How Many Games Can You Install on PS4?

A new generation of consoles means a new generation of games, but hard drive space does not appear to be scaling in proportion to install sizes. With a single game topping 50 GB for PS4 titles, you may be able to access only about 10 games at a time, even if you buy discs instead of digital downloads.

Box art has begun to surface for PS4 titles, and along with box art comes system specs. "Call of Duty: Ghosts," "Killzone Shadow Fall" and "Knack" have their system requirements listed on the back, and each one will take up a fairly hefty chunk of hard drive space.

"Knack," a kid-oriented action/adventure game, will take 37 GB to install. Sci-fi first-person shooter "Killzone Shadow Fall" weighs in at 39.7 GB. "Call of Duty: Ghosts," the near-future military FPS, takes the cake at 50 GB.

MORE: 10 PS3 Games to Play Right Now

The PS4 will ship with a 500 GB hard drive. Allowing for miscellaneous content like DLC packs, patches and downloaded movies or TV shows, and assuming that these games are representative of future PS4 titles, this means that you'll be able to house somewhere between 10 and 12 games on your system at any given time.

While these three games may just be outliers in terms of size, they are fairly representative of what the PS4 will offer: a wide selection of graphically intensive titles from both internal and third-party developers. No doubt, many games will take up less space, but as PS4 games evolve, some may well take up more.

Even if you prefer to buy physical discs rather than download your games, the specs on the back of the boxes suggest that you'll have to perform full installs in order to play. If you download games, expect to set aside some time to download 50 GB of content before installing it.

PS4 fans need not despair; they have a few options to deal with the relative dearth of space. First, 10 games may not sound like a lot, especially if you're used to having a library of dozens of discs to pop in on a whim. However, few gamers play 10 titles simultaneously, let alone more than that. Simply deleting old games to make room for new ones could be a solution.

This approach has its share of problems, however. Taking a game out of a disc tray when you're done is one thing; uninstalling can be a bit of a process. On current-gen systems, uninstalling a game does not remove other content associated with the game, like save files or DLC. If you have to remove these items manually, then uninstalling a game becomes cumbersome; if they get removed automatically, then you'll need to re-download them along with the game if you decide to play it again.

Furthermore, if you decide you're not quite as done with a game as you thought, reinstalling it is time-consuming, and re-downloading it will eat a lot of bandwidth. This could be problematic if your monthly Internet has data caps.

The simpler answer might be to install a new hard drive. Although the system has a 500 GB model built-in, the PS4 allows users to swap it out for just about any standard 2.5-inch hard drive. This means you can swap hard drives in and out, or simply buy a very large one — a 1.5 TB drive, for example, will hold about 30 full-size games, to say nothing of smaller indie titles.

Sony has confirmed that users will be able to remove and install hard drives using only their hands and a Phillips-head screwdriver, but has not mentioned whether or not this will void the warranty. In the meantime, think very carefully about what you want your first 10 PS4 games to be.

Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorofand on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.