Of all the new home consoles on the market, the Xbox One is arguably the most forward facing but, according to Microsoft Studios’ Phil Spencer, it could have been dramatically more forward facing. He is claiming that Microsoft came very close to creating a digital only Xbox One, before backlash against Microsoft’s DRM forced changes.
“There was a real discussion,” said Spencer, “about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console…”
Bandwidth issues in addition to the sheer size of modern AAA video games put the kibosh on that idea for now, but Spencer admits that the extreme negative reaction to an ‘always-online’ Xbox One played a large part in the decision to stick with discs for the foreseeable future.
“So 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,” explained Spencer. “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.”
This confirms for me that, in terms of how content is delivered to us, both the Xbox One and the PS4 are really transition consoles. Throughout the course of this current generation I expect more and more consumers to access content digitally. In fact, I expect that these consoles will be the last home consoles that use disc-based content.