Current Blu-ray drives found in PlayStation 4, Xbox, and past systems like PS3 are unable to read data off the disc fast enough for gamers to play without first installing their games. This has been an issue now for 12 years and likely won’t be solved anytime soon. However, next-generation game consoles like PlayStation 5 and the currently code-named Xbox Project Scarlet could finally bring a change to the disc drive frontier of modern video games.
Technology has existed since shortly after the advent of Blu-ray itself to address the problem of speed, as well as storage. Sony has even done R&D tests on a 3tb successor to Blu-ray that simply isn’t practical nor needed yet. But one slightly modified Blu-ray could be all we need, Rev 2 (AKA Revision 2) or BDXL show potential.
One main problem is that untested standards like these which would allow for larger game discs running at faster speeds are not compatible with the Blu-ray assembly machines and Blu-ray drives that factories use to print millions of copies for games and game consoles use to play them. They also may have compatibility issues with Blu-ray movies. In short, a whole new type of Blu-ray production line is required to fix the problem game systems face.
Another issue is that current games are no longer designed to optimally data read off of a disc. PC games install and console games do too now, and if these standards are adapted to gaming consoles then many game design aspects will need to be rethought. Regardless of compression methods, enhancements to 4K and VR may also increase the demand for a new format on game systems, as currently the PS4 Pro and Xbox ONE X almost never feature native 4K game textures which take up much more space on PC when uncompressed.
Despite the challenges it does appear that using a new type of Blu-ray disc is at the least being considered by Sony and Microsoft in their next-generation platform. Xbox Boss Phil Spencer has already stated that he’s looking to build an Xbox w/ no loading, no installs and historically PlayStation has been a major hub for innovative tech debuts like the DVD and Blu-ray.
Although Nintendo eventually swapped over to cartridges running on flash memory for the Switch, the Wii U used a 25gb custom Blu-Ray with a proprietary standard developed by Nintendo and Panasonic that left the Wii U’s drive incompatible with movies. That Wii U version of Blu-ray was said to operate 50% faster than other game systems and meant that most games didn’t need to be installed. Xbox 360 often suffered towards the end of last-gen as developers figured out how to work with PS3’s strange CELL processor and the Blu-ray disc became a strength for its storage of high-resolution textures, leading Microsoft to pay up for access to Blu-ray on the Xbox ONE.
With Sony being the king of R&D, Xbox willing to pay for access to their tech, and enough Blu-ray players on the market for game systems to remove film support in favor of a different disc format that’s better suited to games, the environment could be just right. Whether it’s the multi-layered BDXL capable of much more storage, Blu-ray Rev 2 which was shown to use 300gb in testing, or something entirely different, we actually could be seeing Blu-ray drives using a much faster format next-gen on PS5 and Xbox.