How Mandatory Game Installations Will Work On PS4

How Mandatory Game Installations Will Work On PS4

Call it installation or call it caching, but the bottom line is that you will have to save large chunks of PlayStation 4 games to the system's hard drive. It's not an option. It's mandatory on Sony's next-gen system. Today, at a stylish waterfront hotel in New York City that's been taken over by Sony for all things PS4, the system's lead architect, Mark Cerny, explained just how these requirements work.

If you are playing a disc-based game, the system will begin caching the disc when you put it in the console and get ready to play. The game is saving part of itself to the system's hard drive. The amount of data that has to be saved before you can start will vary per title.

Cerny said that for the launch game he directed, Knack, users should only have to wait tens of seconds to play the game. After that, as you play, the game will stream more content to the console's 500GB hard drive. Knack will use 37GB of space overall, as noted on the game's box. Obviously, it won't take many games to fill the console's hard drive.

Cached/installed game data will stay on the hard drive until the user deletes it. Cerny said that there had been some internal discussions at Sony about having the PS4 auto-delete installed data from games that players hadn't used in a while. They decided against it, figuring that gamers would never want to feel "blindsided" and would prefer to make their data management decisions manually. Probably a good choice!

The disc installation is required on PS4 because the console is not designed to read games off of discs. It's not a PlayStation issue. It's a physics issue. The machine may have a Blu-Ray drive that's about three times faster than the PS3 with about six times as much memory, but it's still more expedient for it to read data from its own hard drive. Cerny said his team had heard too many complaints from current-gen developers about having to wait to load in new levels of games. Putting the data on the readily-accessible hard drive alleviates that.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft's Xbox One requires installation from Blu-Ray, too, and only runs games off the hard drive.

If a PS4 user decides to download a game, they will have to wait longer to play. Cerny couldn't provide as narrow an estimate on how long a player who decided to download Knack would have to wait. That depends in large part on a user's Internet connection speed. Ideally, he said, they wouldn't have to wait more than an hour before beginning to play the partially downloaded games.

Other games may be set up differently, allowing users to start playing them sooner or requiring them to wait longer. With these kinds of download speeds and requirements, players may want to queue their PS4 downloads long before they want to start gaming or download in the background while doing something else. Or just drive to the store and get a disc.


    So it's the same as it was on the PS3?

      No, with the PS4 after a game has started to install you can start playing it while it's still installing. I'm assuming it would install the opening levels first and then carry on installing in the background while you're playing in comparison to something like GT5 where you're sitting watching the install screen for 25-30 minutes as the PS3 has to install the entire game before you can play it

        Similar to how a lot of MMOs have download while you play features. The majority of vital game resources don't take that much space, it's just the high detail models and textures that really do it.

          It'll be interesting to see how that pans out, if the PS4 games end up encountering some of the same unexpected bugs and errors that the MMOs who try that end up with.

          Even industry giant WoW can't seem to get that one completely right - in the latest expansion, Mists, a mate of mine completely missed several very major and obvious quest chains and events because they simply weren't there for him to get to, while we were playing. I didn't have the same problem, but I'd pre-cached already and had huge-cool-superinternet, and he was on ultra-limited, playing while it was in the orange. Could've been something else, but pretty sure it was caching.

            That's a strange thing for it to not load. I'd always assumed that was server side. Still you're right, there's problems and games end up looking awful when you do it. Being on a much less open system will probably make things easier, but I'll still be fully loading games before playing.

            I wonder if you could abuse it to insert transparent textures for walls and all that old school PC hacking crap. I guess that'd be a pretty big concern for Microsoft and Sony since they're really opening the guts up on the console.

      Yep, what's worse is that if you want to download any games of Psn none of their files are hosted locally, whereas Microsoft have Australian Servers and ISPs like iinet offer free quota, the true value of owning a Sony is really only good for USA/JPN and some places in EU... 37gb for knack wtf that game looks woefull how can it take up more data than say FIFA14

      What I was about to say.

      Although granted, some PS3 games don't require any installation, and those that do generally don't take up a huge chunk of space. I've got an older model 80GB PS3 and a large library of games (around 35) and I'm not even close to filling it.

      This sounds like every PS4 game is going to have a mandatory installation, and it doesn't sound like it's going to be an insignificant amount of space they will be using, either. If every game's install is around the size Knack at 37GB, you'll fill the 500GB hard drive with about 14 games (and that doesn't take into account other stuff you might have on there like music and movies).

      Last edited 12/11/13 10:44 am

        Call of Duty Ghosts has a 49 GB install so it could be even less than 14. Mix that with the inability to plug in external hard drives and it becomes a problem for avid gamers. I don't want to sound like an Xbox fan boy but it seems like the PS4 is beginning to sound worse than the Xbox One the closer it gets to launch. What next gen console can't play music unless you buy it directly from sony?

        Last edited 12/11/13 10:52 am

          Yeah - but your not going to want install your games to an external HDD. There's a reason you don't do it on PC - its slow as hell!

            AFAIK USB3 should be plenty fast enough to cope with the read/write speeds of any SATA 3 mechanical drive... So how will it be any significant amount slower?
            Last gen with USB2 I can understand but that shouldn't be an issue at all now.

            sorry to disagree with you.
            but an internal 5400 rpm drive will likely have a read speed somewhere between 50-150MBps
            the sata 2 spec (as used in both xbox and ps4) provides 300MBps but no mechanical drives will be that fast.

            moving to USB 3 however and you will see that it has a 5Gbps bandwidth or 625MBps
            this is obviously much faster than what the hard drive can do.
            so as long as you dont get a really crap external HDD you should not see any performance degradation vs an internal drive.
            i personally will get a powered 2TB usb 3 7200rpm drive for my xbox one
            and wish that i could do the same for my PS4

          but the xbox one does exactly the same thing as far as requiring installs and you can't upgrade the hdd.

            but you can use an external HDD after launch

              Good luck playing off an external harddrive

                I currently play games on a USB stick on 360 and its fine, I imagine a USB 3.0 HDD will be even better, but thanks for the luck, you too.

                Last edited 12/11/13 12:25 pm

                  I'm sure it does, I tried it out with my 360, but found it troublesome, Which is why I prefer the faster internal HDD rather than sticking USB's

                I think I would prefer having the flexibility of an external setup than having to purchase specific drives for the PlayStation (re: 2.5" 9mm drives).

                I'm looking at specific 1TB/2TB/SSD drives for the PS4 vs. attaching a raid array of whatever drives I like to the Xbox.

                Last edited 12/11/13 12:41 pm

        I have a PS3, 120Gb Slim and HDD space is constantly an issue, I truly wish I'd upgraded the drive when I first bought it. I find the below are the primary space invaders:
        - Digital games from the PSN store
        - Several game installs including the 10g monster GT5
        - Play TV which uses space when it records.

        Replacing the hard drive will be easy as it was with PS3. I just received my 1TB hybrid drive that I will wait a month to install.
        I have a 750GB drive in my PS3, and only 124GB left, 99% is games. Admittedly, I could delete most of those and not care as they don’t get touched.
        PS4 will require larger and larger installs, upgrading the HDD is easy and will be commonly done.
        Trying to run a game from external drive is just plain lunacy, is the X1 going to allow this? It seems to struggle enough as it is.

        With wake to download available, it will be nothing to start digital downloads while away, and something I do already with PS3 and PS+.
        Many times I have set new PS+ games to download and then gotten home and they all ready to go.

      Sort of. The way the PS3 worked was it installed parts of the game to the HDD to improve load times, but it still read the majority of the data off the disc; as far as I can tell with the PS4 (and X1), it's saying the entire game will be installed and the disc will basically just be there as a sort of DRM to make sure you still own the game.

        BOOM Thanks @furious at pointing at my mistake

        Last edited 12/11/13 11:53 am

          The Disk is DRM. Literally meaning Digital Rights Management.

          Even though the entire game is played from the hard disk, you are still required to have the disk in the drive to ensure you have the right to play the game.

          I have no idea what you think DRM is.

          Last edited 12/11/13 11:44 am

            Lol I actually missed the part where he said the Disc is DRM and I thought he said the installation is DRM.

            My bad:(

          Ross is right in a sense. The disc itself is the DRM, which is why it has to be in the tray to play the game, so people don't just go installing games then passing them to their friends.

    I wonder if this dependency on going from the HDD will allow for any less moments like game freezes?

    That would be cool if they had the auto-deleting feature as an option. And if you could set how long before it deletes (1 month, 3 months, etc.) and what it deletes (just disc installed games, or both disc and downloaded).

    500GB storage is a joke, they should have come out with 1TB knowing how 10 games max was going to be a problem, it would barely bump up the price. PS3's come with 500GB now don't they? Why wouldn't they upgrade storage, knowing full well that people could fill their HDD within 6 months of launch?

      you can upgrade your HDD whenever you want with a ps4. 500gb will be enough for me, i do not play more than 10 'games' at any one time...

      They would have had to estimate what an 'average' user would require. I think that they made the right decision, balancing price against features. It was for basically the same reason that they didn't include a camera = most users would rather a cheaper console and wouldn't mind the absence of a camera / larger hdd.

    Are we going to be able to delete the installed data without removing patches/DLC etc.? Because if we can, then realistically we can just delete the games we don't play that often and allow space for others. And repeat as necessary. Annoying? Yes. But a valid option nevertheless. Of course assuming that I will be able to remove the installed data without having to download any DLC or game patches again.

    500gb is plenty I think in a way I have ps3 upgraded that with 500gb . I have over 25 games installed with still heaps of room left and I have over 100 games in my collection.

    Step 1 - Pick up PS4
    Step 2 - Install 1 TB hybrid SSD / HD Drive
    I don't know the real benefits of a hybrid in terms of whether the PS4 knows what to put on the SSD part, but just in case it is supported at some stage and hybrid drives are not too much more expensive

      Most people who have just bought a $550 PS4 + $100-$300 worth of games + possibly $70 for PS+ don't want to spend another $100

    I have zero intention of upgrading my HDD and I don't see the game installation size as being an issue. I would very very rarely go back and pick up and play an old game, and if I do woopie about it taking some time to install. I certainly will have enough for the 1-2 games I'm actively playing + 3-4 games I might pop in every now and then + DLC.

      Defiantly agree!!
      Bloody idiots trying to upgrade the hdd

    What's the current Australian average ADSL data cap? Realising that the ISPs generally don't increase them unless you do it manually, how many households might still be operating under data caps of 50 GB or less per month? As I recall, it wasn't that long ago that the average was only just over 20 GB. How usable would one of these consoles be in that situation?

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