How do configurable game downloads work on PlayStation 5?

PS4 with SSDs
PS4 with SSDs (Image credit: Android Central)

Best answer: The technical aspects of configurable game downloads on PS5 is a bit of an unknown at the moment but we do know players will be able to pick and choose which aspects of a game they want to install. For example, they can install just the single-player campaign or just the multi-player portion.

What does configurable game downloading mean?

With the PlayStation 4, downloading a game is an all-or-nothing process. You either download the entire game or you don't since games are treated as large blocks of data. If you are lucky, you can install the single-player components first so you may play the campaign while the rest of the game downloads.

What configurable game downloads will do is break down these large blocks of data into sections you can install and delete separately. We don't yet know how small these segments will get but we should expect the ability to separate out single-player and multi-player at the very least. If you want to install just the single-player and then delete it before installing multi-player, that will be possible. Perhaps you would rather install everything and then delete just the single-player campaign when you have finished it. These are the types of choices that we will be able to make using configurable game downloading.

What is the management system like?

Along with the ability to configure downloads the PlayStation 5 will also get a new interface. We have no information or images on what the new revamped interface might look like, systems architect Mark Cerny revealed other details in an interview with Wired:

"Even though it will be fairly fast to boot games, we don't want the player to have to boot the game, see what's up, boot the game, see what's up, multi-player game servers will provide the console with the set of joinable activities in real time. Single-player games will provide information like what missions you could do and what rewards you might receive for completing them—and all of those choices will be visible in the UI. As a player you just jump right into whatever you like."

With details like that keeping players on top of events in a game, we expect ease of use won't be over looked for installation. After all, accessibility has continued to grow in importance for game companies over this past decade.

How is all of this possible?

Simply put, the solid-state drive (SSD). PlayStation is removing the standard hard drive from the PS5 and replacing it with an SSD. Using a hard drive for a game can require some information to be stored in duplicate upwards of 400 times for some games. This duplication is meant to speed up the response time of the hard drive but the SSD removes the need for that duping entirely. This means you'll be seeing much faster response times and a lot less loading.

Installation of games will be required as the PS5 will no longer be reading from disks because of the increased speed of the SSD. This means PlayStation 5 games will now come on 100GB optical disks and installed via the optical drive that works double duty as your Blu-ray player. 

Kelly Peirce