In the wake of the news that Sony will not be attending E3 next year, Microsoft’s hardware plans for 2019 will likely be a huge win for the brand and for gamers. The company is planning to release an updated console next year, but this device will not be in the Scarlett family, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.
The Scarlett devices are Microsoft’s next-gen consoles and are not expected until 2020 but in 2019, the company is planning to release a disc-less console. And if this is making you nervous because you have a large collection of physical discs for your current Xbox, Microsoft has you covered.
In addition to the new console, there will be a ‘disc-to-digital’ program that, as the name states, turns your physical games into digital downloads. The idea is that you can take your disc to a participating retailer (like the Microsoft store) and trade in your disc for a digital download.
The goal with the new console is to lower the price point for the hardware. Currently, it costs about $299 to buy into the Xbox One family of devices, Microsoft is looking to lower that price by possibly as much as $100; the new console price point is expected to be $200 or less.
If you like this kind of information, this content was uncovered while writing my upcoming book about Surface called Beneath a Surface (pre-order), which contains this information, along with the story of how Microsoft built its billion-dollar hardware brand.
In addition, the company also has a revised Xbox One S SKU that is targeted for later in the year that focuses solely on cost reduction but does feature a disc-drive for those who still prefer the traditional way to buy your games. Microsoft is moving forward very carefully with this product as it knows that a sizeable portion of its users do prefer to buy physical games and not download them.
As for Scarlett, Microsoft is still trying to decide if that console will include a disc drive but should be making the final decision here shortly.
Under Phil Spencer, Microsoft is investing heavily in its Xbox brand and announced the acquisition of a couple of new gaming studios over the weekend. When you pair this new hardware with the upcoming streaming service the company is developing, the road ahead for Xbox fans is incredibly bright.
With this new Xbox One S ‘slim’, and I don’t know what it’s retail name will be yet, the company is working on finding new ways to lower the cost of entry into the Xbox family without sacrificing the core gaming experience. Don’t be surprised if the company trims up other aspects of the console to help save a few pennies, although I don’t expect storage to be on the chopping block at this time.
As for when the console will become available? I had initially heard in the spring of 2019 was the target as this device is well on its path to production. As for when Microsoft will greenlight the product for retail distribution, that’s still to be determined and even though they could still cancel the device at this time, I do expect it to become available sometime next year.