Microsoft thought about removing disc drive from Xbox One as late as mid-2013

The Xbox One has a Blu-ray disc drive for installing retail games to the console's 500 GB hard drive. It can also play Blu-ray and DVD movies and includes support for audio CDs. However, a new interview reveals that Microsoft had serious talks as late as mid-2013 that could have led the company to do something rather bold; launch the Xbox One without a disc drive at all.

In a new article at the Official Xbox Magazine website, Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer revealed that after E3 in June, "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 ... "

While a Xbox One hardware unit without a disc drive would have some advantages (manufacturing costs are reduced and performance is boosted) Spencer said that ultimately, "when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues." Therefore, Spencer said that Microsoft made what he thought was "the right decision" to keep the Blu-ray drive.

While the current version of the console has an optical drive, it's more than possible that future design versions of the Xbox One could ditch it, just like some units of the Xbox 360 didn't include a hard drive at first.

Source: OXM.co.uk | Image via Microsoft

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If you want to win the living room you NEED optical media for years and years to come (old ways die slowly for many people). But they should work with developers and publishers to try to get a new method of installations or something.

I agree too but from an engineer's point of view it's very painful to have to design around those bulky optical drives. That's probably who wanted to ditch it. There's so much more cool stuff you could put in that space than last decade's media reader.

I agree and disagree.
You don't necessarily need to use optical media.
Using some sort of memory cards (SD and so on) that was read-only to sell media on would make it possible to design much smaller hardware devices which would be cheaper to produce. They would make less noise, loading times would be MUCH faster and save-games (depending on the implementation) could be saved directly to the card for example.

But ditching any sort of "media" and relying on pure internet based storage and purchases would not work today. If the next Xbox shipped being able to purchase and download games online only it would flop and it would be the new Sega DreamCast instantly.

Cartridges worked back in the day. Storage cards (SD or whatever) would work just as fine and much better than optical media. But I guess they would be more expensive to produce? But on the flip-side the logistics would be much cheaper on the consoles and games since the devices could be much smaller, and due to storage cards being much smaller than optical media.

I was thinking they should just sell USB sticks to download the media =). That was my first thought for "new methods" anyways =). But people like to buy their bluerays and whatnot... And they should be able too. And I am sure they can phase them out if they sell bluetooth blueray players that can just sync to the xbone 2 or 3 down the road =).

Considering we are still waiting in Australian for many of the "features" that make the xbox one an all-in-one unit, I don't think removing blu-ray and DVD playback would have done them any favours. We already paid more here for less than the us gets on day one.

It would be a bit like removing tyres off cars before the hovering capability was readily accessible and available all over the world...

Not ready yet...

(At least in the US Market) There is 1 reason why we will NEVER have a diskless XB1, and that is
- Comcast
- Time Warner
- AT&T
- Charter

OK that's 4 reasons. However those 4 reasons control a major part of the national broadband in the USA and all have data caps and ridiculous overage prices for those data caps. Considering these 4 companies also manage the cable TV market and are doing everything in their power to limit people from cutting the cord, they will only make their limits tighter the more they feel limit they are losing their billions in the cable TV market.
Unless the government steps in and breaks up internet and cable companies (OH YA LIKE THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN) you will have caps that many people today get close to and have to deal with on a monthly basis. A household that already has a pc, laptop, couple of tablets, streams Netflix or Hulu, plus has an only online XB1 will have issues every month.
So that's why you will NEVER see an XB1 be an online only device.

Again that's just my opinion and it only covers the US market

I have to slightly agree with you on this one. I think you are assuming there would be no hard drive. That is not what Microsoft considered. They considered removing the Optical Disc Drive. There wouldn't be a problem every month at that point. You could have a problem in the month that you downloaded a game or two though depending on your data tier.

Charter has 100GB, 250GB, and 500GB bandwidth tiers depending on your data speed. On the low end, you could chew up your allotment of bandwidth downloading a few games in one month...aka Christmas.

They aren't talking about streaming games here...just forcing you to get your games the same way as you do with your phone/tablet...online. I wouldn't be surprised if they go some route like that in the future. I got my son a 3DS XL for Christmas. We will likely never buy a game on a cartridge for him. Those things get lost. Going digital outweighs the issues for us. That is the beauty of the current setup. You have a choice. We don't get rid of our games. My son plays them for years.

We all see that the BIG titles that everyone seems to want all get released close to each other. So no you wont have a run during slow game months but any month that has a couple of titles where I have to download 2 or 3 games in one month, plus online play (Xbox Live), plus updates to the games or the system, plus all the pc, laptop and tablet surfing, plus all the updates those systems use, plus streaming 1 or 2 movies a week on Netflix or Hulu.... and you have 100 GB limit because Charter is so fun....let me guess you will be really close.
The risk of upset customer base that will be blamed on MS even though these limits are set by the internet media companies is something they had to have considered.

So yes its about downloading, but its also about streaming, or does no one else use Xbox live for gaming, on top of the Video streaming and everything else.

And the monopoly is not properly regulated because if it was they would not be allowed to put in caps that are only there because they don't want to help you "cut the cord".... If they were not worried that 20% of Netflix users no longer pay for cable TV then they wouldn't cap the data.

I'm not buying a digital game ever again. I bought BF4 because I had the credit and haven't been able to play it because of server issues. Microsoft won't refund the money, EA won't. Not only was the game $60, you have to pay an extra $40 to play some of the map packs... the freaking console came out last month and there are already map packs! Anyway.... lol... my experience downloading the game (twice because Microsoft asked me to) was horrible... I have a fast connection and I was getting around 800-900 kbps. I expect at least 2 or 3Mbps from Microsoft. A driveless Xbox would be a bigger pain.

I purchased the Xbox One Day One Edition in November. The games are okay, but the kinect failed the week before Christmas. Support was great about sending a new one and got it last Monday.

I felt the system was slow at loading stuff. Not sure why, figure it would be FAST, but it was not. The TV experience is slow. Game loading is slow.

SO? I sold it. I'm done with Consoles and going to Stream.

You can change the IR speed in the settings for the TV control. It defaults to slow as some TVs won't respond if you send controls sequences too fast. As far as loading being slower than anything else, that's simply not the case as can easily be verified with a stop watch.

for the price of games these days they could at least put them on a usb stick or SD/Micro card instead of a disc this would remove the need to have added one thus save some space for extra cooling or a smaller case.

It doesn't make sense for console because the hard drive will fill up quickly than you can imagine. As for pc gamers, this is how most of us used to it for many years thanks to steam.

The PC will always teach console something new but it will try to adapt it ten years later.

As late as yesterday I was still considering not eating pie for an after dinner snack.. but then I decided to anyway since you know.. its pie.

Because reporting on things we didn't do because of reason is news.

I think the majority of buyers would rather see the Kinect go than the disk drive. The manufacturing cost of the Kinect is much more significant than an optical disc reader.

_dandy_ said,
I think the majority of buyers would rather see the Kinect go than the disk drive. The manufacturing cost of the Kinect is much more significant than an optical disc reader.

after getting an xbox one for christmas, and initially being in the 'kinect should be included' camp, I have changed my mind.

kinect should be a £100 accessory

it really isnt required to enjoy the console

Kinect is the best part being able to voice command and IR control my sound system and TV. Without it you just have a rehash of last decades console...or a PS4 if you prefer.

You don't need the camera on PS4 for voice control, and HDMI CEC works fine, no need for IR unless you have a VCR or something! Not really sure why the Xbox One doesn't use HDMI CEC over IR when available.

Geezy said,
You don't need the camera on PS4 for voice control, and HDMI CEC works fine, no need for IR unless you have a VCR or something! Not really sure why the Xbox One doesn't use HDMI CEC over IR when available.

This. After spending a over a week with my Xbox One, I get why Nilay Patel from The Verge was like, "IR blasters?...really?..." when talking to a few of the guys behind the Xbox One. My Chrome Cast can turn on my TV and switch to the correct input at the push of a button. It just seems like a silly omission that I hope can be added later. Although, it is fun watching my wife get frustrated every time she turns the One on and it shuts the TV off.

Exactly. Once again a very US-centric ideal that the rest of the world operates the way the US does.

Many countries around the world do not have unlimited data plans for their Internet connections (Australia being one of them), so you'd be paying an absolute fortune to download the game on top of what it actually costs. Internet connections also aren't universally great (Well, they were going to be in Australia, then we had an election, now we're ducked again).

Removing the ODD may have been fine and dandy in the US, but in counties like Australia it would've been a disaster and almost certainly guaranteed the PS4 the market.

Microsoft, stop thinking the US represents the world and think of other countries for a change. Not everyone lives in the US, nor are their environments like it (For good and bad).

That's silly. What would have been on the game shelves? Stores would be all Sony/Nintendo. Not to mention all that 30-50GB downloading! No game lending/sharing, and still the people with slow/no internet having problems. I'm glad they have physical media.

No optical disk doesn't mean no physical media. We would have instant game lending and sharing if we just put back the original design that Sony/Gamestop viral PR campaign killed. They needed to support their antiquated business model of having to actually give someone a physical object to share it.

Wish they had the guts to stick with it, even though personally I wouldn't have wanted it. It would just be interesting from a historical standpoint to see what such a system would have turned out like. Maybe they'd have to add another HDMI in, you can't have your cable box AND blu ray player both going through just one. They might have saved some cash ($20) by not having the drive in there and it would also be smaller. They shoulda stuck with that, man. I would never buy such a system from any vendor though if it has the mandatory online check in. Steam does it right.

Hello,

bidz said,
But they didn't. So why is this news?

Its news in the sense that they thought about it and we did not know.

Oh hey there! Any chance you could get back to me on our earlier discussion? Neowin has a useful feature, the icon on the top right of the page gives you a drop-down menu of recent replies to your posts so you can keep track of conversations. I'm very interested in the insight you may have on the topic. Posted here because I'm not sure if you would miss a private message since maybe you are unaware of the reply drop-down menu.

I do agree that SD would be a great medium for a console. The Tapwave Zodiac had used it.

Edited by Geezy, Jan 2 2014, 7:42pm :

Lord Method Man said,
LMAO and leave it with no acceptable way to watch movies, would have killed the "One."

But I thought it was a games console. Why be concerned with movies? /s

Wow, so that unveil could have actually turned out worse for them?? That guy leaving for Zynga was the best thing that ever happened to Microsoft...

msn_crazy_100 said,
Why don't they just sell games on USB sticks? Then you can still buy a physical copy.

MUCH more expensive material costs for starters...

msn_crazy_100 said,
Why don't they just sell games on USB sticks? Then you can still buy a physical copy.
Unless the USB thumbdrive had a write-protect switch on it, it would too easy to accidentally wipe the thing and then you are screwed.

If I could pay an extra few pound or so per game to have it on a USB stick rather than a BR disk I'd be a happy person. That way, game patches can be stored to the same USB.

That's the beauty of it. You can buy your own external storage device in whatever size you choose and store whatever you want on it.
MS has already said they will implement this for the Xbox One in the near future.

I'd rather have one big drive to store my entire library than have shelves full of slip cases. Sure the error factor could be that you lose everything if the drive crashes, but as long as you can back up to the cloud, I don't see a problem.

I think you meant to say: "PC gamers CAN manage without an optical drive, so why can't console gamers?" Steam proves it.

Thief000 said,
I think you meant to say: "PC gamers CAN manage without an optical drive, so why can't console gamers?" Steam proves it.
And I think you meant to say "*some* PC gamers CAN manage without an optical drive" and I will add "*some* PC gamers use their machines for more than gaming and utilize optical drives still."

I guess if you watch movies on you PC but there's not a whole lot of use otherwise. Even at work it never gets used anymore since all the vendors went to downloadable distributions.

Thief000 said,
I think you meant to say: "PC gamers CAN manage without an optical drive, so why can't console gamers?" Steam proves it.
That is exactly what I meant. :-)

I only just noticed the typo.

testman said,
Er... they can (Steam).
Indeed. I download games through Steam (and Origin) and haven't used an optical drive in years.

The first "can't" was meant to be "can".

greenwizard88 said,
Always online internet connection, non shareable games, they definitely had a reversal.

No, they eliminated the game sharing which is the reason for the 24 hour check in. That's removing a function and not reversing anything. Basically we all got screwed to keep Gamestop's antiquated business model viable for a few more years.

Cause and effect bro. If there was no CD drive, games would be tied to an account. That requires online access to download games, as well as to authenticate the games (hence, a 24/7 internet requirement).

I don't see any way around that, unless Microsoft was about to release a console that didn't have any DRM on it.

Downloaded games can be registered to the hardware ID and do not require the Internet login to be active. That's why you have to do that license transfer thing if you replace the console. The only reason for it to be active is sharing your games with friends. You can do it now even on the 360 but you have to actually log into their console with your account. The sharing would allow you to temporarily loan out your license to someone else's account. Of course gamestop doesn't want that because they make a ton of money shuffling disks between people.

greenwizard88 said,
hence, a 24/7 internet requirement
The Steam offline mode works, they should have planned something like that. Steam also lets you backup your games.

freak180 said,
I guess blu-rays will no longer be playable then

This. If you want to take over the living room, it is asinine to not support the current movie format... lol

The current movie format is online streaming. If a person is a full-blown home theater enthusiast, they wouldn't be using the Xbox One Blu-ray player, but something that as a stand alone that costs $500.

M_Lyons10 said,

This. If you want to take over the living room, it is asinine to not support the current movie format... lol

That's why they haven't done it yet. Many people are still dependant on OD's for their movie consumption. But Blu-Ray never attained the market DVD had after the same amount of time and digital is rapidly making it obsolete and equals the rate or has already surpassed it. Quality wise it's not quite there yet, but for most consumers, the ease of use with streaming outweighs the OD's quality and HEVC will surely improve on it a lot more.

Yeah, online streaming and you can kiss any kind of picture quality goodbye. I've tried them all, MS, iTune, NetFlix, the pseudo-HD they are offering IS FAR from the quality you have on Blu-Ray.

Compression kills streaming at the moment.

DClark said,
The current movie format is online streaming. If a person is a full-blown home theater enthusiast, they wouldn't be using the Xbox One Blu-ray player, but something that as a stand alone that costs $500.
So the "full-blown home theater enthusiast" is the only type that matters? Other people likely want/need the BD playback capability and don't want to spend big big $$$ for additional equipment. They could of course just go buy a $75 BD player, but the convenience is there in the console and it's not like the only use for the drive is movies.

They can't remove the disk completely... How would you download 20-100 gigs of data before each game start? Or constantly stream in each and every asset...

They are referring to the DVD disc drive...not the hard disc. I would like the ability to easily drop in a 1 TB SSD.

I'm digital all the way. My son and I each have an Xbox One, and we can share the games between our two accounts quite easily such that we can play them at the same time together online. Try doing that off of one purchase on any other platform.

Optional extra. I don't think it was a completely bad idea, because there are more and more people just using online services to have video delivered to them. It's just that we're not ready for a disc-less console right now.

It will happen though.

freak180 said,
What about the option of playing Blu-rays or DVDs??? Thank god the wised up!

You could make the same argument about this as people are about Kinect - why force people to buy it if some won't use it. Sell it as an optional extra. It's a poor argument IMO, but you can make it.

spenser.d said,

You could make the same argument about this as people are about Kinect - why force people to buy it if some won't use it. Sell it as an optional extra. It's a poor argument IMO, but you can make it.

The difference is games are not developed around the optical drive for this generation. It's going to run off the hard drive either way so it doesn't matter if you don't have one. On the other hand making a controller type optional equipment means developers really can't use it as they can't depend on it being there.

I still think it's too soon to remove the optical as it's a very popular way to distribute movies.

I forsee it actually happening to a future iteration of the Xbox One, as an optional SKU. That said, there are two potential pitfalls:

1. Internet bandwidth could still be poor for a significant amount of people
2. Prices on the online store really need to match retail prices

Regardless of the massive price difference between physical / digital titles i think people who have slow internet connections might have been a little upset about that.

Where i live i'm on 125meg cable, where as a friend two streets away is stuck on 3meg ADSL.

Mr. Hand said,
They probably don't like the Roku either. So what?

You can still stream stuff acceptably on 3mbit ADSL - so using a Roku to watch Netflix or similar is no major issue.

Downloading a game that weighs in at like 8GB - is a whole different ballgame. Updates for Battlefield 3 were a small inconvenience for friends on normal broadband.. for me they meant I simply couldn't play that evening, if an update was required as it would be hours for it to download.

I know because I'm stuck on 3mbit ADSL - and there is literally no other choice, other than to move house. Which, after 2.5 years of suffering, I'll be doing very soon..

Chicane-UK said,

You can still stream stuff acceptably on 3mbit ADSL - so using a Roku to watch Netflix or similar is no major issue.

Downloading a game that weighs in at like 8GB - is a whole different ballgame. Updates for Battlefield 3 were a small inconvenience for friends on normal broadband.. for me they meant I simply couldn't play that evening, if an update was required as it would be hours for it to download.

I know because I'm stuck on 3mbit ADSL - and there is literally no other choice, other than to move house. Which, after 2.5 years of suffering, I'll be doing very soon..

I'm in the same boat and it does suck. BF4 weighed in at 27GB and it took me several days (at least) to download it to even play.

shinji257 said,

I'm in the same boat and it does suck. BF4 weighed in at 27GB and it took me several days (at least) to download it to even play.

Thankfully I've pretty much jacked in gaming now - but yeah, even getting Battlefield 3 down on Origin was a painful experience

Place I'm moving to can get 100mbit+ internet - needless to say it's my first thing to order when I get my keys.

This only works as an optional sku. And only works if you can download the game a week before launch like on steam but only gets activated at midnight on the launch day.

I'd be fine with this, if they would make the digital prices prices atleast equal to that of physical amazon prices..

I agree and retail at some point will be gone for anything but the console and accesorry SKU's anyway. Whether that'll be in the current generation's lifespan of 5 years, I doubt it TBH, but in the next one I can totally see it happening for many countries where the broadband penetration is high enough. Then digital prices will be far more competitive.
For the moment MS could release a cheaper optional SKU, like neonspark suggests, to test consumer adoption. They could have already done this with the Xbox 360.
If people still really want an optical drive to play their current library, they could buy an accessory like the HD-DVD player was to the Xbox 360.

Edited by Thief000, Jan 2 2014, 2:47pm :

Xerax said,
I'd be fine with this, if they would make the digital prices prices atleast equal to that of physical amazon prices..

I'm sure they'd lower the price as much as DRM helped lowering them on any platform. That's what EA taught us in all these years.

I don't believe that digital prices are high to keep retail partners happy. Amazon allows you to buy a digital code for many PS4 games, and those prices match the deals they are doing on the physical media. The digital SHOULD be cheaper to get people to buy digital and stop paying $5 less for a used version of the game at GameStop.

I hate that I can't participate in any of the pre-order specials that all of the retailers put on. Hopefully Microsoft will end up with digital redemption codes for their games like they had planned on all along with the discs. I just don't need or want the disc. So many of the games require an install anyway these days.

There's just no reason it can't be like buying a game for Steam on amazon. Get a code and plug it into your console, or hold the cool bar code up to the Kinect to register the game. If Steam and the PS4 can do it, so can the XB1.