Sony Interactive Entertainment was actually considering a PlayStation 5 console with lower hardware specifications like Xbox Series S. However, the idea was soon dropped in favor of the PS5 Digital Edition because Sony feared a cheaper and trimmed-down console would not survive in the long run.
Speaking with AV Watch in a recent interview, Sony CEO Jim Ryan stated that introducing PS5 Digital Edition with the same hardware—minus the optical disc drive—as the flagship next-generation console was a decisive move. He noted that research conducted by Sony (via VGC) showed how “special low priced, reduced spec” consoles have “not had great results in the past.” Hence, the option for an Xbox Series S-like alternative was considered but eventually scrapped because it could have proven to be “problematic.”
Ryan explained that people buy game consoles to be future-proofed. That they can continue playing new games for seven years at least, and not be concerned about their game consoles getting outdated within the first couple of years. “They want to have faith that if they end up buying a new TV that their current console will be able to support that new 4K TV they are considering on buying,” he pointed out in the case of the PS5 Digital Edition which sports the same computing strengths of the standard PlayStation 5 model.
He added: “Based on our research, it’s clear that people who buy a game console want to continue using it for four, five, six or even seven years. They want to believe they have bought something that is future-proofed and not going to be outdated in two-to-three years.
Sony and Microsoft will both be launching two next-generation consoles each this holiday season. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have been priced at the same $500 mark. PS5 Digital Edition though comes at $400, a bit steeper than the all-digital Xbox Series S due to lower specifications that target 1440p instead of native 4K.