Rumor: Next Xbox dropping the Optical Drive
If the current insider rumors are to be believed, the next iteration of Microsofts Xbox console will be dropping the Optical Drive in favor of Downloads / Memory Card Based System. While this would definitely make the console smaller and quieter (a move that would really make the Xbox a media hub that Microsoft wants it to be and well, it could be), it will mean that you’re probably going to need a pretty decent Broadband connection to get games at any reasonable speed, though they could take the Steam approach and preload any titles / content on the box for you to unlock on launch day (which would be nice!).
BUT, this has much more dire implications. This could mean the end of the high street games retailer. With the likes of Game already struggling and not stocking some of the most recent AAA titles due to cash flow problems, the lack of Optical Disks and the introduction of Downloads / read-write memory cards, effectively means the end of the second hand games market and quite possibly the new games market as well (assuming that a vast majority of customers will end up using the download route for convenience).
While the Xbox (and PS3) have had full game downloads for a while now, any new games have always hit the high street first in Disk form, removing this is a huge move and would also mean the end of “Special Editions” with extras packed in (which would make me sad). If AMD are to be believed the next consoles will have “Avatar Like” graphics which could be HUGE downloads, much bigger than a DVD can currently handle. With Memory Cards going so cheap these days (good 32GB SD card is less than 20euros online), it makes sense to move to a format like this.
I’m going to be watching this closely to see how it plays out!
What do you guys think?