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.
(I reformatted the above slightly).
Source - Source claims Xbox 720 will ship without optical drive, Techspot