Late last night a rumor started floating around that the next Xbox would not have a disc drive. Instead, games would be digitally downloaded, or would be available on a solid state interchangeable card/drive. I was about a minute from posting this rumor, when I sat back and thoroughly thought about this idea for a minute. The idea of the Next Xbox not having a disc tray is absolutely ridiculous.
There are many flaws with this logic. Now I am not saying that this will not happen. What I am saying is that if Microsoft wants to keep a lot of Xbox 360 fans content, then Xbox 720 will undeniably have a disc drive.
Let’s take a look at the big plus for Microsoft in this rumor. No disc drive means less chance for piracy, which is without a doubt is a marvellous thing. The Xbox 360 is one of the easiest systems to hack. Since it uses standard dual layer DVD’s, which are available at most large chain stores, a simple DVD drive hack is all that is required to make your Xbox 360 play burned games. It is something Microsoft has tried battling, but hackers always find a way to burn their games, and flash their consoles. If Microsoft pulled the tray from the Xbox 720 altogether, then it eliminates being able to burn games, and being able to flash a console. Piracy will always find its’ way to a console, but by not using commonly found items it will make it more difficult for hackers to crack the code.
Other than piracy, I do not see any other real advantage.
Solid state memory is extremely costly. While prices have come down quite a bit over the past few years, the amount of money for a decent size solid state drive is high. A 128 GB SATA III drive is on average about $120 with a good sale, and after rebates.
There is no reason for Microsoft to use the latest and greatest solid state technology. A device that could transfer speeds as fast as SATA II drives would be more than sufficient for a console, and would provide more than enough speed for reading the games stored on them. Even still, the price to manufacture the rumored cards cannot be cheap compared to manufacturing a Blu Ray or proprietary disc.
Also, when you look at Microsoft striving to be the center of your living room, the idea of not having a Blu Ray drive seems highly improbable. Yes, Microsoft would have to pay Sony a licensing fee, which is kind of humorous to me, but the fact is a lot of consumers do not like digital media yet. A majority of consumers like the idea of having physical media, and Blu Ray’s are selling quite well. DVD’s still sell millions of units every year, and if I bought a brand new Xbox 720 that couldn’t even play a DVD, I would be more than displeased.
Even looking past the solid state cards and Blu Ray playback, there is one humongous factor that makes this rumor seem illogical to me, backwards compatibility.
No disc drive means no Halo 4 on the Xbox 720. I guess Microsoft could create a transfer program for consumers that own 360 titles, but transferring all of your 360 library would be a licensing nightmare. If you ever had to transfer your license to a new 360, then you know how much of a pain it can be. Backwards compatibility will undoubtedly be something Microsoft needs in their next console. The library of games for the 360 is growing, and it is packed with tons of games that deserve the title instant classic.
Backward compatibility is a strange subject this generation. Nintendo is fully onboard for Gamecube games on the Wii, and the Wii U is fully backward compatible with the Wii library. The Playstation 3 has not been able to play PS2 games for a majority of its life, and the Playstation 4 will most likely not be backwards compatible. Then you have the Xbox 360 which is backwards compatible, but only with certain titles with emulation software.
Some people genuinely care about being able to play their old library of games, and some do not. The argument usually breaks down to, just keep your old system, and I don’t need to have 6 consoles hooked up to 1 TV to play my games.
I find this rumor to be truly strange, especially since Microsoft went out of their way to include backwards compatibility in the Xbox 360. The original Xbox ran off a Nvida chipset, and the Xbox 360 off an AMD/ATI chipset. Microsoft had to develop emulation software, which obviously took a lot of time and money.
After all of the rumors of the next Xbox, the features on the system are truly in the air. Microsoft could remove the drive all together, and have some elaborate scheme to get the 360 library on the Xbox 720. Personally, I just find the rumor to be very farfetched given the way the industry looks at the moment.
I agree that the Ideology behind the no disc era is bizarre. However they have already invested money into making games available through download. You can even save games to Cloud. I doubt we would fall back on memory cards given the hard drive size capability. I could see Microsoft pushing the games on demand more through advertisement and limited disc sales. This is a long shot and I think the rumors behind this are far from true. Microsoft even released a statement saying it was looking for new ways to bring better experiences to the gamer, but not through the means hinted at by MCV.