Is the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition really cheaper?

The PS5 Digital Edition on a blue gradient background
(Image credit: Sony)

If you’re looking to save some money with your next console purchase, then you have probably wondered if the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition is cheaper than the disc alternative. After all, both systems are functionally identical, apart from the former’s lack of an optical Blu-ray drive. 

The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition now comes in at $399.99 / £389.99 / AU$649.95 / €449.99, which is considerably cheaper than the standard PS5 model that retails for $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$799.95 / €549.99. On the face of it, you’re saving 25% by forgoing physical games, but is the investment really cheaper in the long run? 

Either version of the console hasn’t gotten more affordable even two years after the system launched in both configurations. In fact, the PS5 has actually received a price hike this year, being more expensive than when it launched back in November 2020. With this in mind, there’s certainly validity in wanting to save some extra cash where you can. 

Most big-budget first-party PS5 games, such as the recently released God of War Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West, retail for $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$125 / €79.99. There’s no getting around that. You aren’t getting a discount on launch whether you opt for the digital copy or the physical disc. It’s a convenience factor at that point.

The divide becomes more apparent with the PS5 game deals that arise once a title has been on the market for a while. This is especially true when factoring in the Black Friday PS5 deals, where discounts on software are common. In order to gauge the kind of savings you can make, we must look at these deals and see whether that $100 / £90 / AU$150 / €100 goes far.  

PlayStation Store

(Image credit: Sony)

 Are games cheaper digitally or physically on PS5? 

While things are pretty even with emerging titles, game deals are where the real savings can be found. Comparing some offers available at retailers such as Amazon in contrast to the PlayStation Store reveals that things are more transparent here. We’re going by US prices for parity across the board. 

Should discounts happen around release, you’ll save money buying physical games rather than opting for digital versions. This can be seen with newer titles such as Sonic Frontiers, as the game is actually a whole $10 off for the physical game, as it’s selling for $49.89 at the world’s largest online retailer, but the full $59.99 at Sony’s PlayStation Store.

More often than not, when games are discounted through the PlayStation Store and more standard brick-and-mortar outlets, the latter is traditionally more competitive. This can be evidenced with WWE 2K22, which is on sale for $34.97 in the box and $39.99 via download. 

There are instances, though, where PS5 games at Sony’s storefront are cheaper than through traditional retailers. This is the case with Grand Theft Auto 5, which is available from Sony digitally for $19.79 and Amazon physically for $26.88. It’s similar to Pac-Man World Re-Pac, as the platformer is down to $19.49 through the PlayStation Store but still at its full $30 MSRP at traditional retailers. Games aren’t always cheaper on disc. 

In summary, it’s a fairly even mix where you may be more likely to see deals happening on physical games first. Still, once titles are discounted, the differences are ultimately minor. If you plan on downloading most of their library, an SSD for PS5 is an absolute must, as the internal storage will fill up quickly. 

PS5 Digital Edition Box

(Image credit: Sony)

 Are you saving money with the PS5 Digital Edition? 

The key difference between the PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition is that one is bound to the price set by Sony’s store, and the other isn’t. The PS5 Digital Edition ultimately ends up saving you a quarter of the asking price of investment. Where games are concerned, though, you’re not necessarily going to get new releases any cheaper by buying the disc or downloading the data. You don’t have the option for used games here either by getting rid of the disc drive. 

In most cases, any discounts that come to the PlayStation Store will be competitive with what other retailers can offer, especially if a game has been out for a while. That’s sure to ease the sting of missing out, but there will be times when a title could cost you more by comparison. 

It may not be this way forever, though. Recent PS5 Slim leaks have alleged that we could see the latest console with a removable/portable disk drive. The reported information claims that Sony could release a major hardware revision in 2023, which would allow players to do both. As to whether this will be released next year remains to be seen.   

Aleksha McLoughlin

Aleksha McLoughlin is an experienced hardware writer. She was previously the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming until September 2023. During this time, she looked after buying guides and wrote hardware reviews, news, and features. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of PC Gamer, Trusted Reviews, Dexerto, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.