back to article Microsoft 'yanked optical drive from Xbox 720'

Microsoft's next Xbox - whatever it's called - will not feature an optical disc drive, moles have claimed. Instead, it will gain games by downloads and possibly on memory cards too. Allegedly breaking one of the "strictest NDA" contracts ever encountered, the insiders said the console will indeed be launched in 2013, as …


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  1. Miek

    So no more second hand games market then?

    1. Richard 81

      That may well be a major driving force behind this. Publishers hate second hand sales.

      1. Haku

        How come the games companes are suddenly so important that they need to piss off their end users in this way, you don't see car companies crying out because an owner sold their car and the original manufacturer didn't get a cut of that sale.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Don't you think they would if they could?

        2. nexsphil
          IT Angle

          Because the board are baying morons

          When you have an immature industry with boards & shareholders that believe their sole role is to shriek "MO MONEY!" like poorly trained baboons, there will always be opportunist directors that will answer their call by shaking the customer base down at the expense of future prosperity (by which time they're safely 'pursuing other interests'). These companies will eventually grovellingly realign with consumer demand or meet their doom. This precise scenario has been played out so many times over and over again it's a very amusing indictment of our collective inability to learn from past mistakes. So fret not, this is one of few situations in life where you're guaranteed to see some satisfying justice in the end.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          games vs cars

          not really a valid comparison. Almost everyone sells their car, and their purchase and as a result the price is based on the assumption that they will get some money back later on. If car companies stopped people selling on their cars people would demand to pay a hell of a lot less for them

          Dealing with a few orders of magnitude difference means it doesn't scale quite as well.

          1. Blank Reg

            Re: games vs cars

            There is a more important difference, it doesn't cost the car companies anything if you drive your car more or if you sell it to someone else to drive. For games with an oniine component it costs the developer money to keep the servers running. When you sell the game that extends the amount of online play per copy sold thus costing them more. The recent introduction of online passes is one solution. Another is to sell the single player and multiplayer components separately, but that has it's own problems.

            But for single player only games the developers have no right to expect to get anything more after the original purchase.

            1. M Gale

              Re: games vs cars

              Run the servers? Maybe for an MMO that you pay per month for anyway.

              Most "multiplayer" games rely on one of the players running the server, and yes that includes the rip-off Xbox Live service. Never seen the "migrating host" message on COD when some kiddy spits his dummy out and switches their machine off halfway through a match when they are the host?

              False argument. When the devs are running the servers, you tend to pay for them.

              1. Blank Reg

                Re: games vs cars

                Sorry, forgot this was an xBox article. On Xbox most games use P2P so you're right, they shouldn't be expecting any more cash, especially as they are already dinging you $60/year just to play online. On PS3 most, if not all first party games use dedicated servers and they don't charge to play on line so they can justify restricting online play for used games. Or they can leave the used games alone and start charging a yearly fee.

        4. Giles Jones Gold badge

          Lets face it, downloads are always going to be the future. Optical media is an 80s invention largely.

          If you move beyond discs then you will have the risk of making it hard to get things onto the machine. Not vastly hard but a damn site harder than browsing a menu on the device and pressing "Buy".

          The question is do you want to download on a PC, copy to a USB stick then install the game on the console. Or just press one button?

          1. Oninoshiko

            @Giles Jones

            Optical media in gaming was really a 90s innovation. The use of LaserDisc for games was not widespread, and while it *IS* true that the Yellow Book standard was written in 1985, it did not really see wide-spread deployment until the early 90s.

            When you think about it, five years from getting the standard written to using it for entertainment isn't bad.

      2. Fred 21

        Second hand games

        Not so sure about this, recently newer games come with a one time code to enable you to play multiplayer, if the game has been traded in the user has to purchase a new code. Assassins Creed Revelations & Battlefield 3 do for instance. From what I've seen, the price of these are nearly full game prices. I've already seen this put off customers in GAME.

        I'm not so sure about the download only, the XBox for instance has Indie & arcade games which were download only - MS have recently launched several via discs in order to maximise sales. I already have a few download only games (along with avatar items etc) which I'm quite happy with, although I have heard of problems whereby the publisher pulls the game \ avatar item from the market place which means I can no longer access an item I have paid for.

    2. g e


      I predicted this a coupla months ago, the destruction of the 2nd hand game market.

      So, they're going to halve the price of the games now every copy is a sale?

      Yeah right. They'll get dearer.

    3. Dante

      I think

      the publishers are going to get quite a shock when sales drop due to not being able to trade in games.

    4. Van


      I wonder if there will be a good second market for consoles stuffed to the hilt with games. Could be some good deals about later in it's life. Gamers really need to resist buying new shiny if the industry is trying it on. There's plenty of quality unplayed games out there for most of us.

      1. Goat Jam

        Stuffed full of games

        "I wonder if there will be a good second market for consoles stuffed to the hilt with games"

        Nope, because the games will be tied to your Live ID (or whatever it is called today) and would refuse to play for anybody else.

    5. Giles Jones Gold badge

      It was tried with the PSP Go and it failed miserably. The other problem is no competition, a single source means no price competition.

    6. RAMChYLD


      Well, it's supposed to compensate with removable solid state storage...

      Sheesh, MS, I know you have a problem with 360s scratching game discs, but isn't this taking it a little too far?

  2. Richard 81

    Uh huh?

    Anyone know what the relative cost of a DVD is to a memory card? Or are Amazon and its ilk going to be selling serial keys for games that people then download from XBox Live?

    If Microsoft think they can survive on XBox Live sales alone, they've got another thing coming.

    1. fishman

      Re: Uh huh?

      I'd guess that the cost of a DVD + packaging is under $0.50, BD is probably $0.50-$1.00, and the cost of a cheap blank 4GB SD card is $5.00, 8GB is $8.00, 16GB is $14.00, and 32 GB is $29.00.

      1. Alex Simmons
        Thumb Up

        Re: Uh huh?

        Yes your right for point of sale to the end user, wholesale the costs are a lot less and then I am sure if you put in an order for +30 million you wouldn't pay no more than $5 each for a 32GB SD.

        So SD seams like a good idea, back to the days of cartridge, with almost no load times.

        1. Kane Silver badge

          Re: Uh huh?

          "back to the days of cartridge, with almost no load times"

          Hahaha! No, really - have you experienced the load times for PSV games yet? Particularly the high texture ones.

        2. Blank Reg

          Re: Uh huh?

          Except it will be a custom card rather than some form of SD unless they are truly stupid.If they use a standard card it will be hacked and copied in minutes.

    2. error handler

      Re: Uh huh?

      Surely it'll be both downloads and physical media, rather than one or the other?

      When Call Of Duty 23 for New Xbox comes out, if you can just stick it on the credit card, start it downloading, make a cup of tea and then start playing - basically Steam-for-Xbox-in-a-box - then I imagine a lot of people who live in big cities with decent Internet connections will be very interested in this.

      This is also great for Microsoft as they now have a really easy and cost-effective distribution method, plus they're completely in control of these users, plus they can bang on about how green their new console is because it doesn't create any harmful plastic packaging which ends up in landfills.

      But then again if you have a heavily capped DSL package, or you live in the middle of nowhere and have a satellite connection, or you just don't care about the Internet, or you don't like using your credit card online, then downloading a retail game isn't really an option: you need media.

      These sorts of consumers aren't as tasty to Microsoft, but they still have money. Microsoft like money. They'll work out a way that means everyone gets to give them some.

      What's really interesting is how people are going to react to the (presumably imminent) death of the pre-owned market: you can bet that no matter which delivery channel you opt for, the game is going to be locked down to one specific profile on one specific Xbox - and to move it, you'll need to buy the official Microsoft (r) Enjoyment Experience Transfer Device (tm), RRP $99 in the US and £99 in the UK, which will basically be a USB flash drive with a proprietary file system, the connection rewired in some sort of annoying non-standard way, and a kill switch that disables it after you've used it once.

  3. Miek

    Can I install Ubuntu on it ?

    1. Ty Cobb

      Why would you want a Unity interface on a big screen?

      Debian maybe instead?

      1. Greg J Preece

        Check out Ubuntu TV. I don't like Unity on a desktop but on a telly it's rather spiffing.

        1. Goat Jam
          Paris Hilton

          How do I "Check out Ubuntu TV" (serious question)

          I went to their site, and all there is is a "Contact Us" button for people who are interested in building it into a TV.

          From the site;

          "If you’re a TV manufacturer or a content provider and you’d like to learn more, just enter your details below. A member of our TV team will be in touch within five working days."

  4. James 51 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Are they doing a sony?

    How much do you want to bet these will be non-standard memory cards that will cost a lot? Or that these will contain keys that allow you to download the game a certain number of times but will be locked to a particular console. There are a lot of games for the 360 I haven't gotten round to playing. Might take my time before I think about upgrading.

    1. g e

      Re: Are they doing a sony?

      Locked to a **USER** on a console with the option to buy 'cheap' keys for the other console users, mark my words...

      The games market will tank, surely.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Are they doing a sony?

      Why say "doing a Sony"? The Xbox and Xbox 360 sold proprietary memory cards and if you want to be pedantic, even physical media disks for all consoles include proprietary copy protection mechanisms to stop someone copying them.

      I do think Sony is taking the piss with their PS vita storage cards. There are absolutely no justification for that except fleecing customers out of some extra coin. I'm sure there is more than enough crypto in the device that they could have chosen micro sd.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are they doing a sony?

        "I do think Sony is taking the piss with their PS vita storage cards. There are absolutely no justification for that"

        They need on-the-fly hardware decryption, something that SDCards don't support, never heard of MagicGate?

        Clearly if Sony were selling PS Vita games on SD Cards, then you could simply copy them. The Vita cards have build in hardware decryption.

    3. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Are they doing a sony?

      I read it more like they're going back to cartridge based games like what we used to have before the first Playstation came along and showed the world that you could stuff a game onto an optical disc. Personally I'd welcome that move. You'd get much faster load times in a much more durable medium. I could finally put my games somewhere convenient instead of having to lock them up to protect them from my kids. It might, but probably wouldn't, raise the price of the game a few dollars, but it'd be worth it to me.

      1. M Gale

        Showed the world you could put a game on an optical disk.

        Sega Mega CD? Amiga CD32?

  5. Leo Maxwell

    No surprise there

    When was the last time you used an optical drive?

    I can't really remember needing one for a while, except maybe when installing an OS, and for

    Linux, not even then.

    And the price for memory sticks in wholesale quantities is probably tiny, considering many application installs still don't fill a CD.

    Downloaded content is the norm these days, you get an email with a link and a license key.

    They've even stopped putting hardware manuals on CD, you get a slip of paper with a URL.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: No surprise there

      I may be an exception but I use mine pretty regularly. But this is about an optical drive on a console, not on a PC. You won't be able to use the new XBOX to watch a DVD any more and plenty of people do that. Nor will you be able to play an audio CD. You'll be forced to buy a digital download copy of the film or song in order to use it.

      1. DJ 2

        Re: No surprise there

        Bluray movies and Cds on my PS3, I think microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot with this idea.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: No surprise there

      I use mine all the time thanks to that bloody stupid bit of kit that stops you using VCD etc. to make a clone of a CD/DVD.

      I'd rather not handle my install media every time I want to play a game. Looks like I won't have to handle it now, though.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as I wrote else where, *if* this is true (and that it a big if), then we are talking about game cartridges. These will have the advantages of the removal of the noise and heat generated by the rotating disc, plus it will have a very nice random seek time.

    The real problem is: backward compatibility. Although, if they allow it by allowing the punter to connect an external USB DVD drive, then the problem _should_ be solved... as long as they don't insist that you must buy a Microsoft overpriced drive.

    Any way, let us keep in mind that the lack of BD and/or DVD drive will reduce the entertainment device value of the Xbox in the living room. I honestly doubt that MS will want to do that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, consoles going back to cartridges then?


    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: So, consoles going back to cartridges then?

      Cool. Cartridges boot much faster than discs and have the big advantage of being able to save to the cartridge not the console. Take your game round to a mate's and your unlockables come with you. Buy a new console cos your old one melted and the same applies. Sweet!

  8. jai

    Removable solid-state storage?

    So we're going back to using game carts then, like we used to use back in the ol' days on our Master Systems and NESs?

    Technological progress is an amazing thing....

    1. Irongut

      Re: Removable solid-state storage?


      The old days were the days of the 2600, long before Sega and Nintendo.

      1. Spudbynight
        Thumb Up

        Re: Removable solid-state storage?


        Magnavox Odyssey was the old days.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Removable solid-state storage?


          A piece of chalk and a bag of marbles was the old days.

          1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge


            when I was a lad, hiding imn an old cardboard box under the viaduct with only a set of (partial) rats bones to play with....

          2. Spudbynight

            Re: Removable solid-state storage?

            I seem to have walked into a Monty Python sketch....

            ...I'll get my coat.

  9. Dave 126 Silver badge

    @ Haku, Re Cars

    You're right, we don't hear the car companies complaining. However, they give all the gifts to the first owner - 5 year warranty, fuel economy - which don't last too long for the second owner. Common Rail Diesel engines cost a lot to fix once they start going wrong.

    You just don't see old bangers on the roads these days.

    1. Sly

      Re: @ Haku, Re Cars

      no old bangers? define old.

      I'll say 15+ years would be old for a car.

      my "new car" is a 93. My old one is an 82. lots of old bangers driving round these parts.

  10. EddieD

    Is this really unexpected?

    Or even a problem?

    I've not bought a physical copy of a game since I got the second expansion of World of Warcraft - everything else has been a download via Steam or similar, or, gosh, XBox Live.

    Services like NetFlix and LoveFilm are moving away from physical copies too, it's called progress, apparently, and, oddly for me, I'm in favour of it.


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