PC gamers have enjoyed solid state drive technology for a while now and come this November, console gamers finally are brought up to speed! Both the Xbox Series X/S and the PlayStation 5 will have blazing fast solid state drives which will greatly increase loading times, but this technology will come at a cost. For Xbox, a 1TB proprietary Seagate expansion storage card will set you back $219.99 while a Western Digital 1TB NVMe drive that is compatible with the PlayStation 5 will set you back $229.99. On the other hand, a decent 1TB Western Digital mechanical hard drive will only set you back $50. With the price of these SSDs being so high, one has to wonder if the features that this technology brings is worth the price and if SSD technology is ready for the console space.
Adoption Decreases Price
When Sony unveiled the PlayStation 3, the high end model was $600. One of the reasons why it was so expensive was that Blu-Ray technology was new at the time and was very expensive to produce. Sony’s strategy was to get this technology into consumer’s hands by including it in their Trojan Horse of a console. The more of this technology that they were able to produce for consumers, the cheaper it would get, and for the most part it worked. It did cause them to fall behind in sales compared to the Xbox 360 at first, but they eventually caught up, and Blu-Ray drives are relatively inexpensive to produce now. This leads to greater profit margins for Sony because they don’t have to spend as much to produce them. SSDs are in this generation’s Trojan Horses.
Features like Quick Resume are only possible thanks to SSD technology.
It is of note that the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation Vita had proprietary memory cards that Sony were trying to push at the time. Even the original PlayStation 3s were compatible with them. Unlike Blu-Ray, these never caught on outside of Sony products and they never really dropped in price at retail. In fact, PlayStation Vita memory cards are still really expensive. A 64 GB card will set you back $130. Using a system as a Trojan Horse for a new technology is always a gamble. At least this time both Microsoft and Sony are on equal footing.
Right Feature, Wrong Time?
It’s no secret that many people are struggling financially right now. Buying a new console, let alone additional memory at nearly half the cost of said console, is just not in the realm of possibility for many. Even if this weren’t the case, SSD technology is still way more expensive than mechanical hard drives and the SSDs included in the new systems just aren’t enough to hold more than a dozen or so games if you’re lucky. It’s not a matter of if, but when you will need to buy more storage, and then it’s RIP: your wallet.
Thankfully, it looks like you can still store data on external hard drives and transfer that data, and both the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 will let you selectively uninstall parts of games. PC gamers have had this problem for years now and many seem to take a hybrid approach and store most of their games on a mechanical hard drive and keep their most used games on the SSD for faster loading. There will be options and perhaps cloud storage will eventually be one of them.
But Are They Worth It?
Taking into consideration that the price of SSD technology will not stay astronomically high forever, it’s honestly about time that home consoles are getting them. Honestly, this upcoming console generation would have been pretty weak had both companies not gone with SSDs and I get that these new consoles need them in order to deliver the experiences that are only possible with them. I do wish that having to use the SSDs could be a choice like it is on PC, but games like Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart and The Medium just wouldn’t be possible without every console that they’re on having an SSD. New features like Quick Resume wouldn’t be possible either. It may be worth suffering through the high prices now for a better gaming future.