PS5 Digital Edition or Xbox Series S? Sony says only its console is future-proof

(Image credit: Sony)

The next-generation console prices are now public, and we know that while the top-end PS5 and Xbox Series X will both cost $500, the two companies have different philosophies towards cheaper offerings. Microsoft has the $300 Xbox Series S, which offers lower specs for HD/2K gaming, while Sony is offering the same PS5 without a disk drive for $400.

But was Sony ever considering a Series S-style PS5 for gamers without 4K sets? Apparently, they were, according to PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan.

“The first thing I want to say is that we respect the judgment and philosophy of all competitors,” he told Japanese site AV Watch (translated via Microsoft Edge). 

“Obviously ‘price’ is one of the important factors. We respect our competitive strategy with other companies. 

“One thing I can say is that introducing a low-spec console for a particular price range doesn't produce very happy results when you look at the history of the industry. We've thought about it, too. I also know that other operators have tried and had problems.”

It’s not really clear what consoles Ryan is referring to here, as nobody has tried what Microsoft is attempting in the console space before. Yes, there was the Wii Mini which dropped internet access, SD card support and backwards compatibility for a lower price tag, but that’s not an exact match for the Xbox Series S. Nor are Sony’s own PSP E-1000 or PSP Go handhelds. Perhaps he’s referring to projects that never ultimately saw the light of day?

Whatever his reasoning, Ryan is adamant that Sony has made the right call in opting for a PS5 Digital Edition instead of a lower-spec model. “What we have researched shows that when people buy a game console, they want to keep using it for four, five, six, seven years,” he continued. “We want to make sure that what we buy is safe in the future. I'm not looking for something that will become corny in a year or three.”

By that metric, Sony certainly has the upper hand in the PS5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S battle. While the former boosts the same ten teraflops of power as the $500 PS5, the Xbox Series S has four – a big reduction from the Series X’s 12. It also has more storage, with a 825GB SSD compared to the Series S’s 512GB, which is important given neither have a disk drive, so all games have to be digital.

But there’s a sting in the tail there. While going disk free leaves PS5 buyers at the mercy of Sony’s digital game pricing, Xbox Series S owners can rest safe in the knowledge that all of Microsoft’s first-party titles will be included in the company’s Game Pass subscription service. 

Pre-orders for the PS5 have already opened and very quickly closed, though Sony says more will be on the way soon. Anyone keen for an Xbox Series X or S will get a chance to pre-order from 8 a.m. PT.11 a.m. ET on September 22.  

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.