Next Generation Xbox to not Include Disk Drive

Rumors are resurfacing that the Next Generation of Xbox gaming will not have a disk drive. MCV is reporting that Microsoft is giving developers the heads up that they may not need to put their future works of art what is slowly becoming the next dying media: the compact disk. This presents a challenge to the way that we have been gaming for nearly the past 20 years. If it is decided that all future content may only be procured via an internet connection, trips to game stop could disappear all together. While this seems to be a deal breaker for future game shops and game delivery services, and not so much for the casual consumer, it is; the concept of swapping and borrowing games, a tradition as old has the Atari 2600, would disappear all together. The Xbox 360 is very good at downloading games and content from the internet and we expect the next system to be even more proficient. We run into trouble really quickly when we begin downloading games like RAGE, which requires about 25 GB of hard drive space. If nextbox plans to house a solid state hard drive, adequate hard drive space will be very expensive, even a year from now. Speaking of RAGE, a current Xbox generation video game, the lack of a disk drive will make playing your old Xbox 360 games a bit of a challenge as well. I don’t believe that complete non-backwards-compatibility would cause riots on the street, but requiring a purchase and download of a game that one already owns will be very frustrating to gamers who love their current collection of video games. Building the next generation of Xbox gaming doesn’t have to forego tangible media all together even if it doesn’t have a disk drive. USB or SD/Micro SD would also serve as the perfect way to preserve all the aspects of disk gaming that we’ve enjoyed for the past several years. The idea of downloading a game or picking up an SD card at your local store does give some promise that the cost of video games will decrease due to such advances. Because you’d need less packaging, or even no packaging at all, producing and distributing games would be quite a bit cheaper. However, I do not see anyone lowering the $60 standard set by the current generation of games. Where additional profit is available, additional profit will be earned.

Lacking a disk drive has impacts more far reaching than the video game market. Those looking forward to a blu-ray xbox will again be sadly disappointed and many may look toward other consoles like the PlayStation, which has kept a solid track record of keeping up with media demands of the consumer. The people who do stick with the Xbox and wish to have the Blu-Ray expereince will have a different predicament: overheating. Now this may get a little abstract here, so stick with me. Those who have been holding off to buy a Blu-ray player because they are still pretty pricey will be disappointed and eventually go out and buy one. Every year they get a bit cheaper, and a bit smaller. By the time they are cheap enough to become a part of 99% of households, they should be quite tiny. Tiny is not a feature that is commonly found in new Xboxes, a trend that began at its inception. This means, for the casual player who does not devote much space to gaming will rest their Blu- Ray player on top of their new Xbox because such an arrangement is more aesthetically pleasing. While Microsoft has become rather good at repairing and preventing such overheating, they shouldn’t let their guard down. There should be additional precautions taken with its design to ensure that the red ringed tragedy is a ghost of Xbox past and that the nextbox will not overheat no matter how the gamer decides to store it.

One simple solution may actually come from the portable PC market. Many laptop manufactures have begun making full sized laptops without disk drives. Thanks to the iPad, actual computer manufacturers have found themselves scrambling to create devices that are even more portable than before to stay competitive in what is becoming a fracturing consumer base and leaving out some hardware to save space is becoming the norm. If one were to buy a Windows 7 ultra-portable notebook, one without a disk drive, it would quickly become evident that simple tasks such as upgrading the PC or playing memory intense games would be very difficult. The solution, however, is very easily solvable with an external USB disk drive. These have become relatively cheap and compact so stowing them in a computer bag or hiding them in a drawer in your desk is not such a problem. While an Xbox, nearly a PC itself, could have all of these previous problems remedied with the addition an external disk drive of its own. Following past trends however, a company that makes the Xbox would find it more profitable to not make it compatible with 3rd party external disk drives and instead feature an exclusive rendition of the same technology. A normally $20 disk drive with the word “Xbox” stamped on it is easily has a $40 to $50 price tag. At the end of the day, while the manufacturer goes the spoils, the consumers will end up on the bottom. The system will cost more, be less effective, and lack the features that we all expect out of our $400+ game consoles.

When the bearer of this news, MCV, contacted Microsoft, they had this to say: “Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend its lifecycle like introducing the world to controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention. Beyond that we do not comment on rumors or speculation.” While this statement seems standard, threatening to “defy the lifecycle convention” leads me to believe that we have some solid information on our hands. There are many advantages and disadvantages to having an on board disk drive on a console. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Since we are the ones who will be playing on this new console, we need to get our voices out in the public so that they may be heard. So lets get to commenting!