The PS5 External Disc Drive is Alive

In September Tom Henderson broke the news that Sony have been testing an external disc drive for their PS5 console. Today he confirmed the device is in testing and “works flawlessly”.

The design of the PS5 is fucking weird.

Pope Hat

It baffles me that generally people have come to accept and even prefer the design of this thing. It’s obviously a very capable console, but the industrial design of the device is all over the place.

It’s huge, it has multiple stand configurations that attach in different ways, and in particular the disc drive was obviously not a primary consideration during the design of the machine itself.

The apparent development of an optional, external disc drive solidifies in my mind that the design of the PS5 was troubled, or rushed, or… something.

I think it’s fairly obvious at this point that the Digital Edition was supposed to be The Console, but Sony’s team reached an inflection point during design and production planning where they just couldn’t omit the disc drive (for what is likely to be a myriad of infrastructural reasons). And so, they just slapped the fucking thing on the side and slung a bulge over the top.

So. Very. Strange.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the release of this disc drive plays out. The Digital Edition will transition to becoming just The PS5 I suppose, with the peripheral there as an optional (or bundled) add-on.

But what will that mean for console pricing? The DE recently increased in price across most PlayStation markets – will that remain the new entry point? And how much will the disc drive itself cost?

And how happy are all the physical games retailers with massive floor space dedicated to PlayStation going to be when their game sales drop by some non-trivial amount? Especially considering in April, 2019, Sony confirmed they were completely removing all third party resales of PlayStation game codes, shutting down all competitive market pressure on digital PS5 games.

This in turn spurred a 2022 lawsuit from a consumer rights advocacy group in the UK who argue that “Sony dominates the digital distribution of PlayStation games and in-game content… It has deployed an anti-competitive strategy which has resulted in excessive prices to customers that are out of all proportion to the costs of Sony providing its services.”

Huh. Watch this space.