Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No optical drive for nex-gen console?

Post contributed by Jamison Lanum -

  According to Shawn Knight, writer at techspot.com, Microsoft's next video game console may not support the world's most popular physical format:discs.
"Microsoft is reportedly telling partners that the next Xbox, tentatively dubbed the Xbox 720, will not include an optical disc drive. The briefings are said to be released under what one source claims is the strictest NDA they have ever encountered, according to an exclusive article from MCV."
While many have thought this would happen eventually, I don't think this shift was expected so soon. While this is still speculation at this point, I think it's important to take a look at a few issues that could arise if this is in fact true. Not having an optical drive presents many problems for the customer and may even drive some away. 
  • If there isn't an optical drive then games will have to be downloaded over the internet. This will require owners to also have a fast internet service. The only other option is to have a sort of download kiosk that gamers can go to with removable storage to download the games then take them back to their console. This does not sound like a solid alternative.
  • Even though 1TB drives are becoming more affordable, more storage would be needed if Microsoft kept storage local (in the device). The alternative would be to tap into the cloud. Companies Onlive and Gaikai have both proven the cloud can handle storage and also reduce the hardware requirements needed in the physical console. This, once again, would require the customer to have access to high-speed internet. In more rural parts of the country, customers would probably be out of luck. 
  • Backwards Compatibility - One thing gamers demand of consoles is the ability to play their older games on the newer one they just dropped a pretty penny on. With no optical drive, there is no feasible way to make this happen. I'm sure Microsoft and other companies would make older games available for download, but a price tag would certainly be attached. 
  • No Used Games - No physical copy of the game means you can't take it to a second-hand seller like GameStop and trade it in to get another game. No longer will these stores be able to offer customers slightly used games at discounted rates. Microsoft and others could develop a system where each game can exchange hands x-amount of times, but financially it doesn't make sense for them to do so. 
BJB - This is a continuing reflection of the continuing transition to online access for content (see prior post on streaming vs disc for movies).  Although I'll agree that it might be a bit early to drop drives and force users to go that route.
(I reformatted the above slightly).

Source -  Source claims Xbox 720 will ship without optical drive, Techspot


  1. Another reason I don't like this idea is because I can see accounts getting hacked and sensitive information getting stolen. Didn't that happen to Playstations a year or two ago. I like having disks because they are easy to access and have a safe feeling to me.

  2. Is there any possibility that it might up being cheaper for consumers in the ling run because Microsoft won't have to manufacture disks? I don't really know how much it costs to make one, but it might end up saving them some money. It also seems like it would be impossible to play dvd's or cd's, which could be an inconvenience as well.

  3. My real issue is that XBOX 360 as it currently operates works not only as a gaming device but also as a DVD player. Many people, myself included, use this entertainment system for that purpose as well. While netflix already offers an online streaming service, through XBOX Live, it is not the same as owning the physical DVD. Now consumers will be forced to use these types of services if they are to watch movies on their gaming devices. Overall, it just seems like a way for Microsoft to establish a business relationship with a company like netflix. Also, will they offer free online service? This is something that the PS3 already offers its users. If not, Microsoft will be forcing users to purchase online access to use the system at all.

  4. If someone from Microsoft really said that, it is probably they wanted to see how people would react. There are too many downsides to ignore. If they wanted to have a system that only plays downloaded games, it would have to be the system after this. That way they could make the games of the "xbox 720" downloadable only, but still allow people to play their 360 games. That way they could eventually release a system without an optical drive and not many people would complain because xbox 360 games would be old and not played very much.

  5. I agree with Ben. Xbox would need to have a transitional period with downloadable games AND a disk drive for Xbox 360 before flat out switching to just downloadable. As far as the downloadable aspect, it is cool because it would eliminate having to carry around multiple discs and what not, but as Jamison said in the article, having to wait for downloads would be a hassle, and would that mean you would have to pay for an Xbox Live account? That would be a yearly subscription that would be required. There definitely is a lot of details to be worked out.

    -David Comm

  6. At first, the idea of having online games available to you over the internet would be more beneficial. Having read this blog post, I now disagree. I believe it will cause more harm than planned. Not only is it unfair for those who do not have access to the internet or the internet might be too slow, but those who bought older games will be cheated. Currently gamers can use their old games on newer equipment, with the new technology, this would not be possible. Also, no one will be able to sell their equipment at second hand media stores because no one will want discs. I think Microsoft should stick with the disc format. It becomes too hard and too expensive for people to readjust to a new format.

  7. This was a step I expected, granted it is probably coming one concole generation sooner than what I had imagined. As far as the problems with internet speed goes, that is just the flow of technology. As new inventions come out, they fossilize the old ones. Look back to when the Sega Dreamcast and ps2 had their online capabilities. They had a phone jack for users who had dial-up internet. On today's systems, there is no way that dial-up would be able to handle online gaming. So this internet problem just means that people who want the system for online gaming will have to update.
    Also, while the hard drives will ultimately get larger, don't discount the idea of games being able to be saved online. This system would probably represent something similar to Google Cloud.