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Microsoft had 'real discussion' about disc-less Xbox One
Microsoft had 'real discussion' about disc-less Xbox One
January 2, 2014 | By Mike Rose

January 2, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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    17 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Following E3 2013, Microsoft shocked the industry by pulling a large-scale u-turn on its Xbox One DRM policy. In a new interview with OXM, Microsoft Studios general manager Phil Spencer has said that the idea of removing the disc drive completely was also discussed heavily as part of this reversal.

Spencer explained that a "purely disc-less console" concept was considered following the reaction to the Xbox One console after the initial announcement, and the E3 reaction.

"After the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change," Spencer noted. "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."

It was this potential issue with bandwidth available to consumers and large game downloads that eventually swayed Microsoft towards including a disc drive on the Xbox One, claims Spencer.

"We decided - which I think was the right decision - to go with the Blu-ray drive and give the people an easy way to install a lot of content," he added. "From some of those original thoughts, you saw a lot of us really focusing on the digital ecosystem you see on other devices - thinking of and building around that."

Of course, removing the disc drive would have made a lot more sense if the original "always-online" DRM features for the Xbox One were kept, since discs would have been essentially worthless without an activation code.


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Comments


Kujel s
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I would have been fine with a disk driveless console but I realize many would have had problems with that. Just as there are some major advantages, there are also some draw backs to an all digital console and bandwidth limits are a serious concern for many.

Greg Quinn
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This may have worked well for first-world countries where broadband and HD streaming is possible. But in many other countries bandwidth is still expensive, and extremely slow.

Perhaps the next generation of consoles will be disc-less :)
Although retail may very well have a problem with that and they may even boycott any disc-less console

E Zachary Knight
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"This may have worked well for first-world countries where broadband and HD streaming is possible. But in many other countries bandwidth is still expensive, and extremely slow. "

I wish the US was one of those first world countries. My internet sucks.

Harry Fields
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Well played, good sir.

Greg Quinn
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Just curious, what sort of upload and download speeds do you get in kb/s for it to suck?

Bob Philhower
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Maybe gaming would have worked well enough on a download-only console. (although people still point with pride to their shelves of game boxes) But, Microsoft has been positioning Xbox One as being an always-on total living room entertainment device. My family, at least, has a still-growing library of DVDs and BDs, even as we stream/download some entertainment content. Our old stand-alone DVD player hasn't been powered on in years, as we always pop the disk into a console.

Forcing the user to switch to another device to watch a DVD would go against the apparent goals of Xbox One, so I'm surprised a diskless-version was seriously considered at all.

Eric Gilbert
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I completely agree. Part of the value of the console is that the buyers are getting "two-for-one". Part of my purchasing decision is evaluating the price of of a DVD/BD player and a game console. With a console that can also be used as a DVD/BD player, I get to "save" that $50-$150 I would have spent on that separate player...which means the video game portion of the console costs less for me.

Any console without the ability to play DVD/BD is a no-go for me. Having the disk drive is a huge selling point and they would have shot themselves in the foot if they left it out.

Joe Zachery
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The collectors out there will still want their cases, and I can respect that. Still with the amount of money the used games market is making. I really doubt that the number of game collectors is as huge as it once were. A Digital only Xbox One would have been a great device. Transferring from app to Skype to games seamlessly would have been great.

Merc Hoffner
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I wonder how much industry push back they got from retail. Who would want to carry a box that does away with huge portions of their revenue streams? Retail may go away at some point (we're nearly in the matrix after all), but for the moment it's still a huge component of the industry, and will be for years to come. Even online retailers would have some serious reason to draw out the knives.

Michael Wenk
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There's lot of areas that don't have good broadband. Making it discless likely would have hurt em pretty bad.

Edgar Harris
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I've used the disc drive on my XBox One only one time, and that was just to make sure it worked. If MS could have offered an XBox One sku at $400 that didn't have a disc drive, I would have gone that route. Of course that's a pretty significant drop in price, and multiple sku's can create confusion. They probably made the right call here.

Ron Dippold
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Yeah, for OEM in volume it's more like $30 for a BD player (if that). Especially since they went with a cheap one that only works in one orientation. You can buy a consumer drive with the faceplate, cables, etc. etc. for $50 from Newegg. So no way would they let you have it for $400 if Kinect is still included.

Bob Johnson
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It just seems like whoever makes a disc-less console first is going to have an advantage because game distribution costs will be substantially lowered. On the other hand it certainly wouldn't take much for the competition to follow along. They have digital stores already. They have points cards in stores. They, as the article says, have considered disc-less consoles. ....

Rey Samonte
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Ouya? Perhaps they can study the pros and cons of the Ouya? Study how a purely digital console would perform. Granted, the Ouya isn't nearly as powerful as an Xbox One, but the idea they toyed around is very similar.

Alexander Womack
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By that standard, IOS and Android as a whole are much more data rich experiments in disc less systems.

E Zachary Knight
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Alexander,

Not really. iOS and Android are typically contained to phones so they would not be a one to one comparison. We would have to look at a game console to game console comparison to get an accurate picture.

Harry Fields
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Not surprised they considered it. Not surprised they didn't consider it for very long. I would've preferred the 30$ to be spent on more silicon or perhaps an additional 2-4 GB partition of GDDR5 coherent to GPU, DDR3, ESRAM, but what's already there is really nice. I think the CUs are fine, even though the mainstream game press latches on to that like they did the "bits" in the bit-wars and Vertex rate back in the triangle days of the PS1. It's a very optimal kind of config in the One. Aside from some driver quirks and other rushed launch issues, I think they've got a solid machine.

Now, they need to start working on ways to bring the cost down to 400. The APU should come down in cost a solid 40% over the next year. Commodity DDR3 is already pretty darn low, but as 2133 chips become the desktop mainstream, costs on the chips should drop a bit more. I think they could save some money on a redesigned cooling system. I know they want to avoid RROD, but their cooler is a bit overkill, really. And BDRom drives should drop another 10-15$ in the coming year.


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