It was considered a bold step when Sony decided to reveal the new versions of its PlayStation consoles on the same day as Apple launched its new iPhones. The PlayStation 4 Pro at first glance seemed like a powerhouse of a console. However, just like the new iPhone 7 no longer has an audio jack, the PlayStation 4 Pro no longer has a built-in Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. This has sparked a huge debate among gaming enthusiasts as to why Sony has decided to take a step back in its latest consoles and whether the PlayStation 4 even needs a Blu-ray drive.
Firstly we will see as to why the PlayStation 4 Pro no longer has a Blu-ray drive. The PlayStation president Andrew House while speaking to The Guardian stated that the desire to drop the Blu-ray drive was fulfilled in order to focus on the increasing demand for video streaming content.
“Our feeling is that while physical media continues to be a big part of the games business, we see a trend on video towards streaming,” he said. “Certainly with our user base, it’s the second biggest use case for people’s time on the system so we place more emphasis on that area.”
Those who purchased a PS4 Pro have options like Netflix and YouTube apps which stream 4k/HDR content. At a PlayStation meeting, House called out Netflix’s Narcos and Luke Cage in his speech as being two Netflix programs that will support the Ultra-HD format. Even though at launch there were no 4k TV shows or movies available in the PlayStation Store, Sony expects other services and providers will offer 4K video content in the future.
Now we will discuss as to whether the PlayStation 4 Pro even needs a Blu-ray drive. Even though it is amazing for AV enthusiasts, it is comparatively less convenient when it comes to watching 4K content especially with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. One would have to separately buy a Blu-ray disc rather than simply streaming the content at home. Also having a 4K Blu-ray would have increased the price of the console further as it is already a premium product. Therefore in the long run it might not matter a huge amount.
On the other hand, by not having the Blu-ray drive it instantly makes its direct competitor the Xbox One S from Microsoft a better gaming console as that supports 4K playback for both streaming and disc-based media. Consequently, even though the PS4 Pro is more powerful, on paper it does nothing new and gives little reason to upgrade. In addition even though many people use Netflix and Amazon, those services don’t have a lot of 4K and HDR content at the moment and most of the people don’t have internet with a strong enough bandwidth to stream 4K content without buffering. Finally, over the years Sony PlayStations have pushed the boundaries of media, the PS2 had DVD, the PS3 had Blu-ray and this is a step backwards.
In the end it all depends on the user whether not having a Blu-ray disc drive is a deal breaker or not. It won’t matter a great deal for those who prefer streaming, however, those who do not might be inclined shifting to the Xbox One S or wait Microsoft’s Project Scorpio which is expected to be released later this year. It is supposed to be the most powerful current generation console and it does have an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive.