We’re rapidly approaching the reveal season for the next generation of video game consoles. Sony and Microsoft have been teasing their respective consoles for a while now. We already know that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett will be more or less similar when it comes to hardware design.
Sony has already revealed a bunch of specs and features of its next generation console. For example, the PS5 will use a custom AMD Zen 2 based processor along with an AMD Navi GPU. This will allow the console to be on-par with modern gaming PCs in terms of performance. In addition to that, the PlayStation 5 will also be fully capable of pulling off hardware-based real-time raytracing, which is the new big thing these days.
According to Microsoft and Sony though, the biggest game changer for the next generation of consoles will be the switch to SSDs from conventional hard drives. This will massively help with reduce loading times in games. However, it seems like Sony has other storage plans for the PS5 as well.
Sony patents the PlayStation Cartridge
Sony has filed a patent for what is a custom-made external cartridge called the PlayStation Cartridge. The device is dubbed as a ‘storage device’ and resembles a typical game cartridge. The patent was uncovered by LetsGoDigital and was published by the INPI in Brazil on November 5, 2019.
According to the patent, the PlayStation Cartridge has been invented by Sony’s senior art designer, Yujin Morisawa. The patent was filed by the same body that filed the patent for the PlayStation 5 dev kit.
Initially, it was presumed that the PlayStation Cartridge is alluding to another handheld console in the works at Sony, because of their resemblance to PS Vita game cards and the PSP UMDs. However, it looks like the PlayStation Cartridge could be an accessory for the upcoming PlayStation 5 instead.
Why does the PS5 need an external cartridge?
Sony has already revealed that the PlayStation 5 will have a built-in SSD for game storage. So, why does the PS5 even need an external cartridge? Well. while it is true that the SSD will improve loading times and enable higher data transfer rates, the problem does not lie there.
The real problem with having an internal SSD is with the storage limit. While SSDs are getting mainstream, they are still relatively expensive. In addition to that, modern AAA games are getting bigger in size as well. These days, it is not unusual to have games that are easily over the 100 GB mark. So, even if Sony cramped 1 TB SSDs into the PS5, that would still not be enough for most people.
How will the PlayStation Cartridge affect the PS5?
Currently, you can replace your PlayStation 4 hard drive with any SSD or use an external one as well. However, that might not be the case anymore with the PlayStation 5. The PlayStation Cartridge could very well be a custom-made external SSD for the PS5. So, in theory, Sony could enforce the use of its own external SSDs rather than third-party ones.
If Sony prevents users from using third-party storage options for the PS5, it would potentially be hitting itself in the foot. However, the choice could also be a cost-cutting measure.
Why? Well, because having first-party external storage could allow Sony to have PS5 models with lower internal storage. While those lower internal storage models will be cheaper, it will be a win-win situation for Sony as they’d get the sales advantage for having a cheaper console while also selling first-party SSDs to those who need additional storage.
The initial launch cost for a console is extremely important. Each generation, the console with the higher price has had lower sales numbers. So, while having a powerful console with good specifications is important, sales data reveals that the launch price is also incredibly crucial to how the console performs in the market.
However, Sony is in a transitional phase right now because of changes in top-level management. The company has been backtracking on its stances and the PlayStation Cartridge could very well end up being a storage device for an upcoming handheld console. In any case, it would be very interesting to see how all of this pans out for Sony.