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The PS5’s hottest new feature might have a huge downside

Published Nov 18th, 2019 10:58AM EST

We learned recently that Sony is looking to have as many PS4 owners as possible upgrade to the new PlayStation5  when it launches next year, and the PS5’s price will probably be the critical factor that will either drive up upgrades or hinder adoption. Sony already said the console might be more affordable than expected, without providing any firm prices, and Microsoft announced the Xbox Scarlett will also be very competitive when it comes to performance and price. A recent PS5 leak revealed a clever innovation that might keep the PS5’s price down, but this new feature that people can’t stop talking about will also apparently come with a big catch.

A Sony patent uncovered recently showed us a device that looked a lot like some sort of modern video game cartridge. In the days that followed, speculation around the unknown device intensified, with some thinking the storage cartridge is actually an SSD enclosure. This is now viewed as the most likely explanation.

The purpose of a modular SSD solution for the PS5 might be twofold. First of all, it would let Sony launch an affordable entry-level version of the PS5 that will still ship with very fast SSD storage, albeit a small amount of storage. Second, it will let gamers easily upgrade the SSD whenever they choose, without having to worry too much about tearing apart the console, figuring out the right kind of drive that would fit the PS5, or acquiring the best SSD when it comes to performance.

Image source: LetsGoDigital

Sony would also make life easy for itself when it comes to servicing the PS5. However, by controlling the PS5 SSD supply, Sony would also be able to charge more for storage upgrades. We’ve seen this sort of thing happen before. It’s what Apple does with flash upgrades on the iPhone and with SSDs in MacBooks. Similarly, Microsoft’s latest Surface devices might feature user-replaceable SSDs, but Microsoft would still want its own professionals to handle the SSD upgrades — and like Apple, Surface storage upgrades are still costly on Microsoft’s site.

By making the PS5 as affordable as possible, Sony will probably lose money on sales initially, but SSD upgrades might help its bottom line. This is all just speculation at this point, based on a Sony innovation that might not even become a commercial product. And you should still remember that Sony is already looking at preventing storage issues on the PS5 by allowing players to only install the game content they want to play.

The PS5 is expected to be unveiled in February during a special Sony PlayStation event, according to reports.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.