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Microsoft may release a disc-less Xbox in 2019

Xbox One

A new report has been published from Thurrott that claims Microsoft are planning to release a disc-less Xbox One console in 2019. The rumor comes from an undisclosed source, and is interestingly not part of the rumored Scarlett family. For context, the Scarlett is the current codename for the new generation Xbox console that’s currently in development. This new digital-only variant will be an iteration of current hardware. So expect something like an Xbox One S with expanded storage options and better cooling. At least that’s my guess based on the increased room the lack of a disc drive creates.

This would also have the effect of significantly lowering the cost of entry to buying a new console, probably by $100 or more.

Another interesting twist in this story is that the inside source alleges that Microsoft is considering having no disc drives at all in their next generation of consoles. And apparently, this new variant is sort of a “dry run” for how that will play out. Although considering how drastically this would cut back on their potential userbase by alienating users without high-speed internet, or those under restrictive data caps, I can’t see Microsoft being that dumb. Although they only walked back the always-online DRM garbage from the Xbox One launch after massive fan backlash, it may take gamers making it very clear that they want disc drives in order for the company to notice

As someone on an internet plan with both mediocre speed and a very strict data cap, the lack of a disc drive would thoroughly destroy any hope of me getting a “Scarlett” personally. Not only because it takes hours or even days to download games, but also because I would very quickly rack up overage charges downloading more than one AAA release a month, when combined with the regular usage of my household. And judging by the fact that a significant amount of the US population is in a similar boat, I’d imagine Microsoft would have to be monumentally stupid to forego disc-based distribution.

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For frame of reference, many areas in the US are served by only a single broadband provider. More than 10 million US households have no access to wired Internet service with download speeds of at least 25Mbps, and an additional 46 million households live in areas with just one provider offering those speeds. And that’s without considering data caps. One of the largest providers, Comcast, offers a 1 TB data cap with a $10 per 50 GB overage charge. AT&T though, a huge monopoly in rural areas, enforces a 250 GB cap on it’s top end DSL connections, with $10 per 50 GB over as well.

The brand new disc-less Xbox One should be arriving in “the spring of 2019” which they heard was “the target as this device is well on its path to production.”

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