Reports say Microsoft is ditching the optical drive to launch a disc-less Xbox One variant as early as May.
Rumors of such a device aren't new. First detailed by Thurrott's Brad Sams in November last year, Microsoft has been experimenting with an all-digital Xbox One S variant allegedly codenamed "Xbox Maverick," pegged for release sometime in the first quarter of this year.
Sources who approached Windows Central with new information are giving credence to past rumors. According to them, Microsoft will call the console "Xbox One S All-Digital Edition," with preorders starting as soon as mid-April toward a general availability a month later in May. Microsoft is poised to release it in all Xbox markets simultaneously.
Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
An Xbox One without an optical drive would mark the first of its kind for Microsoft, and would offer gamers the ability to ditch physical media completely in favor of switching to digital media and game licenses instead.
Ditching the drive would likely slash the price significantly, as well, especially as Microsoft takes more inroads toward offering greater access to its game library via cloud-based services such as Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud, the latter of which is dubbed as the future of gaming. No word on exact pricing at the moment, however, but the removal of the drive could decrease the asking price by up to $100. Whether this all-digital variant will sport a different design is something that also remains to be determined.
Xbox One 'Fortnite' Edition
The rumor also hints at an upcoming special edition Xbox One featuring Fortnite, which would apparently come with a custom Fortnite design rather than being a conventional game bundle. It's not certain, however, if this would be an Xbox One S or Xbox One X.
Suppose rumors of an all-digital Xbox One are true, this would represent Microsoft's broader plans that involve pivoting to digital entirely and treating games as a service. The next-generation Xbox Line, codenamed Scarlett, reportedly would focus on cloud-based experiences, making the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition a proto-Scarlett experiment to test whether kicking physical media is a good idea. Suffice it to say that its success could shape the future of Xbox, and perhaps impose new trends on the video game industry as a whole.
A great number of gamers still rely on discs, however, and not everyone has access to unlimited and high-speed internet. Both these factors sit beyond Microsoft's control, and it will be interesting to see how the Redmond company plans to address those drawbacks.