It appears that Microsoft is planning to release the first major digital only home console. First reported by tech website Thurrott, Microsoft is set to release a version of the Xbox One with no disc drive at some point next year. To compensate for the lack of a disc drive in this new Xbox One, it is suggested Microsoft will start a “Disc to Digital” program. This program will allow players to trade in their physical Xbox One games for digital download codes of those games at specific retailers. However, at the moment, Microsoft has yet to comment or make an official announcement.
The major reason for this new disc-less Xbox One is to create a cheaper barrier to entry for the Xbox brand. Currently, a new console will cost consumers $299 to own while this new disc-less version would cost $200 or even less. The article also suggests that the company is planning to release a revised Xbox One S SKU at a cheaper cost as well, but this version will still contain a disc drive. This revised Xbox One S is apparently set for a late 2019 release.
A digital only console does seem to make sense for Microsoft to release. The company has pushed their game downloading subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, hard since its release in 2017, and, earlier this year, started to bring all Microsoft first party titles to the service day and date of release. At the recent X018 event, Microsoft started to sell the first month of Xbox Game Pass for $1 for new customers, and announced 16 new games coming to the service. Last month, Microsoft also announced Project xCloud, a new streaming service that will allow Xbox games to be played on any device.
The article also stated that Microsoft has yet to decide if their next generation console, codenamed Scarlett, will feature a disc drive or not. However, the article state that the next-gen console is set for a 2020 release. With this new possible disc-less Xbox One, Project xCloud, Xbox Scarlett, and the company’s acquisition of new studios at E3 and X018, Microsoft seems to be set up for the next coming years.