Microsoft Could Launch A Cheaper Disc-Less Xbox One Next Year

Xbox Controller
It has already been established that the Xbox One X is not the end of the road for Microsoft's efforts in the console space, and that future models will be released. Take it from Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who indicated at E3 earlier this year that he is "very excited" about the future of Xbox. What comes next, however, might be a break from tradition—there is chatter of a disc-less game system being in the works.

This is not the first time the topic of a disc-less Xbox console has come up. Spencer said in 2014 that there were internal discussions about ditching the disc drive on the Xbox One prior to its launch, but that those plans were ultimately scrapped.

"After the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change," Phil Spencer said in an interview with OXM. "There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues."

In the end, Microsoft (wisely) decided to forge ahead with a Blu-ray drive, a decision that plays into the company's efforts to pitch the Xbox One as a flexible media hub, and not just a game console. Now four years later, there is talk of Microsoft still releasing a disc-less version at a cheaper price tag.

People who are supposedly familiar with Microsoft's plans told Thurrott that this upcoming console will not be part of the Scarlett family, which is the codename for the company's next-generation of Xbox consoles slated to arrive in 2020. The disc-less model will come first.

The primary reason for a disc-less variant is to offer an Xbox console at a cheaper price, perhaps selling it for $100 less than a base Xbox One system. Microsoft will also be debuting a disc-to-digital program that turns physical games into digital downloads, the sources added.

Other than the lower cost of entry, one reason this could work is because it's not a new path for the Xbox family at large, but a branch with lower hanging fruit. If Microsoft had ideas of ditching the disc drive on its Scarlett systems, it would represent a much bigger gamble, but that is not the case. Spencer himself even recently said that streaming is still "years and years" away.