Microsoft to Ditch X-Box Optical Drive: Report

The company will instead explore the use of digital distribution.

For years Microsoft has talked about digital distribution becoming the future of gaming. Having proven itself as a viable contender in the gaming race over the last 10 years, will the next Xbox be the first to drop physical discs? One major gaming blog seems to think so.

According to the esteemed MCV, a source under "the strictest NDA" (that's non-disclosure agreement) says the next Xbox will not have an optical disc.

Instead, the source insists the next Xbox will rely on a combination of solid-state drives and SD cards.

This new rumor is a stark 180 flip from a Kotaku report back in January that stated the next Xbox would upgrade its DVD drive to a Blu-ray one. However, a move to offering digital-only games meshes well with Kotaku's info that Microsoft would "incorporate some sort of anti-used game system."

With the rising popularity of digital distribution services such as Valve's Steam, EA's Origin and even Apple's App Store, it sounds like a perfect time to let the disc die.

We're at point in time where consumers aren't afraid of downloading a 20GB game, but are welcoming it as a flexible convenience. It's not just good for publishers who are tired of the used-game market snatching up secondhand sales, but also for the environment.

Think of all the plastic boxes, paper, discs, transportation and labor that won't be needed to release a game.

The only losers would be shops like Gamestop that make a huge profit from selling used games.

Ready as most people might be to drop the optical drive, there is still the question of backward-compatibility with Xbox 360 games. That would sting if there is no BC.

Other wild rumors for the next Xbox include a touchscreen controller, killer DVR functionality and a claim that the next Xbox will be six times more powerful than the Xbox 360.

What's what? We won't know for sure until Microsoft makes it official. Microsoft is expected to unveil a next-gen Xbox at E3 in June and launch it by holiday 2013.


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