Confirming earlier reports and leaks, Microsoft has officially announced an all-digital Xbox One console that has no disc drive. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, as it's called, launches on May 7 and it's priced at $250 USD.
According to Xbox executive Jeff Gattis, the consumer demand for digital content is "stronger today than ever before," and the new, all-digital Xbox One is a response to that.
"Gaming and technology have changed quite a bit since the first Xbox debuted in 2001. During this time, we've seen a digital transformation across gaming, music, TV, and movies," Gattis said. "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."
The All-Digital Edition comes with Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves, all of which are developed or published by Microsoft. They're meant to showcase titles that are more family-friendly. Additionally, the console comes with a "special offer" for Xbox Game Pass, which is Microsoft's all-you-can-play Xbox game subscription service.
The lack of a disc drive means the console doesn't support DVDs or Blu-ray discs, but Microsoft says people can still experience 4K content through Netflix, Amazon, and other destinations. The form factor is the same, and the all-digital Xbox One has the same functionality as the standard Xbox One S. It just cannot play game discs or disc-based media.
"It shares the same dimensions as an Xbox One S to help maintain the most affordable price point in the Xbox One family of devices, especially since changes that affect the form of a console can be complex and costly," Gattis says.
In terms of specs, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is in-line with the Xbox One S, which means that while it cannot handle native 4K resolutions for games like the Xbox One X, it is capable of displaying games with HDR support. Take a look at the specs below:
- 1TB HDD
- 8-core Custom Jaguar CPU @ 1.75GHz
- Custom GPU @ 914 MHz
- 12 CUs
- 1.4 TFLOPS
- 8 GB DDR3 @ 68 GB/s
- 32 MB ESRAM @ 218 GB/s
Regarding the $250 USD price point, Microsoft pointed out that it's $50 USD less than the standard Xbox One S. That is true, but that console is almost always on sale. For example, Best Buy has the 1 TB Xbox One S with a copy of The Division 2 for $250 USD right now. Some were expecting the all-digital Xbox One to start at $200.
Whatever the case, Microsoft said it expects to maintain at least a $50 price difference between the all-digital Xbox One S and standard Xbox One S going forward. There is no word yet on if Microsoft will ever offer an all-digital Xbox One X.
"The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is designed to make console gaming more accessible to more people, especially for new customers that don't already own a console and want access to the complete Xbox experience without investing in one of our other options, Xbox One X or Xbox One S," Gattis says.
The all-digital Xbox One S is a big deal. It is believed that Microsoft considered launching the Xbox One without a disc drive back in 2013, but that never happened. The new model is Microsoft's first gaming console without a disc drive, and one of the first across the entire industry to lack one. Sony launched the all-digital PSP Go in 2009 but discontinued it just two years later.
Importantly, the all-digital Xbox One S is just one console in the Xbox One family of devices. Due to internet availability and speed, this console won't be feasible for some people. Microsoft will keep making Xbox One consoles with disc drives, and the company is rumored to announce its next-generation systems at E3 in June.
"The benefits of the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is that it offers value and choice to customers that prefer the conveniences of an all-digital library," Gattis says. "Given this is the first product of its kind, it will teach us things we don't already know about customer preferences around digital and will allow us to refine those experiences in the future. We see this as a step forward in extending our offerings beyond the core console gamer and continuing our journey to reach more than 2 billion gamers worldwide."
Part of the appeal of having a disc, apart from the way it feels to physically hold and own something, is that it has some amount of trade-in value. In an all-digital future, trade-ins do not exist. The retailer GameStop, for example, historically has relied on pre-owned sales to drive its business, so it'll be interesting to see how that store responds.
Gattis says retailers like GameStop and others "play a critical role" in the overall gaming ecosystem. "We work closely with retailers to ensure that our products are mutually beneficial for our business and theirs and in general, retailer reception to the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition has been positive so we're pleased to be able to provide a variety of choice to meet our customers' needs, whether they're looking to purchase this new all-digital console or digital content cards at a physical retail store," Gattis says.
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