Microsoft might be working on something a little unusual, even for them. A report from Brad Sams of Thurrott.com, who has been accurate with Xbox info in the past, claims that the company is launching yet another Xbox One console in 2019. The prime difference is that this new console will be lacking a disc drive.
Yup. No drive for physical media, just a hard drive — which would allow Microsoft to price the console as cheaply as possible. A price point of $200 (R2,800 or so) has been suggested, which isn’t much to ask for a current-generation console. Even if those consoles only have a couple of years left in their lifespans before something new comes along.
Sams doesn’t offer much backing for his claims (yet) but he does have details. Participating retailers — likely in the States only — will offer players the option to trade in physical games for a digital credit of sorts. This would port physical games to player accounts as downloads instead.
It’s a neat idea, one that would make switching over to a digital-only future a little easier. But a disc-less console would only be one of a range of options, according to the report. Players who prefer physical media will still have the option to keep their discs, with a stripped-back disc-capable Xbox One S variant also apparently on the cards for next year.
A disc-less Xbox One console isn’t completely unheard of. Industry talk has been predicting that future for a while and Microsoft is said to be working on a streaming device on those lines, codenamed Scarlett. Yanking the drive from an Xbox One S right now would serve multiple purposes for the company. The main one would be to test the waters for a drive-less Xbox One successor. It could also drive console sales, thanks to its cheaper price point. It might even form the basis of an Xbox Games Pass-powered console that could be expanded on later. Lastly, it would certainly curtail at least some of that pesky used games market.
Of course, those benefits only really suit a country where internet access is the norm rather than the exception. A disc-less Xbox One S probably wouldn’t be sold here in South Africa, at least at first. Not every local household can afford to download all 100GB of Red Dead Redemption 2 at any reasonable speed and game sizes aren’t getting any smaller. Even physical discs often result in huge patch downloads. We’re just not ready for a digital-only future. By the sound of it, Microsoft might be. At least partially.