PS5 has a key advantage over the Xbox Series X — what you need to know

ps5 xbox series x
(Image credit: Microsoft/Sony)

It’s no secret that the PS5 has a lot less storage than the Xbox Series X, and currently there are no options to expand it in any way. Fortunately, the PS5 does have one advantage: how it handles the storage for backwards compatible games. 

PS5 games can only be played on the console’s internal SSD, though PS4 games can run from an external hard drive. Even if they have had PS5-centric upgrades.

Take Ghosts of Tsushima, for instance. The game was a smash hit when it arrived last year, and got a PS5 upgrade after the release of the next-gen console. Unfortunately the game is 50GB, and while not as large as some PS4 games (Like the 150GB Modern Warfare) that would still be a big chunk of storage to sacrifice.

Thankfully this loophole means you don’t need to use up any of the 667GB of free space your PS4 has. You just need a regular external hard drive or SSD, and the game can still be run in its PS5-enhanced form. So the game would have better graphics, better frame rate, and all the other benefits of being played on a PS5, but it still technically classified as a PS4 game.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case on Xbox Series X. Once a game is optimized for the new console, the console classifies it as a Series X title. In other words it has to be played on the console’s internal SSD or official expansion drives. Trying to run it from any other external drive won’t work. TechRadar points out that there are some exceptions, like Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, but for the most part it’s internal or nothing.

This loophole likely exists due to the different ways both consoles handle backwards compatibility. Rocket League developer Psyonix revealed that an Xbox One game can be upgraded to a full Xbox Series X title by applying a software update. Unfortunately, upgrading a PS4 game to a PS5 copy requires a full port of the game. So no matter how many times you update a PS4 game, it’ll only ever be a PS4 game.

Considering how few games there are on next-gen consoles right now, a lot of PS5 owners will be playing older games to pass the time. So for the time being it seems as though the PS5 has an edge over the Xbox Series X. Or at least it will until we start seeing more native PS5 games get released.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.