MCV is reporting this morning that they have confirmation that the next Xbox will not have a disc drive. Instead, MCV say that “it will offer compatibility with some sort of interchangeable solid-state card storage.” It is also confirmed in the MCV report that the new Xbox will be launched in 2013, though there is no confirmed date for the public reveal, though this years E3 is a possiblity.
If this does come to pass, I expect it will be yet another nail in the coffin of specialist retailers like Game if they are unable to speed their transition into a digital distributor. But the question then arises about whether Microsoft would allow companies like Game to have a store front on the dashboard of the new Xbox? I find that very unlikely to believe at the moment.
Of course, with the rumoured solid-state storage reader we might see something akin to the Vita, where every game is available digitally along with a retail release on proprietary SD cards. That would be a wise course of action, as the implications of removing physical game media entirely on the retail industry, and on consumer choice would be drastic. While Game certainly has major issues right now, they have always offered casual gamers the chance to trade in titles against the cost of new games, which are often very prohibitive when you consider the troubled economy.
This story raises more questions about the landscape of how we play our games, the act of selling games and even on broadband suppliers. The more digital things become, the more ISPs are going to have to do to offer the kind of service gamers would expect. If gamers are hitting download caps on a regular basis when downloading games and streaming videos on their consoles, that will cause trouble for plenty of people.
Interesting times ahead, E3 is going to be huge.
Image from MCV.