Saturday, 15 Jun 2024
Technology

Do you need the Internet for the PS5?

I have a confession to make… I’m a bit of an introvert. I enjoy nothing more than cuddling up under a blanket, console controller in hand, playing through a game on my own. I love to take the time to enjoy my games. I think this is a throwback from the days of the Sega Genesis, SNES, and PS1. The golden age of gaming where single-player experience ruled. Now, in our connected world, modern consoles assault us with messages, notifications, and party invites constantly. But I don’t want that. I want to play in tranquility with only the sounds from the game as company. But that got me thinking: Can the PS5 even play games offline? Do you need an internet connection for the PS5 to work? I slid on my Gauntlets of Investigation ready to start a search for answers. This is what I found:

Do you need the internet for the PS5: The difference between the digital and disk PS5

Playing offline

The Digital PS5

Unfortunately, the all-digital PlayStation 5 must be connected to the internet when playing games. This is because the games that you own must be verified as being owned by your account each and every time the game is started. And this can only be done over the internet. The reason Sony has done this is to stop those pesky pirates from pillaging games for free. If the PS5 didn’t check that an all-digital edition of a game was tied to your account, you could effectively just copy a game to an external hard drive, give it to your friend, and then they could copy the game to their PS5 and play it as their own game. Obviously, Sony wants to squeeze as much cash out of each one of us as possible. So copying games from one hard drive to another is out of the question.

The Disk PS5

The disk version of the PS5 can actually play PS5 games completely offline. However, you can only play games offline that you own physically on disk. This is because the disk-based PS5 verifies ownership by detecting the game’s Blu-ray in the drive. It doesn’t have to check against an online database. It’s worth noting that digital-only games, or disk-based games that you chose to buy digitally, still need an internet connection to verify ownership. Fortunately, this digital download conundrum doesn’t apply to DLC that you have bought for a physical disk-based game that you own. So for example, if you bought the disk version of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla on PS5, you could buy the DLC digitally, and still play the game offline as ownership is verified by the disk. Some games, such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, can be played from the disk on PS5 without ever having previously connected to the internet. However, even for Miles’ first adventure on a Sony console, I’d still recommend connecting to the internet. Many games receive “Day Zero” patches to eliminate bugs and improve performance. Skipping the online party means you’re often not getting the gaming experience you’ve paid good money for. Thankfully, after you have patched your game, you can then play offline to your heart’s content.

Quick summary:

  • The Digital PS5 can’t play offline because game ownership is verified over the internet.
  • The disk-based PS5 can play games offline. You still need the disk in the drive to verify ownership.
  • It’s worth logging online once to download Day-Zero patches for games.

What are the benefits of connecting the PS5 to the Internet?

Though it’s nice to play offline from time to time, there are actually many benefits to hooking your PS5 up to the internet. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Download Patches

Probably the biggest reason to hook your PS5 up to the internet are game patches. These days most games are shipped with many game-breaking bugs that are fixed by the previously mentioned “Day Zero” patch. The reason why this practice started is that modern games go gold – Going Gold is when the files that make up the game are finalized and sent to the manufacturer of Blu-Rays – many weeks before the games release date. In fact, some games can be finalized 6-12 weeks before they reach store shelves. The Day zero patch is therefore the culmination of all the work the developer gets to do in the 6-12 week period between the game going gold and the released date. This 6-12 week period is used to improve the performance stability of the game even further. However, this Day Zero patching process does cause problems. Developers have now become reliant on delivering a Day Zero patch. So some shipped games don’t actually hold all the necessary data to be played on the disk. A good example of a game that was desperate for its Day Zero patch was Cyberpunk 2077. The game, to be frank, was a broken unplayable mess without its Day Zero patch. Thankfully, the patch ironed out some, not all, of the game-ending problems. But this just illustrates the point that it’s important to, somehow, log onto the internet for your games to patch themselves.

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Download system updates

The PlayStation 5’s operating system and UI are complex beasts, ever-evolving in the face of user needs and use trends. Sony regularly, usually 4-6 times a year, updates the UI with new features and enhancements to old ones. So it’s worth logging on to download new OS updates as they may add essential or exciting new usability.

Play online

One of the main reasons to connect your PS5 to the internet is so you can play online with friends, acquaintances, and randoms. Ok, maybe not randoms.

PS Now

PS Now is a collection of over 350 games that can be played instantly via streaming or downloaded onto your PS5. Games from the PS2, PS3, PS4, and eventually the PS5 are included in the collection. And all these games can be yours for a very low monthly fee. However, all these games are served up digitally. So you need an internet connection to enjoy the benefits of Playstation Now.

Buy Digital-only games

Many indie games only ever get released digitally. Connecting your console to the net will let you enjoy some of the greatest games ever made outside of the standard Triple-As that Naughty Dog and Insomniac grace us with.

Online game sales

Another reason to pipe the internet down to the PS5 is so you can enjoy the PSN game sales that frequently pop up. These sales are a proper money saver as Sony often deems it their duty to slash 90% off the price of games, or more.

Convenience

Let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to click a few buttons and download a game than it is to get dressed, drive into town, shoulder past crowds to the game shop, buy the game, drive all the way home, and finally play the game. Why would anybody want to do that over buying digitally? Not only are you saving yourself a lot of time and effort, but you’re helping to save the environment too. Think about it… Avoiding your car means less CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere. And you’re not buying yet more plastic “DVD cases” that’ll end up choking the oceans in a few years time.

Play internet-connected single-player games

Some single players games, annoyingly, think it’s necessary to be connected at all times to the internet when playing. Godfall, a Gearbox looter-hacker, is guilty of this unforgivable sin. To play on your own, you need an internet connection. It’s impossible to play without one. Which is a shame because it’s a great game. And sadly, we can expect more looter co-op multiplayer games to require an online connection.

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Get PS Plus games

To play online on a PlayStation console, you need Playstation Plus. But Playstation Plus is well worth having for two reasons. One, it gives you an extra 10-20% discount during PSN sales. Two, you get 2-3 free games every month. For example, in December 2020, Sony gave away Just Cause 4. And it’s Fab!

You can use Playstation 5 apps

Finally, the PS5 comes with a plethora of non-gaming apps such as Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video. All of which can only be enjoyed with an active internet connection.

What is the optimal internet speed for the Playstation 5?

Smart home

Ok, now you know there are a lot of reasons why you should connect your PS5 to the internet. However, broadband internet can get very expensive very fast. And these days, especially during our, hopefully, post-COVID world, we should all be more aware of our financial situation and budget accordingly. So that brings up the question? What is the optimal internet speed for the PS5? After all, why pay more for a faster internet connection that you don’t need?

On looking for an answer to this question I noticed that most websites recommended an internet connection with a download speed of between 50Mbs and 100Mbs download speeds per second. But I was wondering, do you really need speed that high? Or do you need more?

Well, it turns out, the internet speed you need is determined by two factors, they are:

  • The maximum number of simultaneous devices connected to the internet that regularly play 4K/Download large amounts of data.
  • The desired maximum download speed for large amounts of data.

Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Factor 1: The number of devices connected to your internet

The number of devices simultaneously downloaded through your internet connection will greatly affect what internet speed you need. Streaming is one of the most data-intensive tasks you can perform over the internet, so I thought I’d start there. On querying Netflix, I found that they recommend a speed of 25Mbs per 4k stream. So 2 simultaneous 4k streams would need 50mbs. 3 would need 75mbs, and so on. That’s the same across all streaming platforms. Now, playing games online doesn’t actually require anywhere near as much data bandwidth as 4K streaming. But Assume for simplicity’s sake that your PS5, or any other console or gaming device, needs 25Mbs while playing online. So that’s 25Mbs per 4k streaming device/console/PC. So it makes sense that if you have 8 streaming devices, you just multiply that number by 25 to get a desired minimum internet speed of 200Mbs. However, there’s another variable we need to take into account: the number of people who live in your house who share your internet. For example, say there are 4 people in your household. Each person isn’t going to be using multiple dives all the time. Most of the time they will just be using one device. But you still want enough headroom on your internet connection to run more devices than there are people in your house. I’ve developed a simple equation that helps to determine the required minimum internet speed in any given household.

((Number of people living in house + Number of high data/4k streaming devices used) / 2) X 25

Here’s an example, in my house we have 4 people living here. So there is the first number: 4. As for devices, I have 2 work PCs, 3 Consoles, 1 gaming PC, and 2 Streaming TV for a total of 8 devices that could theoretically be working simultaneously. So let’s do the math. 8 + 4 = 12. Great. Now we want to find an average so we take the number 12 and divide it 2. 12 / 2 = 6. Now we want to determine what internet speed we need. To do that we multiply the new number, 6, by 25. Remember 25 is the minimum speed in Mbs you need for one stream. 6 X 25 = 150Mbs. That means, for a household with 4 people and 8 streaming/data-heavy devices, you’d need a minimum broadband internet speed of 150Mbs. At 150Mbs, you could stream 3 4k films simultaneously, and still have 75Mbs left over to download games in the background. Here’s the full equation again:

((Number of devices 8 + Number of people 4) / 2) X 25Mbs = 150Mbs

Factor 2: Desired Download speeds

Maximum download speeds affect how quickly large amounts of data can be downloaded such as games and patches. For example, a 100Mbs connection, running at peak speed, can download 1GB of data in about 82 seconds. Pretty nippy! However, some games are huge these days and can weigh in at 60GB or more in size. At 100Mbs it would take 82 minutes to download a 60GB game. Or about 90 minutes in the real world. Better start making that cup of coffee, it’s gonna be a long wait. However, if you upgrade to a faster internet connection, say 400Mbs, the 82 minute download time drops to just 20 minutes and 30 seconds. So internet speed isn’t just important for the number of simultaneous users, it determines how long you have to wait to actually play your games. And remember, that’s if nobody is downloading anything. If you have a 150Mbs connection and 75Mbs are being used by other devices in your house, you’ll only have 75Mbs to download your game.

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Optimal Internet speed for PS5: The bottom line

The bottom line is this: Your minimum internet speed is determined by the number of users in your house plus the number of devices in your house that can stream 4K / Download large amounts of data. This number is then divided by 2 to get an average. This new number is then multiplied by 25. The final number is the minimum internet speed you need in Mbs.

Example:

((4 people + 8 devices) / 2) X 25 = 150Mbs

Additionally, your internet speed dictates how quickly you can download large files. So if you intend on downloading a lot of games and patches, then the faster the internet you have the quicker those games and patches will download. A good habit to get into is putting your console on standby so large patches or games can be downloaded at night when you are not playing. It’s also worth noting that if you do not own a 4K TV you will not stream in 4k. Instead, you’ll stream in 1080p. The bitrate needed for 1080p is around half that of 4K. So if you are only using 1080p screens for streaming throughout your house, you can halve all the numbers above. So 150Mbs becomes 75Mbs.

Conclusion

It wouldn’t be an article on Eireview if I didn’t end it with a scintillating summary. So here’s your quick reminder before you hit the road:

  • Digital PS5 must be online at all times to play games.
  • Disk PS5 can play games offline by verifying owner with inserted disk.
  • Many benefits of connecting the PS5 to the internet. These include:
    • Download patches
    • Download system updates
    • Play online
    • PS Now
    • Buy digital-only games
    • Online game sales
    • Convenience
    • Play internet-connected single-player games
    • Get PS plus games
    • Communicate with friends
    • Use PlayStation apps.
  • The optimal Internet speed is based on:
    • The number of people in your house + the number of simultaneous devices hooked up. This number is divided by 2. Then this new number is timesed by 25 to give you a minimum internet speed for your house in Megabits per second.
    • Example: 4 people + 8 devices = 12. 12 / 2 = 6. 6 X 25 = 150Mbs
  • Your internet speed is also determined by how quickly you want to download games.
  • As a rule of thumb, a 100Mbs connection when dedicated to the PS5 will download a 60GB game in about 90 minutes.

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