Next-Gen Games Will Fill Our New Consoles' Hard Drives In No Time

Next-Gen Games Will Fill Our New Consoles' Hard Drives In No Time

The PlayStation 4's internal hard drive is 500GB, and if you buy and start playing just two of its launch day first-person shooters this month, you may already be using more than a 10th of the drive. Welcome to a somewhat different era of console gaming.

Above you'll the see part of the back of the box for Call of Duty Ghosts on PS4. It requires 49GB of space on the PS4's 500 GB hard drive. Killzone: Shadow Fall requires 45GB.

The PS4 requires users to dedicate hard drive space to all games they play. According to the console's official FAQ:

All PS4 Blu-ray Disc games must be cached to the hard drive to ensure a smooth gaming experience. However, certain titles may not require you to wait for the game data to be fully cached before starting gameplay. In order to start playing disc-based games, users will need to insert the game disc into PS4 just like on the PS3 system.

Sony, notably, alternates between calling this a "mandatory install" and "caching", the latter term allowing for the possibility that the data may not have to stay on your hard drive. That could mean that games won't hog as much space and will delete themselves if/when the system clears its cache. We'll see.

This isn't just a PS4 thing. As we reported back in February before the console was even officially announced, the Xbox One also requires that all games be stored on its hard drive and run from there.

Like the PS4, the Xbox One will launch with a 500GB hard drive. And also like the PS4, some games on Xbox One can be played while they're installing. We don't know which games, and we don't know how long players will have to wait to play CoD, Killzone or any other launch game on the two consoles.

The hard drive installation/caching requirement on these new machines is likely in place for performance. The consoles can pull data more quickly off a hard drive than they can off the Blu-Ray discs that PS4 and Xbox One games will be sold on. Running games off the hard drive should also keep the Blu-Ray drive from needing to spin much and make a lot of noise.

The need to store games on the systems will force PS4 and Xbox One gamers to adopt a PC gamers' sense for balancing what's installed and what isn't and therefore what is or isn't available to play immediately. If a console can only fit 10 or so major releases, which ones will you keep on there — especially if installation times prove to be even just a few minutes longer than is ideal?

The PS4 hard drive will be swappable, so users will be able to give themselves more storage. The machine won't support external drives.

The Xbox One hard drive will not be swappable, but it will support external drives, just not at launch.

Even once you install a game to a PS4 or Xbox One hard drive, you'll still need to put the game's disc in the console to run it. Microsoft famously and notoriously had been planning to not require that with a now-tabled plan to treat all disc and download Xbox One games as purely digital, non-physical entities. Under that old plan, after installing an Xbox One game from a disc, users would never have to insert the disc again. Each disc game, once installed, would be verified by a once-a-day online check to ensure you had the right to play the game sans disc (one wonders if/when some gamers will get tired of discs and ask for that program back at least as an option).

Gamers won't really have a full 500GB of drive space on the Sony and Microsoft consoles. Both machines will use some storage for system software. We don't know how much space the PS4 software will use. Microsoft has warned that its system software "uses a significant amount of storage."

Over in Wii U land, game installations are not required. The system comes with a scant 32GB of storage (of which about 25GB is available for games) but supports external drives.

All three new-generation consoles are or are expected to offer all major first-party games for download if all of this disc stuff sounds too annoying. Then again, if you download your games and run out of room, you'll have a storage headache of your own. Hey, PC gamers have had to deal with this for years and they seem like a happy enough bunch. Console folks will survive.

We'll have plenty more about the experience of gaming on the PS4 and Xbox One throughout the month. The PS4 will be out in less than two weeks (Nov 15) and the Xbox One a week after that.

NOTE: There's another eyebrow-raiser on the back of that Call of Duty box. "Offline play enabled." Gee, Call of Duty people, why'd you need to tell us that? Since when can't you play part of a CoD offline? Was anyone expecting the game to be online-only?

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.


    To avoid the perception of bias, the author has made sure to balance coverage of both doom AND gloom.

      I notice they're still ignoring the minorities of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt though.

        The minorities are NEVER thought about. The FUDU (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Union) will be staging a protest rally to ensure that they are duly represented alongside the 'normal' Doom and Gloom, and be spreading the word that FUD is a very valid and equal part of journalism.

    Holy christ that's a massive HDD install for a disc based game! Is it the same as the online version, or is that even bigger?

      Nope, download is the same. All next generation games are around the same size. Because they don't have to fit to a 9GB disc anymore, compression has gone by the wayside.

      As far as the Xbox goes, It's been said that you can install a game from a disc, and then use that data for the digital version if you buy the game online. So that gives reason to believe both versions are basically identical.
      Source -

      To add weight to that, there was also an article by a community manager for Activision (forget the guys name) that said Ghosts was exactly the same both physically and digitally, the only difference was the delivery method.

      So from what I have seen around the net, that's about as close as we can get to confirmation that they are both identical in size. Guess we will find out when they launch.....

        It's a shame that generally with console games the online version is more expensive than the disc based, with less bonus content. We'll see if this changes, but I doubt it.

          Yeah I know right. At the moment on the Aussie psn:
          AC 4 $99.95 (Big W $58)
          BF4 $99.95 (Big W $68)
          COD: Ghosts $99.95 (Big W $68)

          Also GTA 5 is $110 on the psn still and I picked it up on launch day for $78 with the atomic blimp "preorded bonus".

          Its disappointing that the main retailer Eb games (owned by Gamestop from the USA) has such an influence to keep prices higher digitally than they should be. Basically EB will not stock games that would be offered digitally for cheaper than they can sell it.

          I seriously never understand how Eb games gets so many preorders and has people turning up to midnight launches when they are so overpriced. E.g. The AC4 release who would pay EB $99.95 to get it at midnight when you could just get it 9 hours later for $58 from Big W.

          Oh well luckily there is Big W 2 stores down from my local EB games so I get my games for a decent price.

            I just bought AC4 today from my local JB-Hi-Fi, they were more than willing to price-match Big W, (as was EB, actually). I prefer to support EB and JB, Big W has the worst games section I've ever seen in my life - an entire wall of crappy DS games nobody's heard of, obligatory Pokemon rack, and every version and expansion pack of the Sims ever.

              My local EB is the opposite I saw the 2IC in Kmart the day AC4 came out, and he was flipping through the AC4 cases. He proceeded to tell me that he was checking out how much stock they had because they only have to price match if the other store has stock. I said "so you'll price match then", he said "nah, they'll be sold out in an hour". So he left and I bought my copy from Kmart, went into Kmart again today and they still have just as many cases on the shelf as they did on launch day.

              Last edited 04/11/13 10:32 pm

      Meh. I'll slip in a bigger drive like I did the ps3 40gb to 500gb.

    I guess that waiting 6 months or so, like I was already planning to do, will have some advantages. By that time they will probably have released versions with upgraded HDD sizes!

    Hey, PC gamers have had to deal with this for years and they seem like a happy enough bunch. Console folks will survive.

    Yeah, but there's one major difference, if a PC has 5 spare bays, you'd have the ability to put in 5 (up to) 4TB hard drives, which would make a total of 20TB.

    So if you installed around 8-10 games on a PS4 or Xbone (assuming games are 40-50GB on average, and allowing space for the OS) you'd have no room left.

      Yeah, I leave LOADS of stuff installed all the damn time because I have multiple drives with multiple terabytes of space. If I didn't, I wouldn't be quite as happy a camper as I am.

        Out of my 200+ steam library I probably have over half of it installed.
        I think my Steam folder is about 800GB

    By the same token, a PC gamer with a relatively small HDD (<1TB) will see game installs getting larger as well. What's the go with swapping HDDs on the PS4 though? Same as with the PS3, just grab a generic one, install the OS and away you go?

    That being said, I don't plan on playing 10+ games at once so I don't have much of an issue with deleting and installing games as needed. I do it on my PC, and at least with the PS4 you're more likely to have a disc instead of downloading it off Steam. Imagine the wait for a 50GB game to download and then install on Steam. That's one of the reasons (the main reason really) why Microsoft very wisely didn't go digital only with the Xbone. The shitstorm would be massive if they had've kept that policy. In Australia some kids would've be able to go through their (non-tech savvy) parent's download limit just downloading one game, not to mention with our wonderful telecomms network being as fast as it is, you could've bought a console day one and not be able to play it all the way through before the download finishes on day 2/3

      The original microsoft policy that you said is 'digital only', didn't mean you had to DL every game. It just meant if you purchased the disc, once installed, it just did a simple online check rather than requiring the disc to be in... not a massive problem really... people just made it out to be bigger than what is was.

        I was sure that originally they were looking at the Xbone being download only and not having discs. Then they brought it back that games woulf continue being on discs but would then require regular checks online

      From what I have read so far you can just upgrade the HDD in the PS4 the same way you can in the PS3.

      The Xbone HDD is not upgradeable but supports USB drives.

    The 2.5" hard drives only seem to get as big as 1TB so even then it's not a massive upgrade over 500GB.

    I was hoping that by sticking to disc based games I could avoid taking up too much hard drive space (but really it's to save on download quota). I plan on being a lot pickier with game buying this generation so hopefully I won't be filling up my hard drive very quickly.

      2.5 inch and 9.5 mm 1.5TB
      already got mine sitting there waiting.

    Oh wow, now they're advertising offline play as a feature?

      I know, right? Gaming sure got a little bit more artificially complicated since the good ol' days.

        "Pre-order Dragon Age 3 right now and you'll recieve a code to allow you to play the game, OFFLINE!".

        Tell me about it. What ever happened to the days when you bought a game and just played it?

          They are now but a memory.

          Let us have a moment of silence for the death of console gaming as we once knew it.

          They ended the day the put hard drives and network connections into consoles. As soon as they were able to start fixing things with patches after release, day 1 quality went by the wayside. Although in fairness, games are also a lot more complex these days - it'd be pretty much impossible to get something like a Battlefield or an Elder Scrolls working perfect first try because there are just too many variables to be able to test (or even think of) every possible scenario prior to release.

      Sadly I see this becoming increasingly common with 'next-gen'.

      Forcing and integrating features into being online whether its required or not. Sort of like how Ubisoft are going about single player with AssCreed 4, not enabling things until you're signed it to their systems.

      These systems aren't being used as just for multiplayer/matchmaking anymore but to integrate the entire game. Who cares about season passes when you're restricted from the get-go.

      For me as an almost exclusive SP person, this doesn't sit right with me, I feel old.

      Last edited 04/11/13 2:26 pm

    Hopefully, all the games will allow the "play while installing" feature. Honestly, the only games that will stay installed on my PS4 will be multiplayer games. KZ, CoD, BF4 etc.

    I like that "Offline play enabled" thing, it's almost like that's another dig at Microsoft about the DRM. :P

    Heck ...I remember Dune 2 being 7mb when 40mb hdds were the norm. Authors is just yelling ..Sky is falling ??

      Pretty much. PS4 debuted with what, a 40gb hdd? Games installed at around 2 - 5gb back then max. That was an eighth of the drive max. This is what, a tenth? Same deal. No different.

        But it is funny that the latest releases (forgot which ones, thouhg i may be wrong too) are also almost 50GB on ps3 too, so for games to have gotten so large to totally eclipse the entire first Gen HDD space is insane.

        If the same thing happened in 8 years with the next batch of consoles(which honestly is likely, UHD 4-8k will be the norm ), well, the Liberals shitty NBN would be looking quite the silly goose. Also imagine a 500gb game, what exactly would that look like? how amazing could the lighting textures AI and physics be, would be extraordinary.

    My PS3 has a 250GB drive, it is my secondary console (spend most of my time on my 360 or PC)... and its hard drive was filled up with mandatory installs and downloaded games within twelve months of its purchase. The PS4 has twice the space, and requires five times the install space per game? I don't think it'll last 'til March. At least PS+ means I don't have to worry about deleting old saves...

    I can’t wait until it finally gets to the point that we just get digital media for all our games.
    I’d love to be able to boot up my Xbox one day and have all 150+ games that I own on a system available at my fingertips.

    I didn’t start downloading games until right at the end of this generation and I have to say it’s a MUCH better way of playing.
    Sometimes I have no idea what I want to play and being able to just boot up the system and run through a list of titles means I almost always find something cool to play or I’m more likely to go back to revisit and older title or duck in for a quick game of something fun.

    While I was supportive of it I can understand the issues that some people had with the proposed Xbone “always”-online restrictions. I am looking forward to a day when technology reaches the point where gamers can digitally access all their stored content conveniently whilst still protecting the rights of the software developer.

      I'm sure everyone is, but we will never have it till the world wide infrastructure can support such an endevour. Hell IF Australia actually got the entire of Labours FTTP NBN plan, what you've suggested would have been entirely possible.

      It wouldn't stop there either, it would expand into movies/tv shows and all forms of entertainment and into things that aren't even possible.

    You know, a much simpler solution would be to stop making the games so bloody big. They simply don't need to be. All you'd need to do is get devs to trim down the graphics quality of their games, since the standards of next-gen (and let's be honest, current gen) graphics are frankly excessive.

      Haha! Well I have to say that’s the strangest comment I’ve seen on here for a long time.

      Humans are very visual creatures, I’d put this comment along the lines of “I wish I was going blind, frankly I’ve been able to see far too much unnecessary detail recently”.

      Adding visual flair to things has been a trademark of human and animal behaviour for almost as long as life has existed. From enjoying a nice view, to Chinese fireworks, to the first coloured sashes, to colourful birds and fish in the animal world or brightly coloured flowers designed to attract birds and other insects.

      Apart from a handful of animals which use their blandness as camouflage, I don’t think there’s any kind of natural precedent for “this looks unnecessarily nice! :-(”.

        Thanks Welkin!

          lol ... is this actually a Valkyria Chronicles reference?

            Humans are very visual creatures [...] Adding visual flair to things has been a trademark of human and animal behaviour for almost as long as life has existed [...] to colourful birds and fish in the animal world or brightly coloured flowers designed to attract birds and other insects.

            I'll let you decide Mooiiiinkkk!

    In theory that may sound easy but it isn't as it means a great amount of time deciding what should be cut down graphically. Then it will lead to people whining etc. Interesting enough I am currently in a lecture on rendering graphics. :P

    Either way I always figured I'd have a 1TB 2.5" HDD ready to go into my PS4 when I eventually buy it. I'm kind of hoping that 2TB 2.5" HDDs that fit the height restriction in the PS4 come along sooner though :(

    I hope there's some sort of minimal/normal/full install feature on these things. I'll happily play most games with a full install, but I'd like to be able to go back to another game six months after I've finished playing it without having to reinstall everything.
    A multi-HDD model would also help things out a bit. Having a PS4 or XO 'XL' model with room for three additional HDDs would be nice.

    "All three new-generation consoles are or are expected to offer all major first-party games for download if all of this disc stuff sounds too annoying. Then again, if you download your games and run out of room, you’ll have a storage headache of your own. Hey, PC gamers have had to deal with this for years and they seem like a happy enough bunch. Console folks will survive."

    I don't think it's the "disc stuff" that's the annoying part (digital downloads are frequently more expensive than their hardcopy counterparts anyway) - both versions will take up the same amount of space, so the 'headache' remains the same: lack of storage space or suitable compression.

    And a key difference with PC is the ability to have external/internal drives separate to your Operating System to be used as storage space. So whilst games might be bigger across all platforms in this next generation, storage isn't an issue on PC as there are many internal and external options made available (my own PC has five available quick-use bays). Can't exactly (easily) swap-out a PS4 hard-drive merely to have access to the other half of your game collection.
    Steam even grants the option to allocate certain games to certain drives.

    It kinda makes me wish there was a base HDD for the OS and any basic system settings or vital non-game content, and an optional secondary bay so you could keep several drives and merely swap them out.

    Last edited 04/11/13 1:03 pm

    This has me more curious about PC versions of the same games. Assuming they are roughly the same size for install (49gb), will PC versions of these games come with 7 or 8 DVDs when buying the hard copy? I don't have the means to download 49gb per game, so I'm always going to buy hard copies. This also poses the question, how long until PC games are shipped entirely on Bluray discs?

      Copied this from the Steam store page for Call Of Duty: Ghosts

      OS: Windows 7 64-Bit / Windows 8 64-Bit
      CPU: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8200 2.66 GHZ / AMD Phenom™ X3 8750 2.4 GHZ or better
      RAM: 6 GB RAM
      HDD : 40 GB HD space
      Video: NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTS 450 / ATI® Radeon™ HD 5870 or better
      Sound: DirectX® compatible sound card
      DirectX®: DirectX® 11
      Internet: Broadband connection and service required for Multiplayer Connectivity. Internet connection required for activation.

      Interesting that the PC version requires 40GB of free hard drive space, while the PS4 version needs 49GB.

      I too would be interested to see if the hard copy is going to ship on 7 or so DVD's, I might ask next time I'm in my local EB.

      Also, I don't think PC games are too far off being released on Blu-Ray, the drives are dirt cheap, then again, they'll probably bypass Blu-Ray and go straight to download only, which could pose a problem for a lot of people (myself included).

      Downloads will be the way of the future. Maybe not tomorrow or next year but I doubt Blu-ray will be used much. It will probably be a stop gap while most of the world transitions to downloading.

      At the end of the day, just because you can't DL 49gb doesn't mean that 90% of a particular market can't. Unfortnautly as is the case with most technology, if you don't keep up you'll get left behind.

      I'm not saying that's an option for everyone, but that's what's going to happen.

      Look at it this way. Blu-Ray has been around for what, 8 years? PC games still don't come on Blu-Ray. I don't see why they would bother starting now.
      Last physical copy I bought was Splinter Cell Blacklist and that was 3 DVDs and that installed to 25GB (I think... not easy to find the system requirements for some reason and I'm not home to check.)

    Meh! I'll just grab a larger HDD. 1.5Gb drives aren't that expensive. Plus I constantly "clean out" my current 250Gb PS3 HDD, so it's not that bad

    I have been wondering for quite a while why the next gen will only ship with 500GB drives. It seems like more of a strategy for future sales of larger expansion drives. Considering the install base and ease of access is now irrelevant between disc and download, it appears to me that they have foreseen the issue and may very well release larger expansion drives in the future simply to cash in.

    Why would they ship the next gen with HDD large enough to store 50 or even 100 games on release? And if there is an easier way to expand the storage, why don't we already know about it?

    The PS3 does allow you to expand the internal drive but it isn't as straightforward as it may seem. What's more, even after the expansion you still have to re-install everything you want to play, and download any games or expansions bought online separately all over again.

    There's no indication of a modular solution in the near future which PC has the luxury of. Nor is there any proof that data transfer and storage will be any quicker than it exists already. It's been a while since I swapped out a PS3 HDD but it wasn't a quick operation and it isn't something the weekend CoD player will immediately be comfortable doing. Not to mention the parents out there who aren't tech savvy in the slightest.

    I also recall a limit on the size of HDD the existing PS3 (for example) can accommodate. Forgive me if I'm wrong but I think anything over the 1TB mark was incompatible and caused problems. Even a 1TB HDD still needs to be partitioned which essentially reduces the storage space significantly even before any OS requirements? Again, not sure just how accurate this is as I hardly play the consoles nowadays. Paired with the limitations of a 2.5" form factor greatly reduces the internal storage options for the more discerning consumer.

    Granted, there's a great deal of data that can be stored on a 500GB PS3 at the moment but with some next gen titles requiring upwards of 40GB of space, I don't think it's safe to say consumers will be as content as the PC players out there. And the reason why is simple. I currently have the luxury of a 120GB SSD which houses my OS and other crucial programs/ data, and as many as 4 2TB HDD's (2 Internal/ 2 external) which i can pretty much use as I please. At this very moment I'm only using one of each but I have the others there for Steam library and media backups. I'm not the guy who likes to constantly consider what to have installed and what to purge. I like all of my games available to me whenever I like.

    TL;DR: I reckon it's abysmal marketing strategies and unnecessary limitations based solely on projected sales. If there was any consideration given to the consumers needs based on proof of larger storage requirements, the designers or whatever you call 'em would have opted for a modular internal expansion or full support of multiple external drives.

    Either that or they create a 10TB branded drive at a competitive price. That is wishful thinking though...


    I was copping flack just the other day for mentioning the idea of upgrading my ps4 hdd to a 2tb one, I guess I wasn't far off.

    I was at EB games today. and looked at the BF4 cover. its 3 DVD's so thats around 15gb compressed. probably 40 od gig when it s all said n done!
    side not never buying a COD game or BF game within the first 6 months. I went with ArMA3 and its fucking great!!!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now