EXCLUSIVE: No disc drive for Next Xbox

Ben Parfitt
EXCLUSIVE: No disc drive for Next Xbox

MCV has learnt that Microsoft has been telling partners that the Next Xbox will NOT include a disc drive.

The briefings have been issued under what MCV’s source describes as “the strictest NDA” they have ever encountered.

Although the console will not include a disc drive, it will offer compatibility with some sort of interchangeable solid-state card storage, although it is not known whether this will be proprietary or a more standard format such as SD.

Furthermore, a 2013 launch date for the hardware has been confirmed. What is less clear, however, is the intended timing of Microsoft’s announcement.

As revealed by MCV earlier this year, an E3 2012 reveal could still very much be on the cards.

The omission of a disc drive signifies the beginning of a new era for games consoles and represents a potentially savage blow to the already beleaguered video games retail sector.

Of course, retailers will tell you that they are already involved in the digital market. Indeed, GAME is enjoying growing revenue from the sale of digital download cards for digital-only titles and DLC.

Nonetheless, the abolition of physical games is bad news for retail however it is spun. With the Next Xbox positioned as a digital centric platform, the relevance of retail will once once again eroded.

When contacted by MCV Microsoft said that it does not comment on rumour and speculation.

UPDATE: Microsoft has issued a fuller statement to MCV.

“Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend its lifecycle like introducing the world to controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention. Beyond that we do not comment on rumors or speculation.”

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Tags: Microsoft , new , Digital , Xbox , nda , physical , Next Xbox , disc drive

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11 comments

Definitely interesting. Perhaps stores might be relied upon to provide access to a device which already has the game downloaded, thereby negating the issue of download times. Could be very interesting, and a lifeline for retailers - especially as it would reduce the issue of trade credit, and distribution costs if it is only making digital copies onto special solid state storage cards.

However, my main concern is if it doesn't rely on retail, then what happens to markets where Microsoft enjoys strong sales, but still doesn't provide official support for Xbox Live, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, despite promising to do so for many years now.

Ben Furfie

Ben Furfie INDUSTRY
Mar 9th 2012 at 9:41AM

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I see this, in the short term, as a bad choice for microsoft. You can't argue that a discless future for games consoles is definetely on the cards. But if microsoft are expected to release games that are above the calibre of the current generation (which would be expected of a next-gen console), i can't see it taking off in the current internet-only infastructure currently in the UK and parts of America. To download an 8 gig game, it would take me around 2 hours and a half on my current broadband speed, a friend of mine lives in an area where high speed broadband is still not rolled out, this would take him a lot longer.

I do not see people buying a console that they know their current internet speeds do not support. Will you spend several hours downloading Mass Effect 4 or the next Final Fantasy (which managed to fill up a blu ray).

To note also, with this news, the system will not play blu-ray or dvd's - limiting the aspect of a multi-purpose entertainment system.

Scott Davis

Scott Davis ELITE GAMER
Mar 9th 2012 at 10:24AM

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Also runs into problems with forcing people online - i'm sure Sony will attest to the nightmare of convincing people that Lulzsec/Anonymous/random basement goblin doesn't have their credit card details! Besides, in the UK where we still have antiquated internet capabilities in much of the country (both speed & ethos - i.e. download limits) it essentially makes it very difficult to offer a consistent experience. I know living where i do it'd take the best part of a day to download any game - that's not really acceptable and would force me to consider my continued usage of the Xbox brand.

Anyway, it's all rumour & speculation, until E3 at the earliest there'll be little or no confirmed details.

Allan Mounce

Allan Mounce ELITE GAMER
Mar 9th 2012 at 10:46AM

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Retail stores could thrive with this, especially in areas with average internet speeds.
Imagine taking an SSD like device into a game store and having the game copied onto the device whilst you pay.
No more "we don't have the room to stock everything", because everything is digital.
In theory it would take less than 2 minutes to copy a full dual layer BluRay across, it'd be no more hassle at peak times than waiting for a coffee.
Want to buy from an online retailer? No problem, they could "rent" you one of these devices or you mail yours in prior to a games release date.

No one said anything about download only, besides that mainly how PC gamers have been doing it for years.

Phil Evans

Phil Evans ELITE GAMER
Mar 9th 2012 at 11:13AM

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...but could have external disc drive as a peripheral?

Nick Parker

Nick Parker INDUSTRY
Mar 9th 2012 at 11:51AM

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No physical media == do not want.

Marty Sheen

Marty Sheen STUDENT
Mar 9th 2012 at 12:58PM

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The uprising of rage among the community is obviously just the 'online mentality' of bringing out the picket sticks on change. Change is happening under our noses.

Let's face it. The whole industry is going digital if we like it or not. That fact that it would require a company like Microsoft to push this on the home console market is what it takes for the masses to 'accept' that it is the only to get your games. This obviously favours everyone in the industry, including retail, to a certain extent. But that doesn't mean everyone's going to be happy about it.

As Mr Evans has rightly point out, stores won't need a warehouse to store stock, which decreases their rent and operation costs. It also means that there are no logistics to worry about and no restocking issue because it's the weekend. However, download a game via removable storage? No. More than likely, retailers would give you a keycode (think Xbox Live membership redemption cards) or an association with your gamertag when purchasing a software title. Removal of pre-owned? Very likely on the software side but very much alive and kicking for hardware and accessories. Microsoft will still need to rely on retail to sell their hardware, accessories and redemption cards for them.

As for Microsoft and the publishers, well, it ticks all the boxes on what they want to achieve. Moving towards the Apple/Valve style system would not only remove the manufacturing process for software but also allows them to see the buying habits and statistics for each Xbox user. They are already doing this with the Xbox Live Arcade and other digital assets, the final bit of their puzzle is their main staple. Entertainement? They already have their digital platform. Together with the likes of their content providing partners, like HBO, NetFlicks, etc, that's a no brainer.

For developers, they can now develop games and be able to 'patch' issues as and when, just like PC/Mac/App games. No more 'can't do cross platform excuses'. Large file downloads? Adopt the TellTale-esq system - Purchase games is modules - Single Player, Multiplayer, DLC. Most people who play Call of Duty, just play the multiplayer side and nothing else. Price it accordingly like £19.99. You should be able to effectively increase sales, plus get statistics on who buys what and when.

Concerned about credit/debit card details? That's what the retailers are for. Redemption cards are the way to go, being able to pay cash to a retailer to get your code for membership, currency, or games is something that won't go away.

Low internet speeds? The infrustructure in the UK is slowly be upgraded so all the internal copper cabling between telecommunication centres and street cabinets (FTTC) are fibre. Soon, everyone will have up to 40Mbit download speeds and if one is willing to pay for it, up to 1000 Mbit for those who are fully fibre'd up. Even then, Microsoft has the 'background download' so your machine will still be on in 'standby mode' downloading what you have purchased.

This doesn't deter the underground community in 'jailbreaking' the console, just like what they are doing with the Apple products. Until there is no physical download within the chain, there will still be 'pirates' breaking DRM and passing it on.

The one thing that everyone SHOULD look out for is when the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo start going down the Gaikai/OnLive route. Now THAT'S the evolution to home console gaming...

Steven Tu

Steven Tu INDUSTRY
Mar 9th 2012 at 12:58PM

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I think you will find it more likely that microsoft is making a budget version of the 360 with no optical media drive and kinec built in for sale at the sub £100 mark, at least thats makes more sense and kind of fits with the statement issued by Microsoft. I would expect a machine like this to encourage Digital development and distribution on the Xbox,softening users up for a possible 100% digital device.

I would add that it very hard to imagin a console that has just had its biggest release since gears of war 3 (mass effect 3) and it is only available for Digital download from day one on playstation. I dont see this as a sign of a company gearing up for a 100% move to digital.

Allen Smith

Allen Smith STUDENT
Mar 9th 2012 at 1:17PM

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This a very bad idea! Anyone played an older p3 game lately where you just sit there for hours waiting for updates to download? Its stopped me playing it!

To make all game playing like this would the greatest plunder even more so than their current choice in graphics (vintage AMD 6450) .

Rod Smith

Rod Smith INDUSTRY
Mar 9th 2012 at 1:36PM

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Actually the installation process on some games has properly put me off them with PS3 - if i want to spend 20+ minutes installing it, i'll play a PC game! (ah memories of nerdraging which waiting to play MGS4)

Allan Mounce

Allan Mounce ELITE GAMER
Mar 9th 2012 at 2:01PM

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Change? CHANGE!

BURN THEM AND POKE THEM WITH A POINTY STICK!

The industry is growing up, such a pity that so many of its customers are not...

Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown INDUSTRY
Mar 9th 2012 at 3:34PM

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