While Australia may fumble about in the digital dark ages, setting fire to forward-thinking broadband policy as if it were an onion-scoffing heretic, online connectivity in general has come a long way in the last five years, usurping industries once dominated by the physical. Why rent movies when there's Netflix? Why leave the house for a new game when Steam exists? It should come as no surprise, then, that Microsoft wants to release a new model of the Xbox One, sans disc drive.
The disc-less Xbox One should arrive sometime in 2019, according to sources that spoke to Thurrott's Brad Sams.
If you're wondering why Microsoft would bother with such a change for its current-gen console, it's almost purely to save costs:
Currently, it costs about [$US299] to buy into the Xbox One family of devices, Microsoft is looking to lower that price by possibly as much as [$US100]; the new console price point is expected to be [$US200] or less.
That said, it's suggested the model will serve to test the waters, to make sure a disc-less next-gen console isn't commercial suicide.
Going home earlier this week, my partner wanted to play Assassin's Creed: Origins. She'd been playing it for a few days - being a double history major, makes sense - and was just starting to get into a groove with the game.
A question you probably have — and I can tell you already it's a good one — is how Microsoft will manage the transition from physical to digital. The last thing you want is for mum and dad to pick up the latest Forza for little Astrid's birthday, only to find there's no way for Asterisk to play said game. I don't think any of us could stand a weeping Asteroid.
Fortunately, Sams says Microsoft "has you covered":
In addition to the new console, there will be a ‘disc-to-digital’ program that, as the name states, turns your physical games into digital downloads. The idea is that you can take your disc to a participating retailer (like the Microsoft store) and trade in your disc for a digital download.
Regardless of whether this disc-less Xbox One bombs or not, it'll be a great experiment, one I'm sure Sony and (to a lesser degree) Nintendo will watch eagerly from the sidelines.