No Optical Media For Next Xbox

I still refuse to call it the Xbox 720, despite all encouragement to the opposite. Until it’s officially named, I’m sticking to my NextBox label.

Anyway, there’s been some big news land under a nice juicy “EXCLUSIVE” headline over on MCV.

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[drop2]According to their sources, which are not named or directly quoted, Microsoft’s next hardware release in the Xbox family won’t have a disc drive.

Apparently, Microsoft has signed up some of its most trusted developers to a super-strict non disclosure agreement (obviously not strict enough…) but the information has been issued in briefings.

MCV says that although there won’t be an optical media drive, there will be some allowance for flash storage so there is still potential that games could be sold on some kind of memory card as well as solely by download.

As pointed out by the trade magazine’s esteemed editor, Ben Parfitt, this will be a bit of a blow to beleaguered high street retailers. Although GAME Group reports an increase in profit from pre-paid cards, the abolition of disc-based software is likely to have serious consequences at retail.

Of course, they might be going back to cartridges. We can’t wait to blow into the bottom of Elder Scrolls VI in an effort to fix our glitching sidequests.

Perhaps more interesting is the news that a 2013 release date for the new console has been “confirmed” by MCV’s sources. That gives further credence to the chances of an E3 2012 announcement, although no reveal schedule has been discussed.

Source: MCV

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74 Comments

  1. Would be very surprised if this is true, would put a lot of traditional gamers who still swear by physical media right off, myself included

    • And also no back-compatibility with old 360 games

      • Yeah, surely a major selling point of a new console especially since it was so easy for Microsoft to do it with the 360 (compared to the mess Sony made of it!)

    • Very true, but when push comes to shove and the console is released it will be bought anyway and accepted, thus making it standard, and in a few years time no one will mind at all.

      With so few competitors in the console wars consumers are left with little choice but to accept what the manufacturers decide, if they want to be able to play the games that is.

      • all very true

      • True if all the platform holders adopt this approach, but it only takes one decent competitor offering optical media/allowing preowned games to cause people to migrate.

      • Wow – So you just accept what is put in front of you with no quibbles whatsoever?

        Put simply, for me, if this becomes the only option, it will not be an option. I refuse to follow the crowd just because everyone else does, especially when it impacts on how i live my life & the choices i make.

    • The two biggest requirements that piss me off. Physical media, and backwards compatible. If its not backwards compatible, keep your 360. If you’re going to be put off of a console just because it doesn’t require a physical disc (you know, the discs we use today that are looked at as just that, discs, and not fairy dust), then I suggest you should just make it a damn fetish already.

      Its obvious there is now going to be a huge outcry over my comment by some individuals, and thats okay, because this is just my opinion. I just don’t get the need-no… the “ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE REQUIREMENTS BEING PHYSICAL MEDIA AND BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE (because if one of those isn’t included, then the world ends)” for any of these. Sure, you may be a collector, but you will soon get over it. I’ve seen comments by people saying how they would give up on gaming in the future if there were non of the features above included.

      Its overreacting, its ridiculous, its pathetic.

      • How is it ‘overreacting’, ‘ridiculous’, or ‘pathetic’ when it is my choice?

        I like disc based media as i like to feel that i have actually gotten something physical for my purchase that can’t simply & suddenly disappear from a dowload queue for no reason, plus i tend to trade a lot. Both valid reasons for wanting discs.

        Plus i tend to find that my disc based games get played a hell of a lot more than anything downloaded from the store & PSN purchases are often wholly forgoten about a few days after i have bought them.

        You make a big thing about people reacting to your opinion, but others can’t have theirs?

        Yeah, that works.

      • @Forrest_01
        It is, because as I said before, it was all in my opinion…

        You’re in the minority with this, and thats the problem. There are plenty of people out there who, once they are done playing with their games, will throw them into a cupboard or just get rid of them. There’s not much difference between that, and just “forgetting” about your downloads. You don’t play your downloaded games as much? Is that a valid argument? Neither did I when I had a PS3. But thats because I was more interested in playing GT 5 rather than playing mini games like Flower…

        I respect other peoples opinions on the physical media, but it is indeed overreacting, ridiculous and pathetic if people start making it out like its a big reason not to get the next console.

        Why don’t you look at the positives for once on download only? No retail packaging, physical manuals, etc = a potentially cheaper price for games. Your games won’t get broken. You won’t lose them, either (I’m sure some system will be in place if something happened to your console in order to get your games back, though).

        But nope. People won’t think of the positives. They will think of the negative aspects of it all. Afterall, nobody likes change. People were this depressed when the youtube layout was changed back in 2009, and threatened to quit the website altogether. What happened? The new layout was forced, and the people forgot about it all and stayed on youtube. Its no happening again, too. A new layout has just come, people are angry and threatening to leave youtube, but after a month or so, it will all just blow over, and people will be staying on again.

        That was just an example of how people don’t like change. Whether this sounds harsh or not, downloading/streaming is quite possibly the future. Get used to it.

      • Maybe it is your opinion, but that gives you no right to belittle the opinion of others just because it doesn’t agree with your vision of ‘the future’.

        You ask whether my not playing downloads as much as boxed games is a valid argument & then go on to say that you have done the very same thing. We’ll not go into that here though.

        For me if disc based media didn’t exist in the next gen, then i wouldn’t bother. For the reasons that i gave previously & really cannot be bothered to repeat. That’s fine though, i’ll just look at it as retirement. Maybe it’s about time – Clearly my withered & aged brain cannot handle the surge in technology that your future holds.

        Also, the ‘positives’ that you list are very much negatives for me, as i actually like physical packaging, artwork & the odd collectors edition. New game smell comes from the booklets, so they would also be greatly missed by me. I have never broken a game to date (is this a complaint held by many?) & i am yet to see a downloadable title that is actually cheaper than its disc based counterpart.

        Oh & i really couldn’t give a toss about youtube one way or the other. As long as it continues to serve its purpose, i really don’t see why it matters what the hell it looks like. The end product hasn’t changed in any way, which is why this example is slightly flawed with regards to what we are talking about.

        & no-one said you coulnd’t have an opinion, i am just a bit taken aback that you would choose to attack the opinion of others (who also have a right to one).

      • Its not valid. But since you used it, I gave an example back. Is it so wrong just to prove a point?

        Well thats fine, with you, ehem, “retiring from gaming” and all, but what about the younger people? I’m not talking 8-12 year old’s (well, yeah, include them if you must). I’m talking mainly about the 18-28 year old’s that aren’t using “retirement” as an excuse.

        Again, you are in the minority in this. Yes, the smell of a new game is a small plus. But do you honestly think that plays a major role? God forbid the day arrives where we are forced to play downloaded titles, and can no longer smell our games. Goodbye cruel world…

        Broken games can be common. I too have never broken a game in my life but that doesn’t excuse the majority of people who may have lost a game, who may have scratched a disc, who may have had their own CONSOLES scratch their discs, where they may have had accidental damage done, etc. Not a lot of people keep their games squeaky clean. A big audience in gaming is kids. Not all of them are exactly careful with their games like you and me. People like us are in a minority.

        Have you checked out Steam? Or Onlive? Both of their library of games are very cheap, and have loads of offers. PSN and LIVE don’t really do much of this, with what titles they have that also have physical counterparts, mind you.

        I used youtube as an example. You may not have given a toss, but it seemed like the whole community was up in arms over it. Me, personally, I couldn’t care less, as I was telling them all the exact same thing I am telling you. You will get used to it.

        Quote: “The end product hasn’t changed in any way, which is why this example is slightly flawed with regards to what we are talking about.”
        – The end product of a console won’t have changed in anyway, neither. You will still be playing video games… and thats what it is all about. The main aspect of a console is to play video games. Not to store your games on a shelf in a neat pile, or to have the feel of a disc, or even to smell them from new…

        Hey, if the mega-movie fans have enticed services like NETFLIX, then maybe there is still hope for people like you.

      • With all this said, however, the gaming world may not even go the download route. My guess is it will, but the second choice (my personal favourite because I’m a nostalgic guy) would be a return to cartridge-based gaming. Like the N64’s cartridges, only smaller.

    • Cons:

      No trade-ins or secondhand games
      No lending of games to friends
      No Xbox backwards compatibility
      No Blu-Ray or DVD movie playback.

      Of course all these suit Microsoft just fine, they can made money off all these consumer downsides.

      Pros:

      No Xbox DVD scratching.

  2. does this mean cheaper games due to no packaging manuals etc?
    i’m all for ripping my games to my hard drive but at least i still have the disc to hand.

    • In theory – yes. In reality – hell no

    • If it’s download only, then expect to be paying much more on average than you are now. If games can still be bought from retail then we’ll thankfully still have competitive pricing.

      Of course the console manufacturers could open up avenues for independent download services to provide purchasing options such as on the PC with all the legit download services available.

  3. terrible idea.

    • Couldnt agree more. This will put so many people off imo

  4. I guess we will just have to wait and see… Meanwhile I’m going to go buy a PSPGo.

    • I was tempted, aren’t they like £49 at GAME today?

      • They are but I was joking. I wouldn’t even have a free one (other than to sell it to the next chump). A regular PSP with a massive back-catalogue of cheap UMD based games, hackable emulator addition… Now you’re talking.

      • Oops, lol! I’m not a fan of digital media really, I like to hold something I’ve bought, but for 50 quid I did consider it. But thinking about it I don’t actually have any downloaded PSP games and only a couple of PSOne downloaded games so it would be pointless. I’m just a sucker for new toys.

  5. My money’s on a return to N64-style cartridges, at £64.99, just like the good old days. That said, I’m a terrible gambler.

    • Or proprietary SD Card, that may even work in other devices?

    • I want cartridges back!

  6. Good move if true IMO

    People will still believe the boxed £40/$60 retail model isn’t dying a death, but it’s been declining massively for years.

    The only downside is lack of competition as there’s only 1 place you can buy stuff from.

    Lack of DVD/Blu-ray movie playback isn’t an issue as Microsoft’s digital movie distribution over Xbox appears to actually be being used.

    Thoughts I had was how deeply (if at all) Win8, or its behaviors & APIs would be integrated, if its there then I’m sure crossplay between console, PC, tablet & phone will be possible and that would be very interesting indeed.

    As for Broadband adoption, pretty sure most of their demographic is capable but as we’re talking a year or two & then the life of the product it won’t be a problem

    • Cant say Id fancy downloading 25gb+ games on my current connection – its tedious enough waiting for a 2gb title to download

      • Why would you have to download a 25GB game?

        The only reason they’re that big is because the audio is uncompressed and eats the GBs and that the PS3s Blu-ray drive was barely fit for purpose at launch, never-mind now and textures either have to be replicated all over the disc (filling it up) or they need installing which is 1-4GB normally

        Just for example we heard how LBP filled up most of a Blu-ray which means it was either nearly 25GB or 50GB depending on whether it was dual layer or not, when this released digitally it was 2GB, therefore it was bloated because of the Blu-ray format, not because the game was actually that big

        Conversely we hear how devs need more space than is available on Microsoft’s 6.8GB disc format, perhaps we have to look at PC games for how big should be that way we remove the inefficiencies of the PS3’s Blu-ray drive and games are obviously a couple of hundred MB up to 10-12GB as a download, which then unpack/uncompress to larger than that.

      • So you’re implying that every single game that has made use of the extra storage space of media such as blu-ray is just doing so the make up for the shortcomings of the format and not to provide additional content?

        I find that extremely unlikely and it certainly doesnt explain the complaints of developers who have had to cut content due to the constraints of dvd – Capcom when developing Lost Planet 2 for example.

        Also, any game that currently comes in at 2-4 disks is going to clock in at around the 14-28gb mark.

        With regards to your point about broadband speeds – things probably will be better here in the next few years but thats a big gamble to take.

    • I may not be an issue to Microsoft, but it will to their consumers…

  7. “this will be a bit of a blow to beleaguered high street retailers”

    I wouldn’t worry about that.

    • Meow! :)

    • In the UK … Gamestop seems to be performing pretty well in the US.

  8. Nah can’t see it happen this next generation, the one after that will probably be full digital doh.

  9. Awful decision if it turns out to be true.

  10. Microsoft’s seeming ambition to build an entertainment hub instead of a simple games console would seem to fly in the face of this. As popular as digital platforms are for video consumption, DVD and to a lesser degree Blu-ray are still streets ahead in popularity and to cut out that market seems folly.

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