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Microsoft: There could have been a disc drive-less Xbox One

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 03 Jan 2014 18:04 User comments (25)

Microsoft: There could have been a disc drive-less Xbox One Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer has noted that the company considered a "purely disc-less console" as late as last year's E3 event, but ultimately decided to go with the optical disc drive we have in the current generation of the console.
"Obviously, after the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change," says Spencer. "There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues.

"So we decided - which I think was the right decision - to go with the Blu-ray drive and give the people an easy way to install a lot of content. From some of those original thoughts, you saw a lot of us really focusing on the digital ecosystem you see on other devices - thinking of and building around that."


Microsoft had initially announced that the Xbox One would require an always-on Internet connection, with the console phoning home every 24 hours. Backlash was swift for the decision, and Microsoft turned away from it almost immediately after Sony capitalized on the mistake.

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25 user comments

13.1.2014 18:29

Good thing they didn't...

24.1.2014 6:20

Oh lord if they did I would never buy it.


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Lets renegotiate them.

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34.1.2014 14:53

If there is a next gen after this one I'd lay a lot of money on it being disc-free whoever produces it...and for regions with ancient net infrastructure they will be the ones looking for an add-on drive & special editions of games produced on disc.

46.1.2014 13:09

I haven't use an Xbox 360 in a couple years now and haven't bought an X1. This also (obviously) means that I haven't been on LIVE either.

So with that being said, let me ask you current owners; other than LIVE, where else would you be able to buy and download digital content other than from LIVE?

I'm asking because I'm seeing it this way; when has LIVE / MS Store even been noted for having great deals / sales on any of their content?

Going digital-only would mean the end of buying games when retailers have sales. No more xx% off buys. No more buy 2 get the 3rd free. No more rentals or used games.

Your only option to buy games; LIVE, where every game is way over priced.

57.1.2014 6:34

Quote:
Your only option to buy games; LIVE, where every game is way over priced
...that's not true, both Sony & Microsoft both have deals & bargain sales on their on-line services from time to time & over time those outlets will evolve & develop just like any other retail outlet does.

Also, being able to hook-up any storage you choose (& the record of your previous buys) means you don't have to risk losing any of your purchases (at least on Xbox....Sony does similar but doesn't allow any external storage on PS4 to operate in the same way, yet, but I expect that to change).

67.1.2014 9:51

Originally posted by Interestx:
Quote:
Your only option to buy games; LIVE, where every game is way over priced
...that's not true, both Sony & Microsoft both have deals & bargain sales on their on-line services from time to time & over time those outlets will evolve & develop just like any other retail outlet does.

Well, I guess I should have stated it a bit better. When I said "way overpriced", what I meant was as compared to other retailers / etailers prices.

I'll make an example. When a new game launches gamers have dozens of options when it comes down to who to buy thier physical media from. Because there are always so many sellers, gamers never have to pay suggested retail prices.

But now if a console manufacturer were to go digital-only, that manufacturer just cut out all those other options that gamers had when it came down to who to buy their games from. So they have no option but to buy from LIVE or PSN.

With PC gaming, digital downloads work because the PC is an open system. Being so means that there are MANY digital sellers to buy from. Having so much choice creates competition between sellers which means lower prices and better deals for the gamers.

Consoles are a closed ecosystem. That means that console gamers would have no option at all but to buy from LIVE or PSN. Being locked in like that would mean MS and Sony could set their own pricing.



78.1.2014 13:14

Quote:
Consoles are a closed ecosystem. That means that console gamers would have no option at all but to buy from LIVE or PSN. Being locked in like that would mean MS and Sony could set their own pricing.


But this assumes access (for selling games) will always remain unchanged from it's (early beginnings now.

I just don't see any reason to believe that (unlike almost everything else) will not change.

Besides, this is still something regarding the gen after this one.
I think that is clearly way too far off for anyone to imagine they can make such definte negative statements as if this is the only credible possibility.

In fact I'd suggest that the moves to open both new consoles to indy devs illustrates quite nicely how things, some might once have said could and would never happen, happen for the better.

I guess we'll see in about 8 - 10yrs time.....if there actually is to be another gen of anything quite fitting the description 'game console' (I have my doubts....as recent news about new powerful chips for the next HD TVs which play close to console games but without a console indicates)

88.1.2014 13:39

Originally posted by Interestx:
Quote:
Consoles are a closed ecosystem. That means that console gamers would have no option at all but to buy from LIVE or PSN. Being locked in like that would mean MS and Sony could set their own pricing.


But this assumes access (for selling games) will always remain unchanged from it's (early beginnings now.

I just don't see any reason to believe that (unlike almost everything else) will not change.

Besides, this is still something regarding the gen after this one.
I think that is clearly way too far off for anyone to imagine they can make such definte negative statements as if this is the only credible possibility.
This topic is about how MS was considering going disc-less with the Xbox One, so that's all I was making reference too; this new generation and the effect on it's users if the consoles did launch disc-less.

I do agree with you; trying to predict the future of console gaming is futile. In one hand we have professionals expressing how this could very well be the last generation for the traditional "gaming console", and in the other we have the actual manufacturers doing good and posting profits, so why quit.

It's just too hard to say. The tech just keeps evolving. With the launch of this new generation of consoles we also see tech such as handhelds which can stream to the hdtv and Steam Boxes bringing pc gaming in a console form-factor.




98.1.2014 23:38

More damage control from Microsoft.

(It's not the name I'd call my company)

:)


Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

109.1.2014 7:16

The amusing thing (to me) is that we have seen Microsoft repeatedly respond to what the market does (or does not) want.

Yes, they are a multi-billion making corporation but the fact is to claim they always do what people do not want is clearly false.

I'd go as far as saying that even had Xbox One been disc-free the scenarios, that claim it would have been as dire as some propose, are just as unlikely.

They are in the business of making money, turning people off your product - at a time when several new routes into gaming are opening up besides the standard Playstation competition - is just not credible, in my view....and I think so far the early history of Xbox One illustrates this perfectly.
Every corporation tries to maximise their profits & sometimes they come out with daft ideas, that's only to be expected, they all do... but at least with Microsoft we can see that they often listen & respond quickly to potential customers.

I have no axe to grind either way (and no connection whatsoever with Microsoft, other than having been & being a satisfied user of their software) but the standard vilifying comments (usually aimed at Microsoft alone as if they are unique in corporate awfulness) are such a bore.


119.1.2014 9:51

I don't think MS is "...unique in corporate awfulness" but I certainly think they dropped the ball this iteration of the console wars... and they know it.


Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

129.1.2014 14:11

We're in a bit of a transitional time for consoles. People would love to have access any and every game without having to leave their couches but they also don't want to sign away any rights of possession they feel with owning a physical copy of the games.

I for one have come to terms with this this on the PC. Every game I get is through Steam anymore.

139.1.2014 17:57

Quote:
but they also don't want to sign away any rights of possession they feel with owning a physical copy of the games.
I think subscription TV is fast eroding this idea, in my view it shows that so long as the library stays enormous & varied & the subscription isn't stupid people are happy to pay without ever really owning content.

I used to think people would only ever really be interested in owning their own film collection but as the success of subscription TV on cable & satellite as well as Lovefilm, Netflix etc proves for a huge chunk of the domestic market they couldn't care less but are happy to effectively 'rent' access.

I see no reason why gaming won't go along similar lines, physical copy will still be available of course but over time become a shrinking element of how most get the content.

So long as the companies stay responsive to the market I don't think there's too much to frighten ourselves (or pretend to be frightened) over.

@ Jemborg

Don't you think, being less than 3 months in and with sales recently announced as being 3+ million so far it's more than just a tad early to imagine the Xbox One 'dropped the ball'?
I agree they gave themselves a job to do, but they listened & stopped the things so many claimed to be worried about.

I think we'll know in about 4yrs time how this gen will have panned out, not before less than even 4mths is up :P

1410.1.2014 0:23

Friend, MS/XBone will do ok... it has a fan base that will stick with them because of loyalty plus other X360 users with an established network of XB LIVE play buddies. And there are those who genuinely want an "entertainment console" over a gaming console.

Ok, so let's disregard their back-pedalling, in four years time the XBone will have of course improved but it's competing against another console that will outstrip that considerably because of better architecture. Already major cross-platform titles that appear in 720p in the X1 are in 1080p on the PS4... that's not promising at all in the first salvoes of the next gen console war is it?

If you know APUs, faster system RAM creates a substantial improvement to performance. MS had a chance to go with 4GB of GDDR5 like Sony were planning but instead decided to go for more DDR3 because of a desire to manipulate, or at least be central to, and take a cut in, ALL their users entertainment needs. Gaming took a back seat... hence 8GB of DDR3.

A range of bespoke components are meant to compensate for that somewhat. However, when Sony took the path of more complicated (and expensive) programming with the PS3 they at least had the substantial Cell processor to back it up.

Now, of course, Sony would like to manipulate, be central to and take a cut in all your entertainment too, just like MS, but they kept the focus on gaming first. Sorry but 50% more gfx cores, 8GB GDDR5 and simpler programming beat 8GB DDR3 and bespoke components (that aren't even performing to spec). Bear in mind whatever advantages that XBone enjoys because of it's HDMI passthru can easily be counted by Sony popping one on a future model of the PS4.

I know you're interested in being fair and perhaps 'dropped the ball' is a bit severe as you say (it was only shorthand for the above). And I'm sure people will have fun with it but as a X360 owner I've been very disappointed in this iteration.

About four years after the it's release I finally bought a S/H PS3... I can't see myself doing that for the XBone.

And yes, regardless that I find the title "Xbox One" quite pretentious, even arrogant, I could not, in all conscience, even jokingly, recommend one to a gamer.

Regards,
Jem

PS: I left off discussion about the various peripherals because I believe it's not significant to the core argument but I acknowledge that others might feel differently about that aspect.



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This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Jan 2014 @ 0:27

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

1510.1.2014 3:27

@ Jemborg

It will get better in time....but last I saw only 4.5gb of the PS4's RAM is open to devs right now.

I also think people are making mountains out molehills regarding the specs.
I've seen both side by side now and there is precious little difference if any in how they look....and that business of Xbox scaling to 1080p verses a native res of 1080p has opinion divided.
There are as many reports saying the Xbox version looks better as looks worse.
Nothing in it for all the big talk in my view,

1610.1.2014 4:40

Originally posted by Interestx:

It will get better in time....but last I saw only 4.5gb of the PS4's RAM is open to devs right now.

I believe it's a similar deal for the XBone.

'big talk' hey? :)

Specs... You did follow that what I said was the XBone has opted for more complex programming in marked contrast to the PS4? Just making sure.

"Nothing in it..." have it your own way mate.

I know 1080p is what I would expect from a next gen console off the bat. Anyway, future games on the XBone are reported to run in 900p, better from my point of view but what from yours? A waste of time? Pointless? Nothing in it? Stick with 720p?

As it was, res was just an example. I thought that was clear. There are other examples. Both machines will improve in framerate, effects etc. but as far as I reckon, based on their hardware foundations, the gap in performance over time will widen not stay consistent.

I don't know how many ways I can say this:
Originally posted by Jemborg:
...I'm sure people will have fun with it but as a X360 owner I've been very disappointed in this iteration.


This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Jan 2014 @ 4:46

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

1710.1.2014 7:15

Well, my view is that it will end up to the vast majority of fair-minded people just like this gen & most previous ones.

One machine a little bit better in some areas and the other a little bit better in others ...but overall with very little to separate them.

I've seen both and so far I have to say neither has stood out as a vast leap over what has gone before, better yes, but nothing spectacular....and with 1080p TVs being what these are aimed at primarily I think that is only to be expected.

As far as RAM is concerned I've seen 4.5gb mentioned as available for PS4 & 5gb (+ the eSRAM) for the Xbox One.
It's also true that the DDR3 verses DDR4 (one number higher must always be better) argument is way too simplistic.
DDR3 is better at some things than DDR4 just as the reverse is also true.....and both of these machines also aim to do more than just game.

Theoretical spec-gazing is all well & good but in practical terms I just don't see it myself. The differences are too small and PCs are already far ahead.

As for your point about the Xbox being the more complex & difficult to program for?
The fact that both are mini-PCs effectively has gone a long way to make this a minor & highly relative point.
Again, I doubt that it amounts to much at all.

Give it 4 - 5yrs and I think you'll find the same situation as now.
Most games looking very very similar with both machines having a few slightly stand-out titles over the other but each also having a few slightly poorer versions of multi-platform games.

1810.1.2014 9:43

Originally posted by Interestx:

One machine a little bit better in some areas and the other a little bit better in others ...but overall with very little to separate them.

I thought so last time... but this time around you're wrong.


Originally posted by Interestx:
As for your point about the Xbox being the more complex & difficult to program for?
The fact that both are mini-PCs effectively has gone a long way to make this a minor & highly relative point.
Again, I doubt that it amounts to much at all.
Bollocks! It's because of the bespoke circuitry on the APU to compensate for the DDR3.

I'm fair minded! I often defended the X360. I totally had misgivings about the difficulty (and expense) of programming the PS3 way back... and I was proved correct.

I build expensive gaming rigs Interestx and I'm bloody good at it. I get how important gfx and fast RAM is. I can't diddle about it... thousands of dollars are involved... I have to get it right. I don't have a dog in this race mate.

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

1910.1.2014 10:57

Originally posted by Jemborg:
Originally posted by Interestx:

One machine a little bit better in some areas and the other a little bit better in others ...but overall with very little to separate them.

I thought so last time... but this time around you're wrong.


Originally posted by Interestx:
As for your point about the Xbox being the more complex & difficult to program for?
The fact that both are mini-PCs effectively has gone a long way to make this a minor & highly relative point.
Again, I doubt that it amounts to much at all.
Bollocks! It's because of the bespoke circuitry on the APU to compensate for the DDR3.

I'm fair minded! I often defended the X360. I totally had misgivings about the difficulty (and expense) of programming the PS3 way back... and I was proved correct.

I build expensive gaming rigs Interestx and I'm bloody good at it. I get how important gfx and fast RAM is. I can't diddle about it... thousands of dollars are involved... I have to get it right. I don't have a dog in this race mate.

..... >>
..... <<

Whats the fastest ramm I can get for a ADM 8 core CPU?
======
Back to the subject at hand I think the Xbone handicapped itself trying to have the strange cache system they are using.

The PS4 seems more straight forward and uses slightly better hardware which means easier to program for when you get down to it.

Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Lets renegotiate them.

---
Check out my crappy creations
http://zippydsmlee.deviantart.com/

2010.1.2014 12:12

Originally posted by Jemborg:


Bollocks! It's because of the bespoke circuitry on the APU to compensate for the DDR3.
But that bespoke circuitry either will or won't be employed in a meaningful way and in the end I don't think to most it adds up to a hill of beans.
Console games are hardly the most demanding as it is even now at the start of this latest gen.
Certainly not when most will be played on a 2nd bedroom TV or even the homes main and often unremarkable TV.

Gamers might find the edge of the envelope (at least in consoles) a big deal but I doubt Joe Public is quite so fascinated or notices.
The fact is both machines will look great, better than the current gen and in most respects identical.

Originally posted by Jemborg:
I'm fair minded!
I'm really not suggesting you are not & apologies if it looked that way.
I do think people close up to all of this just don't get how the seemingly big differences they say they see in shadow detail, draw distances etc just pass most by, especially when the overall look is still very good.

It also discounts the screen abilities they are played on, as much as anything I think this is often very much over-looked.

Originally posted by Jemborg:
I totally had misgivings about the difficulty (and expense) of programming the PS3 way back... and I was proved correct.
....and yet with the eventual price-cuts & even tho it took many years it came good for them, in sales numbers at least if not actual total end-to-end life-span profits.

Due to the use this time around of more 'off the shelf' components that will be unlikely this time but in sales numbers I see XB1 going much the same way.
Let's not forget with claims that XB1 has posted 3+ million sales so far & PS4 posted 4+ million both are off to excellent starts.
In short I think we'll see 2 very successful consoles all in all with one slightly edging the other over their life-span.

Having said that, the fly in the ointment is what is going to be increasingly happening with TVs.
Non-console gaming is, I think, set to get a larger & larger slice of the pie.
You only have to look at mobile/cell phones & tablets to see that - and how little the general public care about the nth degree.

Originally posted by Jemborg:
I don't have a dog in this race mate.
Me neither. that's a silly notion.
I always end up with the top 2 consoles (not forgetting the tablet, phone etc).


2110.1.2014 17:57

I wonder if they have fixed the RROD issue with the new xbos - ie using lead solder now , using proper standoffs for the mainboard/heatsinks - better board to avoid the heat warping the motherboard and better ventilation.

It will be interesting to see what defects appear on the new console.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Jan 2014 @ 17:57

2210.1.2014 20:07

Quote:
ie using lead solder now , using proper standoffs for the mainboard/heatsinks
Nobody is using lead solder anymore, not even Sony, it's environmentally damaging & banned in the EU, quite rightly.

If there's anything to say about the old RROD & the cause (excess heat in the early versions of Xbox 360) it's that the XB1 is well cooled & large enough (in contrast to the smaller PS4) that whatever issues it may or may not face heat isn't likely to be a problem.

2311.1.2014 0:14

@ Zippy

I don't know much about the AM3+ boards but the best I can see for the 990 chipset is Support for DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1866mHz.

2400Mhz DDR3 Cas10 on new Intel or FM2+ is the best that I can do atm. It costs about 1/3 more than 1600mHz- which is fair and reflects the increased performance. 2133mHz can come in at Cas11+ so it's worth it to go for the 2400mHz imo.

(I should mention that the 2400MHz ram was rated at Cas11, but the Asrock board - according to CPU-Z - is running it at Cas10 even though the XMS profile is set in BIOS. I got my client to spend the extra $6 for the slightly more expensive 2400mHz (same brand) maybe that's why.)

New AMD FM2+ (APU) boards are coming in at 2600mHz DDR3... I haven't seen that speed RAM for sale. So maybe you are expected to OC to that with 2400mHz DDR3?

The new AMD Kaveri class APUs reportedly have an onboard mem controller for ddr3 and ddr5 (but not both at once).

It's weird.... and disappointing. The industry is planning on moving to system ddr4, I understand, whereas I was under the mistaken impression we would be skipping ddr4 and going straight to ddr5 system ram. I suppose they expect to stretch that out as long as they can before finally moving to ddr5 system RAM ... which makes me fume frankly. Because it means we, the home market, have to move through another 8+yrs before we do the bloody obvious. Meanwhile PCs & PC gaming possibly dies in the ass due to their greed and myopia. DDR5 RAM is definitely coming down in price faster than expected and skipping DDR4 would place further competitive pricing on it. Instead we have to go through this contrived consumer DDR4 phase... I'm f***ing pissed off about it Zip. Cheers.


@Interestx

Well yeah, sure it came good for the PS3 eventually but I don't think they thought it would take so long and be so expensive. (At first the PS3 only gamed in SD!) The final PS3 exclusives looked awesome though e.g. the Drakes' Uncharted series.

But, looking at the respective machines' hardware configurations, it's my opinion this time around that that gap will not be closed but widened over time.

I don't believe the programming issues with the XBone will be as extreme as the PS3's. I don't think two separate compilers are involved for instance. But it remains to be seen what the long term impact is... they certainly have to use them.

I don't mean to suggest the situation is bad either.

And, if it came to it, if 'Joe Public' asked me what console to get I would suggest they get what their best friends are getting, esp if they are into online gaming with them.

As far as I'm concerned, I can't see myself getting both consoles this time. If I want to play the XBone exclusives (and I'm sure they'll look great) I'll borrow yours, ok? :)



@ Omendata
I can't believe you said that man, as if either company would allow that to happen again.

Though it was more extreme for the first X360s, early PSs were not without their teething problems either. I know... I worked in a console repair shop.



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This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Jan 2014 @ 0:21

Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

2411.1.2014 7:17

Originally posted by Jemborg:
If I want to play the XBone exclusives (and I'm sure they'll look great) I'll borrow yours, ok? :)
NP mate...but you'll have to wait until the first revision appears for me to get one of my own - and that applies to PS4 as well ;)



Originally posted by Jemborg:
@ Omendata
I can't believe you said that man, as if either company would allow that to happen again.
It also ignores not only the huge improvement the slim Xbox 360 is but also the steps taken to ensure XB1 runs cool.

Trying to shoe-horn the lead-free solder issue into an Xbox bash, when nobody is allowed to use it anymore, is pretty amusing.

Originally posted by Jemborg:
Though it was more extreme for the first X360s, early PSs were not without their teething problems either. I know... I worked in a console repair shop.
Indeed, there's now more than a small number of PS3 issues out there, quite a few laser/reading ones from what I'm reading.
I just hope my slim is one of the less effected models.


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2511.1.2014 10:41

Not me... I've got a fatty! :P


Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

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