Disc-less Xbox? Not Likely

Rumors. They make the world go round. This especially holds true in the video game industry. It seems like every day, a new, exclusive rumor pops up on a random site. While quite frequently these rumors do come true, I feel that it’s a matter of statistics. If people make enough crap up speculating on what’s going to happen, eventually they’ll get some right. With the release of the Wii-U around the corner, it’s no surprise that talk about a new PS and Xbox console will make its way around the web. The most interesting rumor to date regarding the Xbox is the lack of a disc drive entirely. The problem is, the way the market is right now, attempting to go disc-less would not be a smart move for Microsoft.

Inability to trade/sell/lend games. From a purely consumer standpoint, this is one of the top reasons why consoles have gained an enormous amount of momentum over the past decade. Take that away and you have nothing more than a cheap PC that can’t be upgraded.

Inability to play any DVDs/Blu-rays. If you haven’t noticed, Redbox and Netflix have grown in popularity. People still want to consume physical media. I am probably typical of many gamers, in not owning a stand alone DVD or Blu-ray player. Those roles are filled by both my 360 and PS3.

Microsoft is terrible at providing cheap peripherals. If the next Xbox decides to axe the disc drive, it’s going to either need a different form of distribution or go purely digital. Given the track record of Microsoft, they like to overprice their hard drives. I personally have a 500 GB for my PC that’s specifically for games. I have roughly 40 GB of that left. If I’m going to start buying my games in a digital form, I’m going to need the room to store them all. I do not want to spend ten times the price just because Microsoft thinks their HDDs are special.

While each point on its own doesn’t seem like a huge issue, combining them all causes one giant problem for Microsoft. Couple that with the fact that Sony will be most likely continuing with Blu-ray, it would be hard to justify purchasing both new consoles when one clearly would have more options than the other one. Unless Microsoft is willing to not gouge its customers with their accessory pricing, pushing a disc-less device would be quite the hard sell.

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  1. Whodini1

    And a bigger reason. Lack of worldwide fast broadband!

    Average best speed across the UK is 4 meg. Rage takes up 21 gb! It would take days to download and most ISPs would then put a choke on your usage for the next month.

    And that’s an AVERAGE best speed. Go to smaller villages and you can struggle to get broadband at all!

  2. Diarmuid

    No disk would not mean download-only. It could just mean some form of proprietary storage for games i.e. locked SSDs

  3. zero_requiem

    I personally hope this is not the case. As much as I do hate swapping disks and I do love games on demand, Microsoft just doesn’t do storage that well. If they went digital only, then they would have to have a cost effective hard-drive, and the easy ability to upgrade. There other option would be a massive increase in cloud storage capacity, seeing as how 512 mb is basically a drop in the bucket. So basically there only recipe for success is cheap storage (not bloody likely) and release day games on demand. Yep, I’m holding my breath for those outcomes.

  4. Matthew J

    While I sincerely doubt the next Xbox will be digital-only (unless it releases in 2025, which is a slight possibility at this point,) I would hope it’s taking the first steps towards an all digital future.

    I’ve seen a lot of people be annoyed (and rightfully so) at Microsoft’s HDD prices. Sony’s not squeaky clean either if you look at the mandatory proprietary memory cards for the Vita ($100 for 32 gb is way, way worse than Microsoft’s $130 for 360 gb HDD, but neither are a good deal compared to PC drives.) Don’t be surprised when the PS4 comes with something similar. To, you know, “stem piracy.”

    However, if the price of two or three games means for the life of the system I never have to go to a physical store and buy a game or wait on it to be shipped to my home, then sign me up day one. I’d pay $500 easy to never have to walk into a GameStop again and hear:”Did you preorder? No? Than we won’t sell you the game.” Or get blank stares at WalMart when I ask for the newest game on release day.

    Give me day one digital releases and a big enough HDD to store more than a few games (I’d love an SSD,) and the day of physical media will be gone to me.

  5. Captain Hindsight

    Considering that I buy most of my games used or on clearance, not having a disk drive would really suck, and probably keep me in the current generation for quite awhile after it would launch. On the other side, if the disks are “one person use” sort of deal then please microsoft, if you’re really going to go there, take it all the way by making it all digital. Enough dancing around with online passes and crap, either give us everything on the disk (no penalty for buying used) or just tell us straight up that what we just bought is a one shot deal.

  6. imonthenet

    I can almost certainly say that in the future disks will become a thing of the past, like records or cassettes. I just don’t think it will happen in this generation, and especially not with XBOX. The way I see it, one of the major selling points of the 360 was (and is) it’s cheap price. Now this meant that my somewhat poorer friends (just stating truth) bought a 360 over a PS3. Because they didn’t have a lot of money they often shared games between each other, and most certainly could not manage to fit in the cost of LIVE with other, (arguably) more important expenses such as food. If Microsoft were to go diskless it would completely cut off this market.

    With Kinect, the family and casual market was introduced to the XBOX. This market would also be cut because likely young family data plans don’t allow for the amount of data needed to download full titles.

    Another point is that with the PSN Hack, internet security has been brought into a new light, one the whole world now takes an interest in, rather than just the paranoid. Microsoft would have a whole lot of convincing to get people onside with their totally secure network, after all, if something can be built it can be destroyed and the bigger they are the harder they fall.

    In short, it isn’t going to happen this generation as reliable internet isn’t as available as disks, and it would alienate a huge audience.

  7. Lukas Heinzel

    I think its very likely. When you say discless , you dontz have to say that there wont be another physical medium.

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