Sony’s £450 PlayStation 5 sold out fast when pre-orders opened last week. But pre-orders for the £360 PlayStation 5 Digital Edition? Those seemed to go even faster.
There was huge demand for the cheaper Digital Edition, but also reports there was far less Digital Edition stock to go around. Now, retail sources Eurogamer has spoken to have said this was accurate.
A source at one major UK retailer said their company’s stock allocation had been around 25 per cent Digital Edition versus 75 per cent regular PS5, though this might vary slightly from store to store.
Other sources claimed the ratio was even higher, with ratios around 20 per cent Digital Edition to 80 per cent regular PS5 suggested.
Over the weekend, Ars Technica polled GameStop stores in the US and found a similar situation over the pond. Stock allocation for nine GameStop outlets across the country ranged from as low as 13 per cent Digital Edition up to 33 per cent, with an overall average of 25 per cent Digital Edition stock altogether.
PlayStation has never cautioned customers that the Digital Edition might be harder to get hold of. It is simply presented as one of two equal PlayStation 5 options – and cheaper because it does not contain a disc drive.
The lure of a Digital Edition is clear: a saving of nearly £100 for a version without a disc drive, while not sacrificing any of the core PS5’s power. (Though some have pointed out this markdown will likely be made up over time by the cost of buying digital software at full whack – up to £70 per game.)
When questioned on the Digital Edition stock situation, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan refused to disclose the ratio of Digital Edition stock being made available.
“The ratio between the Digital Edition and the disc drive model is currently something we cannot disclose at this time,” Ryan told AV Watch (as translated by VGC). “We cannot give specific information on numbers, but we can say that we plan to produce the necessary number of units to meet the demand for that model type.
“However, we’ve never produced two different console models at the same time before so deciding on the right number and the right ratio is very hard to know. We are doing our best to predict demand.”
While the claim PlayStation has not produced two different units at the same time before is likely to raise eyebrows, this is indeed the first time PlayStation has launched an all-digital console alongside a standard model.
Exactly what ratio should the Digital Edition be? Ahead of launch, with demand uncertain, there can be no perfect answer.
But keeping the ratio of Digital Editions low means some customers who wanted a Digital Edition may end up settling for the more expensive £450 version as a result. Better that than miss out on a PS5 at launch altogether!
It also means that, were Sony selling the PS5 for a loss (as many consoles are at launch), the loss attributed to the lower-priced Digital Edition would be cushioned by lower stock – while still being able to advertise its availability and competitive £360 price point.
Eurogamer has contacted PlayStation for comment.
Over the weekend, PlayStation apologised for the way it had made PS5 pre-orders available with little to no warning. “Let’s be honest: PS5 pre-orders could have been a lot smoother,” Sony said. “We truly apologise for that. Over the next few days, we will release more PS5 consoles for pre-order – retailers will share more details. And more PS5s will be available through the end of the year.”