I tend to buy the majority of my games digitally on PS5, simply because I’m too lazy to get up from my couch and switch discs. Yes, I know they are often more expensive, but the convenience that digital games provide tends to justify the extra cost to me.
However, when it comes to PS4 to PS5 upgrades, there were some real bargains to be had if you chose the physical versions. For this reason, I chose to buy physical copies of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Death Stranding, buy the games for much less than their digital equivalents, and upgrade to the PS5 version at no extra cost (or cheeky fee £10 in the case of Death Stranding).
Unfortunately, the way the PlayStation 5 handles PS4 discs that are upgraded to the next-gen version is just irritating – so much so that it’s stopping me from buying more physical games.
So what is the problem exactly? Well, when you insert a PS4 disc into your console, you can choose to install it or upgrade it to the PS5 version. It’s a slightly tedious process, especially compared to how Smart Delivery on Xbox Series X|S will automatically install the best version of the game available, but at least it’s easier to figure out which console version you’re actually installing.
Once that’s done and your fancy new PS5 build is ready to play, you’d like to think you could remove the PS4 icon from the home screen because obviously it’s now obsolete. But unfortunately this is not the case.
Every time I boot up my PS5, I’m presented with PS4 versions of my games, often before their brilliant PS5 upgrades. Not only does this clutter up the home screen, but it’s surprisingly easy to click on the wrong version and accidentally start the PS4 version installation process.
Worse still, some games don’t offer unique icons for their PS4 and PS5 versions, meaning you rely on the little “PS4” or “PS5” tag to distinguish which version you should actually click on, which is not ideal.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent the PS4 icons from appearing at this time, as they will appear whenever the PS5 plays a disc in the drive. Speaking of which, I really wish the disc drive didn’t spin as often as it does – if I’m not playing that particular game, the console shouldn’t need to constantly check if I have the license digital or not.
It doesn’t have to be that way
While the PS4 icon ultimately serves to show that there’s a disc in the console, you’d like to think that Sony might find a more elegant way to overcome this problem. This is clearly possible, as the same situation does not occur on Xbox Series X. If you insert an Xbox One game optimized for Xbox Series X, you will only see one icon, not two versions to choose from. Put the same game in an Xbox One, and you’ll only receive the version that can be played on that hardware: the Xbox One version. Simple.
Strangely, this icon issue wasn’t much of an issue when the PS5 launched. Sony’s console previously displayed an icon for both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game, and you could select which one you wanted to launch. However, there were countless stories of people playing or installing the wrong version of the game, thinking it was the PS5 version. This led Sony to separate the two, creating a solution, as well as the problem we have now.
It might seem trivial, then, but the way the PS5 handles upgraded PS4 discs has me wondering whether to buy a physical copy. I’d rather not have to deal with this annoying issue, and knowing that it doesn’t happen with digital copies, because you can just delete the PS4 version once the PS5 version is installed, is another reason to avoid buy records for now, at least.