, not raise the price.
Slim models are meant to be cheaper, not raise the price.

Probably my most integral reason for a doubtful approach is how we don’t know its performance numbers. If we look at Sony’s history, it leans heavily toward Slim versions becoming more popular because they are less power-hungry and run cooler and quieter. If that is the case with PS5 Slim as well, I’m sure it will become a better choice coupled with the other benefits. On the contrary, if it doesn’t, the price hike cannot be justified as effectively.

In a nutshell, giving the players the freedom to switch models after purchase was a very effective decision on the part of Sony. PS5 Slim is already shaping up to be a better option than the base PS5 for those yet to get the console, and if it performs as expected of a Slim console, all the more reason to consider. I’m glad people can now approach the Physical vs Digital dilemma more easily than us.

PS5 Slim ($499.99 Disc, $449.99 Digital, $79.99 Blu-Ray) will be rolled out in November in select stores and official PlayStation stores.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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