Microsoft considered disc-free Xbox One as late as mid-2013

Microsoft logoIn the midst of Microsofts on-again, off-again positions regarding online requirements and used game restrictions for the Xbox One over the first half of 2013, the company was apparently also seriously considering simply doing away with the disc drive on the system. Thats according to Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer, who tells the UKs Official Xbox Magazine that a "purely disc-less console was under consideration at the company in mid-2013, even after Sony handily trounced Microsoft at that years E3 unveilings.

"Obviously, after the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change," Spencer told the magazine. "There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues.

Indeed, average download times for full-sized games on the Blu-ray equipped PS3 have been rising steadily for years according to an Ars Technica analysis, and disc-eschewing players on the Xbox One and PS4 are regularly staring down downloads of dozens of gigabytes before they can play. Thats not even mentioning the small but extant segment of the gaming market that still doesnt have access to broadband Internet at all.

Microsoft Xbox One

Still, broadband is getting faster and more ubiquitous all the time, and it's not impossible to envision a not-too-distant future where games distributed on physical media are seen as an anachronism. Microsofts Yusuf Mehdi made a version of this argument in an interview with Ars last June, saying that a disc-free licensing system would be "easier to understand for consumers. Mehdi said at the time that the companys initial licensing system was an effort to bring to consoles the kind of disc-free gaming world already available on mobile platforms and, increasingly, on the PC. As Spencer said, "From some of those original thoughts, you saw a lot of us really focusing on the digital ecosystem you see on other devicesthinking of and building around that."

Sony reportedly considered a disc-free version of the PlayStation 4 but rejected the plan early in the consoles development. Interestingly, that mid-2012 Wall Street Journal report also cites unnamed sources at Microsoft confirming that the Xbox One would include a disc drive; Spencers new statement indicates that internal discussions on the issue were going on much longer than that.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: game consoles, Microsoft, Xbox One

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