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Microsoft unveils disc-less Xbox as PS5 doubles down on physical media

Image credit: microsoft

Microsoft has unveiled a cheaper version of the Xbox One that omits the disc drive, prompting users to download all their games directly from the Microsoft store.

When the console was originally revealed in 2013, it caused controversy after it was revealed that it would need to be connected to the internet once every 24 hours to allow games to be played. In addition, games purchased on disc were to include an individual licence that would thereafter be linked to a Microsoft account, prohibiting the lending of discs to others.

The subsequent backlash among gamers caused Microsoft to abandon the plans and go down a more traditional route, but after six years, its “disc-free” Xbox may be better received as people get used to the idea of digital-only platforms.

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will enable gamers to store digital versions of games in the cloud, as well as pre-order and pre-install upcoming games so they are ready to play as soon as they launch.

The console will go on sale on 7 May at £200: cheaper than a console with a disc drive.

It will come with three games - Minecraft, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 3 - pre-installed on it, as well as one terabyte of storage.

Xbox’s general manager of platform and devices marketing Jeff Gattis said the firm had seen a noticeable shift away from physical disc use.

“Consumer appetite for digital content and experiences are stronger today than ever before. Gaming and technology have changed quite a bit since the first Xbox debuted in 2001,” he said. “During this time, we’ve seen a digital transformation across gaming, music, TV and movies. And, closer to home, the success of Xbox Game Pass, which gives members access to over 100 great games, is just another example of how consumers today have grown to expect great digital content.

“The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition was created for those who prefer to find and play their games digitally and are looking for the most affordable way to play Xbox games.”

Xbox is currently also developing a video game streaming service. Called xCloud, the service would allow gamers to play console-quality Xbox games on any device - including smartphones.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Wired, Sony’s lead system architect Mark Cerny confirmed that the company’s next games console (presumably the PS5) would include a disc drive and will not be digital-only.

Cerny also said the console will not be released in 2019 and that users can expect “dramatically different” 3D audio on the next-gen console, as well as support for 8K graphics with the help of ray-tracing technology: a complex lighting technique. The video game designer said the new console will still have a disc drive and is “based in part on the PS4’s architecture”, making backwards compatibility possible, a feature requested by many gamers who want to play their old titles on the newest hardware.

The console has been in development for more than four years, he told the publication, and the company is already working with several studios on games, which will probably be available on both PS4 and PS5 initially.

He remained unclear about the possibility of cloud gaming, saying: “We are cloud-gaming pioneers, and our vision should become clear as we head towards launch.”

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