As we move into the new generation, it appears the industry is taking big steps toward creating the eventuality of an all-digital future. Both PlayStation and Xbox are offering lower-priced all-digital consoles–the PS5 Digital Edition for $400 and the Xbox Series S for $300–which may make up an increasing share of their console sales as the generation continues. But a digital future poses a unique challenge for disabled gamers, and one that requires laying the groundwork for solutions now.
The benefit of an all-digital future for Microsoft and Sony is clear. With a discless console, you’re locked into their respective ecosystems and the companies get a cut of your purchases. It’s entirely conceivable that the shift toward all-digital will be partly organic, but also pushed hard by the platform-holders themselves. The lower price points for each appears aimed at incentivizing digital consoles to spur on this vision of the industry’s future.
The issue with all-digital consoles was flagged on Twitter by accessibility advocate and consultant Steve Saylor, aka the Blind Gamer. Saylor works with Can I Play That, an online resource for disabled gamers to find accessibility options in games. Saylor noted that disabled gamers often rely on trading in physical games to act as a stopgap, almost-refund policy if they come to realize a game isn’t well-suited to them. The concern is caused by a combination of generally poor pre-release information on accessibility options from publishers and the lack of refund policies on many digital storefronts.