For all those people thinking of picking up Sony’s upcoming slimmed-down version of the PlayStation 5, just know that the company is watching you when you set up the console’s new, detachable disc drive.
Twitter account CharlieIntel posted images on Tuesday of the new Modern Warfare III PS5 slim bundle. This was for the new, thinner PlayStation 5 with the disc drive already attached, noting a potential release date of Nov. 10. Eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted the fine print at the bottom of the box. One asterisk reads: “Internet connection required to pair disc drive and PS5 console upon setup.”
This implies the new version of the PlayStation requires an internet connection to pair the disc drive with the console itself, even if the drive comes pre-attached. The console is being sold in two versions, a $450 Digital Edition and a $500 version with the disc drive. The company is also selling the drive separately for $80.
Gizmodo reached out to Sony for confirmation, but based on the box’s text Sony may have added a kind of hardware DRM for its disc drive.
Pictures from Sony show that users need to take one of the console’s side plates off to install the drive. Sony may be concerned users will go out and buy aftermarket disc drives to hook up to their console, or worse, dare to modify the device with some other module that hooks in through those same slots.
Though most first-time buyers will likely have an internet connection when they first boot up their new slim console, the problem could be years down the line when Sony eventually abandons the PS5 servers. When that happens, users will have no way to activate their disc drive to play older games.
Sony is very, very protective of how users interact with its hardware. It took Sony close to a year after the PS5’s release before it allowed users to add more internal data storage. Back in 2020, Wired reported based on teardowns of the major consoles that the PS5’s disc drive is paired to the motherboard. The console will simply refuse to recognize any new disc drive, even if it comes from a different PS5.
All modern console makers are extremely protective of their hardware. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have managed to exclude themselves from upcoming right-to-repair legislation in California, claiming that they feared users would modify their hardware and pirate more games. Of course, there are many other device-makers that have tried to wall off their hardware, such as printers and dishwashers, which has led to a worse user experience, especially for those who want to self-repair their devices.