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Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer: Ditching physical disks is "not a strategic thing for us"

phil spencer

There's been some questions about Microsoft's future plans for offering Xbox games on physical disks. One of the company's big AAA 2024 first-party games, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, will be released by Microsoft as a digital-only title for $50 on May 21. Also, as part of Microsoft's recent gaming layoffs, one unconfirmed report claimed the company closed down its division that was responsible for releasing physical disk Xbox games to retail stores.

In a new interview with Game File, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer was asked about the company's commitment to releasing Xbox games on disk. Spencer replied that while Microsoft is "supportive of physical media", he stated that the majority of Xbox gamers are buying their games digitally.

Having said that, it sounds like Microsoft does not have plans to abandon physical media for gaming. Spencer said:

But I will say our strategy does not hinge on people moving all-digital . . . And getting rid of physical, that's not a strategic thing for us.

As far as the reports of Microsoft closing down divisions to help release physical Xbox games to retail stores, Spencer says this was part of the gaming division's realignment, adding:

So we have teams that are in charge of physical retail, inclusive of selling games in physical outlets. So that's what the team action was. It wasn't about us getting rid of the capability.

Microsoft already sells a console, the Xbox Series S, that lacks a disk drive. For the future, Spencer points out that the disk-based Xbox Series X and the disk version of Sony's PlayStation 5 console " have kind of become the last consumer electronic device that has a drive." He continued:

And this is a real issue, just in terms of the number of manufacturers that are actually building drives and the cost associated with those. And when you think about cogs that we're going to go put in a console—and as you have fewer suppliers and fewer buyers—the cost of the drive does have an impact.

This might be of some concern to people who prefer the freedom to purchase games on disk so it gives them the freedom to play those titles, even if the digital editions of those games are no longer available.

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