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PS5 Digital Edition exists because "many consumers purchase solely digitally"

PlayStation boss says no news on price but platform holder is focused on "getting the value equation right"

Sony Interactive Entertainment's president and CEO Jim Ryan has explained why a digital-only edition of the PlayStation 5 will be available alongside a standard disc-based one.

The surprise reveal came at the end of last night's showcase, in which the platform holder showed off 26 upcoming PS5 games, including sequels to Marvel's Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn.

Speaking to the BBC, Ryan said: "Many of our consumers are purchasing solely digitally these days. We thought that we would do what we typically try and do, and just offer choice."

When Microsoft released its own all-digital edition for the Xbox One S, it had a noticeably lower price tag than the standard model.

Asked whether this will be the case with PS5, Ryan said: "You're not going to hear anything on price today."

Reports have suggested the console could cost $450 per unit to produce, so the price point for consumers is likely to be higher. As recently as yesterday, an analyst suggested both PS5 and Xbox Series X could retail for as much as $500, although rumours of $600 for Sony's console have also been circulating.

Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and concerns about an upcoming recession, the BBC asked Ryan whether 2020 is a good time to be releasing a new console.

"Conventional wisdom and history show that our business is one of the more recession-proof businesses," he said. "But I think this will sharpen our need to ensure that we focus on getting the value equation right. And I emphasise value as opposed to price."

He also emphasised that none of the content shown in the presentation was changed as a result of the ongoing protests against racial injustice in the US and the subsequent delay to the PS5 reveal.

Finally, Ryan commented on the design which, as with all new console reveals, has proven to be divisive and ripe for internet memes.

The PlayStation boss said that, since the company's consoles are often found in the living area of most homes, "we kind of felt it would be nice to provide a design that would really grace most living areas."

No release date was given last night, but when we spoke to Ryan last month, he assured us that PS5 will be on shelves this Christmas.

We'll be releasing a special edition of The Podcast collecting our thoughts on last night's reveals later today.

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Latest comments (4)

Adam Krause Artist A year ago
PSN downloads are UNBEARABLY SLOW.
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer A year ago
Forsooth. I've been getting ten to fifteen minute downloads on Steam and EGS. But PSN? Hours upon end. The "Rest Mode" helps when I know there's going to be a big block of data coming down, but even smaller stuff just seems to take forever. It's almost like there's a geometric increase in download times the bigger the files get. A couple megs, a minute or less. A couple gigs, couple of hours. 10GB or more, Rest Mode, I'll play in the morning.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, AzoomeeA year ago
I know quite a lot of people now who only buy digital on PS4. I'm pretty sure there's strong data backing up this decision, but it will be interesting to compare sales.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
Sony FAQ:

What did Sony do when they had the chance?
Take a cheap shot, showing how to hand over a disc.

Why is there no system to trade digital licenses user to user?
Because every penny must be pinched

Why are there incomplete games, DLCs, season passes and loot boxes?
Because every penny must be pinched. But you may want to take note here that Sony is not doing most of this, opting to build their brand instead.

Why do I pay Sony on top of my ISP for the privilege to interact online?
Because every penny must be pinched

Why are PS downloads so slow?
Because every penny must be pinched

Why are game prices what they are?
Because every penny must be pinched

Why are there sales of games at a discount?
Because every penny must be pinched

Why do you pay licensing fees to Sony before you start development and then licensing fees for every sale?
I bet you can guess the pattern by now.

In sense, Sony is like that one issue politician. He differs notably when it comes to one hot topic, while allowing other members of his party to burn their fingers with it /That would be Ubisoft, EA, Activision, Take2 and others getting the bad reputation on Youtube for lootboxes). When it comes to the rest, there is a simple pattern of behavior which can be abstracted across everything Sony does, offering an explanation that passes Occam's Razor every time.

Sony's strategy is by no means wrong, but when MIcrosoft got pushback for Xbox Live prices, you may remember Sony's stance back then on the PS3, i.e. PSN being free. As this practice got accepted, Sony changed its stance to default back to the base explanation for everything.

Sony's biggest asset still is having two competitors who have disruptive powers served to them on a silver tablet, refusing to use them. Why? I guess you can come up with that answer on your own by now, my lemon friends.
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