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
    Unhappy

    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

          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 Silver badge

            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 Silver badge

                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
      Unhappy

      :o(

      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

      Console

      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
        Pirate

        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
      Boffin

      re:

      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 Silver badge

          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
    Coat

    Can I install Ubuntu on it ?

    1. Ty Cobb
      Facepalm

      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
    Holmes

    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
      Meh

      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?

    Basically.

    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?

      Youngster.

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

      1. Spudbynight
        Thumb Up

        Re: Removable solid-state storage?

        Youngster

        Magnavox Odyssey was the old days.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Coat

          Re: Removable solid-state storage?

          Youngster.

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

          1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
            Happy

            pa

            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
            Coat

            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
      FAIL

      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.

    1. IPatentedItSoIOwnIt
      FAIL

      Re: Is this really unexpected?

      Problem for me with this is it's aimed at allowing Microsoft to control the distribution channel.

      I can buy a 6 months old game from Amazon/Play/Ebay for £15(second hand)-25(new) on XBoxLive I have to pay £40 for the privilege.

      I happily own 60 games for the XBox and XBox 360 but if this is the way Microsoft want to play it then I will wait to see what SONY are offering and if they too try to fuckover their customers I will buy which ever is easiest to crack and give neither of them a penny more than that.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Is this really unexpected?

        It's a safe bet that Sony will continue with BluRay, though it will likely support BDXL or even bigger disks. Try downloading 128gb in a hurry. I've got a 75Mbps connection at home and it would still be much faster to drive to the store to buy a game and still have time left over to stop for a beer or seven :)

      2. Goat Jam
        Paris Hilton

        "I will wait to see what SONY are offering and if they too try to fuckover their customers"

        Ummm, isn't fucking over their customers SOP for Sony?

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Is this really unexpected?

      "Or even a problem?"

      Well, if you can afford the latests shiny at release then I guess not, but I personally very VERY rarely ever buy games on release - I would much rather wait until there are some relatively cheap second hand copies kicking about, and even then I can pick up a couple of games for £20 or less.

      If it was a case that MS were doing this in the name of progress, then yes I would be in favour of it, but that doesn't appear to be the case here - it looks like they are effectively trying to shut down the second hand games market with this activity.

  11. Andy Fletcher

    Of course there won't be an optical drive

    MS knows full well they dropped a clanger making the XBox360 with a DVD drive, whereas Sony added BluRay. That's why Sony were able to get exclusives because no gamer can be bothered with 6 discs.

    I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised that discs will disappear altogether pretty soon. It's an outdated way to distribute digital media and has been for a long time now. No-one noticed how aggressively Amazon is pursuing digital content distribution online? They aren't stupid. Retailers selling physical media should have woken up to this 5 years ago. They're screwed.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

      If they can't be bothered with six DVDs I'm pretty sure they can't be bothered waiting a day* for it to download.

      Unless they plan to stream levels to the memory card, in which case thank goodness everyone's got cheap fast reliable always-on broadband internet that doesn't have bandwidth limits these days. **

      * Someone will inevitably correct me on this.

      ** Joke alert.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

      Of course, this is all well and good...if you've got good fast broadband. Oh, and download caps?

      1. Andy Fletcher

        Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

        Sure - not everyone has fast enough broadband. But MS know a huge percentage of their userbase (I would be amazed if it was less than 98%) do. You simply don't add a large expense to the cost of your hardware that 100% of your users have to pay for simply to pander to 2% of them. It's harsh, but that's how it is. Whether I agree with it or not, we're about to witness the death of physical media sales, and the second hand games market.

        1. Test Man
          FAIL

          Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

          LOL 98% having fast-enough broadband. Nope, not even close.

          You're making the usual geek mistake of assuming that just because your close circle has the latest tech, virtually everyone else do.

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

            "You're making the usual geek mistake of assuming that just because your close circle has the latest tech, virtually everyone else do."

            No, he's claiming XBOX360 users are a demographic who ill tend to have much better broadband than the national average. i.e. they're geeks too.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

          Actually the last survey I saw showed that it was only something like 75% were connected to the internet with the PS3 at around 80% and the Wii well behind at less than 60%. And those were US numbers, in much of the rest of the world the numbers will almost certainly be lower.

          1. Fibbles

            Re: Of course there won't be an optical drive

            Why would they be lower outside the US? According to Wikipedia's confusingly arranged data the US is only ranked 17th in the world when comparing percentages of the population with fixed broadband connections or 28th if you compare percentages of the population that are 'broadband internet users'*.

            *I'm not sure if this just means they're including people with mobile broadband or if they've decided you're a broadband internet user if you have an internet cafe around the corner from your home.

    3. Oninoshiko
      Boffin

      6 Disks?

      It worked for Phantasmagoria (actually 7)

  12. James Delaney

    Time to chuck out my kids DVDs then

    My 360 has become more of a DVD player recently spending most of its time playing The Gruffalo over and over again. I can understand MS wanting to move people to a download model ala Apple's successful iTunes and App stores but not having the drive at all will punish people like those with families that use it as an entertainment device and watch relatively cheap (and often older) DVDs or Blurays.

    I'm usually the first to suggest tech as a solution but the market for media and the broadband infrastructure don't support the download only model just yet.

    Moaning about second hand games is a non-starter. EMEA is notorious for reducing game prices not long after launch. Other (larger?) markets keep game prices higher for much much longer. It's retailers and distributors here that are worse for the publisher - they have created an expectation of lower prices a few weeks after launch.

    1. P Saunders

      Re: Time to chuck out my kids DVDs then

      Couldn't agree more. I can just see MS launching such a system with much fanfare here in South Africa, where broadband costs are anything up to 1000 times higher than anywhere else, and then wondering why nobody buys their games. Believe me, Steam was, until recently when BB costs started dropping, a steaming pile of idiocy that only rich kids could use.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    What about

    The 50% of people on less than 4Mbps

    Low Caps

    10% to 40% that can't get decent broadband.

    Forget about mass market downloads of DVD never mind BD size titles on 3G or 4G/LTE. There isn't the capacity.

    Decisions made by people on corporate Fibre?

  14. GregC
    FAIL

    This might work if everyone had fast broadband...

    But they can fuck right off if they think I'm going to spend however long it would take to download gigs and gigs of a game on my 2meg connection. You can describe discs as outdated all you like, but until we all have fast enough connectivity they will continue to be the most practical distribution mechanism.

    Not to mention, as others have already said, what about watching that collection of DVDs I've already got?

    1. James Thomas

      Re: This might work if everyone had fast broadband...

      Buy a DVD player for ~£10 maybe?

  15. lansalot

    hmm...

    ... tricky for those with tight download quotas then...

    How about... take your removable SSD to (store), and they blow a copy onto the storage there, via some MS-provided delivery mechanism?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    EPIC FAIL

    No second hand games

    No Xbox backwards compatability

    No Blu-Ray or DVD movie playback.

    The current Xbox was a disaster from the technical point of view, it's good to see Microsoft continuing the tradition. All they need now is to pay some "industry experts" that nobody has heard to to proclaim that digital game distribution is the future. Of course when Sony did this with the PSP GO, they didn't have the "industry experts" to back them up...

    1. Day

      Re: EPIC FAIL

      They don't need an industry expert. Digital game distribution *is* the future. Think about all the people who play games in the world today. How many of them do you think have ever bought a game in physical form?

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: EPIC FAIL

        Bad troll, naughty troll for making me respond - back into your cave!

    2. Sooty

      Re: EPIC FAIL

      well, i hesitate to suggest they might release a special microsoft add-on optical drive to enable backwards compatabilty... it's not like the original had an extortionalety priced special wi-fi adapter, or hard disk.

  17. jestersbro
    Unhappy

    WTF?

    What in hell's name am I going to do when it comes to replaying my old faves? And, I may be weird but I like the physical, tactile experince of breaking in to a wrapper and getting my hands on that shiny and new smelling product! Thumbing my way through a well written instruction leaflet is one of the joys of discovering a new game world!

    ALL THAT WILL BE GONE!!!!

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: WTF?

      Sorry, you're a dinosaur :)

  18. NHS IT guy
    WTF?

    What about download limits?

    This would be fine in theory, if all games were as small as those on iOS App Store or the Android Marketplace.

    But next-gen games are filling whole 25Gb blu-ray disks. Are they seriously asking punters to sit there and wait for their console to download 25Gb of content over their ADSL connection? What about people who use mobile broadband? Or those who have cheaper ADSL with a download cap?

    People really don't think these things through.

    1. Spudbynight

      Re: What about download limits?

      I have purchased nearly all my PC games in this manner. Most PC gamers are the same.

      We seem to be able to deal with all the big AAA titles - which are never big enough to fill a Blu-Ray disk.

      1. Sooty

        Re: What about download limits?

        the answer is compression, if it has to be streamed in realtime off a disc, it can't be that compressed. If you're going to download it, it can be compressed and then expanded on your drive

    2. W.O.Frobozz
      FAIL

      Re: What about download limits?

      Exactly what I was thinking...this is going to go over very poorly here in Canada, the land of perpetual low download limits and 4th World internet accessibility. The Ruling Cartels are going to love it, though.

  19. James Thomas

    It's not about selling memory cards

    I think that when they by 'removable solid state storage' they don't mean memory cards or cartidges. What they are talking about is a a low capacity SSD (it will need to be >50gig so a memory stick no longer cuts it) that you can remove from the console and take to a shop to 'download' your game if your internet connection is slow.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: It's not about selling memory cards

      "...it will need to be >50gig so a memory stick no longer cuts it...."

      Er, why? The current Xbox manages quite well with only a DVD drive (max 9Gb) and yet sports many, if not most, of the same titles seen elsewhere. Games distributed on BD are rattling around in there like peas in a submarine. Ok you may be a bit light on the hours of glorious, "look how clever we are", 1080p cutscenes that the PS3 format is justly famous for, but if I'd wanted to watch a movie, I'd have bought a bloody movie rather than a game.

      I'd have thought a 16 or 32Gb SD card should be OK for the near future, larger sizes are already available and bigger ones are appearing all the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not about selling memory cards

        XBox games are only 6GB, they rest is wasted on software encryption sectors.

        Thats why multiplatform games and Xbox exclusives are usually shit.

  20. Julian 3

    Optional Optical?

    Perhaps MS will offer an optical drive as an add on you could buy like they did with HD DVD Drives when the 360 came out?

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Up

      Re: Optional Optical?

      I suspect you're right. Will bring the unit cost of the new console down, but allow people who want to use it as a "media centre" to do so if they want their media centres to play their blu-rays and DVDs.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good riddance. Optical media died quite a few years ago with fast broadband for me.

    Saying that, I've always missed the cartridge format on the bigger consoles, I may consider paying extra for near instant loading times and a box with nice artwork. Although I've yet to see a format come close to the Japanese SNES for artwork on boxes. Perhaps having something to collect Is one of the appeals of retro gaming.

  22. b166er

    Please let this be true.

    If it is, I'll be dancing on the grave of optical media.

    I forsee being able to send existing 360 games in the post to Microsoft so they will license me to download them through Live to my SSD.

    I've been waiting so long for console manufacturers to get back to ROM style usage, rather than these utterly shite unreliable optical discs.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Send a disc to MS for a licence?

      You mad?

      They will expect you to buy it again.

      And again, and again.

      In their world you never owned a copy in the first place.

      This is purely a way to shut down the second-hand market completely and being able to lend a game to your friends and relatives, ensuring that everybody pays full price.

      At least with PC gaming you have the choice to avoid Steam etc.

  23. JDX Gold badge

    I think this is unlikely to be the case, personally. I know Steam is a big deal, but I don't believe the console market is ready for this, not in the UK anyway. Too many people have crap internet or take games round their mates' houses.

    MS have been very smart in the console market, if this is true I would be very worried they'd blown it.

  24. Frederick Tennant

    Bandwidth issues...

    This is what they call progress? Some of my clients have issues with their board-band, e.g. people living in the villages and the country dont have any board-band worth talking about.

    BT wont speed them up until cable (Virgin) reaches them, e.g. Battlefield is unplayable out there, downloads take overnight if it dose not time out, and its the same with most network games, so how are they going to make progress or watch the city make progress lol. Sorry Game but its been a good run...

  25. leeeeeb
    Thumb Up

    Very welcome news. Optical discs were essentially designed for streaming, whereas games also require high IO bandwidth and random access.

    The widespread adoption of disc media in consoles was partly for the low cost per GB, but also Sony's larger agenda of using it to push adoption of first DVD and then Bluray formats. The engineers behind the original PS1 saw the CD as a medium that would load the game and then only be used afterwards for video and background music. Of course games quickly grew and in many cases we've endured crushingly dull load times.

    If the intention is to use some form of PROM/cartridge at retail, the per GB is more than fine at the price point of console games. The only drawback would be what it means for backward compatibility. Cartridges don't themselves restrict the availability of a second hand marker, and the ability to do that with discs via unique serialisation has been around for a few years.

  26. leeeeeb
    Thumb Up

    Very welcome news. Optical discs were essentially designed for streaming, whereas games also require high IO bandwidth and random access.

    The widespread adoption of disc media in console was partly for the low cost per GB, but also Sony's larger agenda of using it to push adoption of first DVD and then Bluray formats. The engineers behind the original PS1 saw the CD as a medium that would load the game and then only be used afterwards for video and background music. Of course games quickly grew and in many cases we've endured crushingly dull load times.

    If the intention is to use some form of PROM/cartridge at retail, the per GB is more than fine at the price point of console games. The only drawback would be what it means for backward compatibility. Cartridges don't themselves restrict the availability of a second hand marker, and the ability to do that with discs via unique serialisation has been around for a few years.

    1. Miek
      Thumb Up

      Click refresh before you repost!

  27. Flash_Penguin
    Pirate

    Back to the VIC-20 and GORF then?

    Which was MY first experience of cartridges, although I think the Atari console had them before that....

    How long before the cartridges are read and shared as ROMS?

    Because that hasn't happened on other cartridge based system has it?

    Apart from the Sega Master, Genesis, SNES, DS add others you can think of below

  28. jason 7
    Stop

    Missing some points here.

    When I go into Game and look at the second hand games 95% of them are trash titles that should never have been launched in the first place. For every AAA title you may find there will be 50 Z list titles around it.

    So in the long run it may mean the second hand game market dries up a little but it could also mean that if folks are more choosy about what they buy (as it seems by the second hand racks a lot of people buy crappy games a lot) then the games developers are going to have to make sure their titles are the ones people are going to really want to buy.

    So it may mean less games released a year but the quality could improve a lot more. I'm all for that.

    As for doing away with optical media I'm 50/50 on this. I knew there was a good chance that MS would rather die than out a BD drive in a Xbox but they could have used a modified HD-DVD drive as the tech was theirs and I bet there is still a warehouse in eastern Europe somewhere full of old HD-DVD drives that are bought and paid for.

    I still use my 360 as my main DVD drive but I have never played an audio CD in it. Not really suitable. I've always fancied going back to cartridges since the days of my Morrowind DVD constantly playing up on my original Xbox.

  29. scifidale

    Cartridges were better but not indestructible, who remebers blowing wildly into the bottom of a cartridge to bring it back to life?

    Downloadable content is a nightmare for me if MS do this my connection is ok considering I live in the country but its unreliable so if MS do do this they'll need to ensure they include a download manager by default. Someone down the road to me who has a young family get only get half a meg on their up to 8 meg line so they wont be able to download anything.

    As long as cart's are the new medium or they stick with dvd/BD then I'll be quite happy, download only means I'll be playing my 360 for many years until fibre broadband makes an apperance in our area (I dont think I'll live that long).

  30. Steve Renouf
    Pint

    Media woes!?!

    Or they just might supply them on physical media too.

    Unless the console has a massive HHD inside, where else are you going to store all those games? Oh, on the cards they were supplied with... Maybe...

  31. Brian 64
    Thumb Up

    Sounds good to me!

    I don't see this as a big deal. Sure, not everyone has great Internet access, but you will still have the solid state memory option. And this won't necesarily lock out the brick and mortar: Maybe the solid state option will be a buy-once option where you take YOUR memory card to the store and it copies the purchased game to your memory then delivers the key to your Live account. With USB 3 and other competing high-speed data transfer options the wait at the store would not be prohibitive. Hell, maybe you can use the same distro method for movies, etc. RedBox as a Xbox distrobution outlet? Sounds doable!

  32. killzone

    I'm in favour.

    between two each of PS1, PS2 and PS3, Dreamcast, gamecube, Wii, Xbox, and *5* xbox 360's not to mention 15 years of PC gaming I have acquired literally hundreds of game discs. I have to dedicate an entire 15ft wall of my living room to their storage... all the other walls are occupied by dvd and blu-rays. it's getting ridiculous.

    putting aside physical storage space as an issue, I have lost count of the number of games and films I have had to replace over the years due to disc scratches rendering them non functional. (kids).

    I am 100% in favour of an optical-driveless next generation xbox, or indeed any other console... I've been a heavy itunes user for tunes and movies for nearly a decade and have never encountered a problem - I once lost my entire itunes collection when both the iMac and the backup hard disks were destroyed by fire - out of pocket? No. I contacted itunes customer services and within 6 hours my entire download history of everything i had ever bought was available in my download queue for me to redownload. took days, but no biggy.

    likewise, an xbox died (rrod) - able to download every xbox live purchase again, for free to my new console.

    physical media is anachronistic... all I can do is hope they put a sufficiently large hard disk in the new xbox so that I don't have to consider an eventual upgrade as I did xmas time - replacing an original 20gb xbox premium with the 320gb call of duty modern warfare xbox - purely because I had no space left on the disk and literally nothing I could delete.

    at the end of the day, lack of optical drive isn't really an issue for me, if i want a disc player i'll buy a dvd player ~£30 for a half decent one, or £70-100 for a reasonable blu-ray player... or, it might actually motivate me to buy the decent blu-ray player i've been thinking about for a while - perhaps something from arcam, to do my plasma telly justice.

  33. Gazareth

    Nah

    The 720 will have an optical drive.

    But the 1440 probably won't.

    And broadband will be a utility by then.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Console for the future

    People seem to be assuming that Microsoft are building this console for today. Xbox 360 / PS3 have a projected lifespan of 10 years, in those 10 years broadband has come along significantly. We've gone from 2-3 Mb/s being considered "high speed" to 300 mb/s to be offered by virgin shortly.

    Companies over the next few years will be rolling out bigger speeds and eventually more and more of the country will fall into the catchment areas for these speeds.

    Prediction: If this goes ahead lovefilm will expand their rental service to include games via online. Rent a game with some form of DRM license that "expires" when you "send it back" and can instantly download a new game there and then - eliminates waiting for the posty + lost discs.

    This is how technology progresses, those who are moaning about download speeds are clearly thinking about this console and how it would function TODAY. In 3 years when Sony release the PS4 without an optical drive they'll be playing catch up.

    VERY smart move from MS.

    1. Test Man
      WTF?

      Re: A Console for the future

      Useless.

      No matter how quick speeds get (and it won't be quicker for everyone - fact), there'll always be download caps. So it doesn't matter if in 4 years there's 100Mb/s download connection - there'll be a significant amount of people who can't take advantage of this for various reasons.

      Microsoft won't go download only on their console, guaranteed.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: A Console for the future

        >>there'll always be download caps

        Nominate for a future "tech shortsightedness" award.

    2. jason 7

      Re: Nah

      Isnt it a utility already?

      I wouldnt think of buying a property with less than 4Mb of reasonable latency broadband.

      I'd really want 8Mb as a usable level.

  35. h 2
    Facepalm

    Happy Birthday/Christmas Kids

    Dear Johnny/Sally

    Your present is scribbled on the bottom of this card.

    It's a URL to the download that you can play with in 3 days time after it's downloaded.

    Love Dad

    xx

  36. SJRulez

    WTF

    Currently since there aren't many decent titles out I'm using mine to watch DVD's and listen to music mainly because I cant be arsed to have loads of electrical goods i.e a stereo in the living room (even the media pc doesn't have a drive).

  37. The BigYin

    Sod them

    There's more than enough decent fun games in the free/open world these days. I value being able to do what I like with MY hardware above playing Cyber-Twat-Mega-Kill 4.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Sod them

      Indeed.

      I will buy games though. Just not games with mandatory Steam registration, or by EA, or Ubisoft.

      Apparently my money isn't good enough for them and they want me to create accounts? More forgettable usernames and passwords on more hackable servers, an implication that I'm a pirate and a bunch of shite installed alongside the game to go with it? It's a toy, ffs. Either you give me something that works without a load of shit installed, or I buy elsewhere.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Sod them

        diddums.

  38. chipxtreme
    FAIL

    Stupid idea, most UK broadband providers have silly limits of 40GB per month, some games would be bigger than this and for those on slow connections (I still know people that are lucky to get 1mbps) it would take DAYS to download.

    Also what size harddisc will it come with and what happens when it fills up? Do you have to delete the game and if so are you allowed to re-download it for free?

    Stupid idea.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Gabe Newell

    Please save the games industry.

    Love from gamers everywhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Gabe Newell

      Dear gamers everywhere,

      If I do, will you buy me lots of cakes?

      Regards

      Gabe Newell

  40. TangD
    Go

    Tablet games....

    Don't we already download tablet games? I mean I know they're smaller but some are several Gb and there is no physical media there (and I can't say I miss it). Prices of the games seem to come down over time, the games I paid $5 for 2 years ago are now available for $1 or even free, creating a route for those that currently save money buying second hand games. The only downside seems to be you can't recover your investment selling on second hand and you just factor that in when you buy the game. I don't sell my games on, I find the replay value is worth more to me than what I would get at Game. Having been forced into Steam for Oblivion I do miss the boxes and the history but I loved being able to just download it so I doubt I'd want to go back.

  41. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Bit puzzled ...

    by all the people whinging about ISP caps etc. Sure, CURRENTLY this is the landscape. But I don't think MS came up with little wheeze in a bubble. You can bet your bottom dollar they have scoped out the infrastructure implications. Personally I can hear ISPs rubbing their hands, as they devise a "gamer" bundle, to further gouge the customer.

    I suspect this move is coming, as it is trivial to come up with a system, such that EVERY SINGLE COPY of a game is UNIQUE. You'll have a proprietary system for blowing it onto memory (possibly a whizzy piece of kit that retailers could use) such that every single copy is protected with unique DRM ...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    dvds

    im gonna call BS on this, whilst the future is definitely downloads, we at least in the UK, dont have the network to support that at this time and for the forseable future.

    Cartridges? perhaps, but optical is still a massive part of consumers lives, yes you can stream that movie, but you already have the directors cut on DVD, as others have said, why would you want to download media that you already have on a package with limited data anyway....

    So again, whilst i can see this being a future of sorts, i dont see this being the case for the next 2 to 5 years.

    I cant see it having a BD drive, i think hell would freeze over first if MS was forced to pay out for a licence but a optical drive even if its just for movies is bound to be on it. if not then its pointless to me, my xbox is used more as a media centre than a games console (it looks cooler than a generic (resonable priced HTPC)

  43. Hooksie
    Thumb Up

    Great Idea!

    I said to my wife just a few months ago that I wondered if they would bring out a cut price ps3 without the Blu Ray drive. I already have a BluRay player so I don't need another one. Games stored on the hard drive would be much quicker loading presumably. Only drawback I can think of is space. If you have 50 games all at 16Gig or whatever that's a LOT of storage space. Cloud based games storage with some cut scene processing done by back end servers maybe?

  44. Mectron

    Smple solution

    Make it illegal for any games/music/movie company to prevent the reslae of scound hanf games/music/movies ALso make it illegal to chrage a fee for a secound hand to have online fuction. the penalty should be ONE BILLION PER COPY SOLD.

  45. Robert Grant

    Can't play my DVDs?

    Really? 360 is a brilliant backup DVD player.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No game lending.

    No backwards compatability,

    No used game market

    On the plus side of course, No Xbox disc scratching woes.

  47. Death_Ninja
    Thumb Up

    Isn't it obvious?

    What they are talking about is a combination of:

    1) Steam type pay and download - XBL already has this.

    2) A memory transfer card type thing, the blank device will be signed by your XBL account by inserting it in your machine and "formatting it" (which will apply your PKI key to it) and then a retail outlet will copy your purchased game onto it. The device is then connected back to your xbox when you get home and uploaded/decrypted to your hard disk. Maybe the device can even be signed in shop by you logging into a terminal with your XBL account userid and pw?

    #2 being the alternative for people with no decent internet connection.

    There won't be packagin, boxes, expensive duplication distribution etc etc

    Just like iTunes or Kindle... its really nothing new and not a great leap forward for MS.

    The only question mark is how big the transfer device will be - its not going to be a "memory card" its going to be a SSD I'd have thought.

    The issue will come when you are a non-internet user and you own 100 odd games - clearly the hard disk won't hold that many, so you need to swap them around, which means you always have to have the storage device - which probably means buying more than one.

    The storage device won't be for 90% of the user base, just the non-wired.

    Retail sales will bomb...

    In answer to the question how do you give a game to someone for a present - you buy them MS points cards... just like now or with Itunes or Kindle...

    For a tech savy crowd you really are a bit slow with this one.

    PS the 2nd hand market will of course die, but you knew that was coming one way or another didn't you?

    1. Citizen Kaned

      Re: Isn't it obvious?

      also...

      has anyone considered the tax implications? buy your games direct from MS and how does the UK get the tax? is MS a big tax avoider like the rest of the big companies? at least when people buy from a shop the shop has to employ people to sell them to you. that shop pays tax and the workers pay tax too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Isn't it obvious?

        Digital content, at least in the form of ebooks are taxable, I don't know how that works for other stuff, tax law is a bit of a mine field

  48. jason 7
    Facepalm

    More sensible by the day.

    Looks like Game are finally on the verge of folding.

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