Microsoft’s Building a Disc-Less Xbox One for Release in 2019

Posted on November 16, 2018 by Brad Sams in Games with 68 Comments

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.

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Comments (68)

68 responses to “Microsoft’s Building a Disc-Less Xbox One for Release in 2019”

  1. jprestig

    Great stuff. I love how dedicated MS is to the console world.

    • Awhispersecho

      In reply to jprestig:

      They don't have a choice, it's the only thing they have left that consumers care about or have any passion about. Interestingly, it's also the only thing they seem to get right. For all the issues this company has with every single product and service they offer, Xbox and its related services are incredible. It's honestly hard to believe it's the same company.

      • jprestig

        In reply to Awhispersecho:

        They could have easily packed it up and forgot about it. The fact they haven’t, with so many other issues in the company, is amazing. You’re right though, it’s the major consumer play they have. Sometimes I wish Phil Spencer ran Windows as well. But who knows, with his dedication to PC gaming, and the promise to fix the Windows Store, he may have a decent influence on it.

  2. tonkatoy

    Overall couldn't microsoft just make all their games digital now? My son plays fornite and it was only digital. As well all his new arch games are updated digital.

    I really don't understand any hype here, when they could just save production cost of new unit and just make games digital only now.

  3. Patrick3D

    Considering day one patches for physical disc games have been larger than the content of the discs themselves, most gamer's will be better off just buying digital-only anyways.

  4. Elan Gabriel

    As long as the disc drive is an option, why not. I just hope they're not turning it back into a 100% gaming machine, as they will make it boring. I assume Scarlet will lose Kinect support, HDMI in, USB TV Tuner support and won't bring back Snap and other media capabilities. Only thing left is the UHD Blu-ray drive. Why do they have to be so extreme ? :)

  5. LusoPT

    Digital is all well and good as long as I'm allowed to backup my games and don't need an internet connection to play them once I download them. Otherwise, what happens when support ends? You're stuck with a very expensive brick.

  6. Jorge Garcia

    I'm an "old school", "quick hit" gamer. I got tired of the whole "username and password" paradigm of modern gaming and just went all retro last year. I bought an old PS1 and with a 1300+ game library at my disposal, I'm enjoying myself greatly. I value gameplay over graphics, and the majority of the games that have come out since the PS2 era just seem like interactive movies to me, that or digital paintball matches. Road Rash Jailbreak is an example of a highly amusing quick-hit game that I never even heard of as teenager. If and when I get bored, I'll look into a Game Cube, as I played NONE of those games when they were relevant.

  7. Ryan Paul

    A device at this lower price point seems tailor made for the All Access service they announced a few months ago.


    I imagine there is a large market for a subscription service priced lower than the current $21.99 option for the Xbox One S. Something priced at $14 a month would be very tempting in a world where HBO Now, Netflix and Hulu cost about the same amount of money depending on the tier. Game consoles have to compete for limited attention/time these days, so a price competitive option is going to be necessary to survive.

  8. Kendog52361

    While I would definitely be interested in such a device, one "concern" I would have is whether it would include access to the apps and what not that the current Xbox allows, such as Vudu, Plex, WatchESPN, the Microsoft Apps such as Microsoft Movies and TV, and so on.

  9. My Hell baby speaking

    I'm already basically discless with my PS4, in part due to Sony's fantastic sales for their excellent exclusives. However, dropping a feature and in addition pretending this be the future when actually there are drawbacks involved is always against consumer interests.

  10. Rycott

    Man... the price of Blu-Ray drives must have ramped up since I last bought one.


    They not getting bulk discounts?

  11. tonkatoy

    Will this unit be 4k or support newer 8k format.

  12. Steve Martin

    Oh you mean DVD driveless XBox. When I read the title I thought we were talking about streaming game consoles. But ya, I haven't bought a DVD/Blu-ray in years.

  13. MikeGalos

    That's a great option but I hope they keep it an option and not go pure download since the cost saving would be offset by having to add a separate Blu-Ray/DVD player for video. There's a lot of video content out there that isn't available in streaming and download formats due to odd licensing agreements the studios screwed up when they didn't see the market changing.

  14. rupertholmes

    I am happy that so many of you have the bandwidth and data cap to support a diskless unit. For me on AT&T DSL at $60 plus a month, it would take a day or more load a new game. Plus, I have 150GB data cap, it was unlimited years ago, when I first subscribed. There is no other option for me. Get off for any reason and you cannot come back. I am sure I am not alone. I just happen to be in small area around our town that AT&T has exclusive rights. Half mile further out 100+ fiber, three miles closer 100+ fiber. I routinely take my S to a location that has a fast unlimited wire just to get the normal updates.

  15. dukefan59

    I was literally going to ask about a disk to Digital program if they are going driveless, and because my DVD player doesn’t work.

  16. dxhelios

    Disc-less is fine, but there should be several things to be done before:

    1. No internet user - give them an option to use external disc drive. These can be made only by Xbox. This will save Microsoft from PR nightmare and also provide choice for gamers and will allow graceful shutdown of consoles with discs. If your friend has a disc - new one/old one - she/he can come to your house and bring the disc so you can play together.
    2. Second hand market - there must be proper trade-in program, where all second hand goes through Gold membership. This benefits Microsoft, benefits developers, benefits users. All Gold users must be able to trade their digital games via friends connections. Xbox community will also grow. From each Gold trade in sale, Microsoft takes their share, developer takes their share, users get their share. Users can trade-in their game instantly to Microsoft or to friends with Gold with specific pricing. They will get more money when trading with friends as this is basically faster process.
    3. And of course disc-to-digital

    Within all these home xbox and family members benefits should be retained.


    That would be excellent innovation!

  17. deadlives

    I will only use disk systems for 1 no downloads, install is ok it saves on the disk eye 2 I want the physical game,and if someone wants to barrow it I can it may lead to they want to go buy it themselves 3 the internet craps I can't play my games 4 If the system takes a crap then your screwed because the games are tied to your serial number look at the psp go crap 5 all old games I have I want to play them oh I can take them to a store and get digital copy f. That I want to play it now not wait to all this digital shit who ever came up with bullshit then they can shove it up their mothers ass if the next Xbox is diskless then I won't buy it

    • deadlives

      I have another bad thing to add do u actually own a download not physically so if your internet takes a crap or you didn't pay your internet bill then you can't any game why should I have to download a game I buy when I buy a game and when I get home I want to play it install is ok it saves on the system's eye btw my Xbox one is offline the only times it is online is system updates and dlc


    • deadlives

      I will only use disk systems for 1 no downloads, install is ok it saves on the disk eye 2 I want the physical game,and if someone wants to barrow it I can it may lead to they want to go buy it themselves 3 the internet craps I can't play my games 4 If the system takes a crap then your screwed because the games are tied to your serial number look at the psp go crap 5 all old games I have I want to play them oh I can take them to a store and get digital copy f. That I want to play it now not wait to all this digital shit who ever came up with bullshit then they can shove it up their mothers ass if the next Xbox is diskless then I won't buy it

  18. deadlives

    Another thing hackers and identity thieves are going to have a field day with all you download, stream dumb asses . If I want dlc I buy cards at the stores for my games .I'll never buy a diskless system and if the Xbox 2 is then I won't buy it

  19. sachinkhanna48

    Digital is all well and good as long as I'm allowed to backup my xbox one games and don't need an internet connection to play them once I download them. Otherwise, what happens when support ends? You're stuck with a very expensive brick.

  20. dkrat

    Will there be a diskless X or just the S? If it is the X, I wonder where that price will fall.

  21. jwilcoxson

    I would be up for this if there is no cost to trade to digital.

  22. gregsedwards

    I'd also expect it to be a smaller (thinner) console. You know what? They may be able to get this thing down closer to "Hobart" dimensions after all. I'm not suggesting a plug-in stick or anything like that, but I'd imagine the Blu-ray drive takes up a lot of the internal space inside a typical Xbox One S console. I'd totally buy one.

    • zybch

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      Not really. Take a look at a teardown and the drive is a very small part about an inch thick, though if they went non-motorized loading model (like a notebook drive) that can be cut by more than half

      https://youtu.be/Y__r8UjVvzY?t=9m8s

      All of the X's internals are designed and placed to support the cooling system though, so just removing the drive would have knock on effects.

      I think its more about cost, that UHD drive in the S apparently adds $23 to the cost over a regular bluray drive (about $30 by itself).

  23. maethorechannen

    he new console price point is expected to be $200 or less.


    How much is a year's worth of Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold?

  24. Finley

    Would seem to be a stepping stone to a streaming only unit

  25. locust infested orchard inc

    Quote by Brad Sams, "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."


    You bet we love this info, which would ordinarily not have made it to the media so early before an official announcement.


    When your book eventually Surfaces, I will be all too eager in reading it.

  26. drewidian

    I haven't bought a physical disk game or Blueray Video in years and don't intend to ever again. I use Steam and don't have any regrets about not being able to resell those games at all and my library there is over 500 games. If this reduces the pricepoint for entry, If they set it up where any (or specified) external BlueRay drive will work like it does in Windows, It could reduce the cost for those who want to jump in at a lower price point. This is fine for me.

  27. zvjer

    wow what an offtopic discussion here.


    I find this decision from MS (if true) fantastic! I'm really looking forward to find out just how many gamers are ready to go all-in digital. I never purchased a game on disk and I have no wish to deal with discs ever and I also love the option given to us so we are able to chose if we want discs or digital. It's the perfect combo. And even the 200$ console will be perfect for those who prefer to buy one or two games extra instead of spending 100$ on the optical drive they will never use. And the idea of being able to swap discs for digital keys is even better news!


    Don't get me wrong - I wish that discs stay for as long as people want them. But I do appreciate the option of buying the cheaper console too. More gamer on-board is always the best course of action.


    Also looking forward to see how will they update the S console.

  28. hitzjazzcat

    I lost my Xbox Live account with all of my digital downloads on it about four months ago. It was a perfect storm of 5-year-old button smashing and an identity theft issue that caused me to change my phone number in less than an hour. I didn’t even know my account was locked when I changed my phone number. Without my old phone number, I can’t reset my password. According to my carrier, my phone number was given to a GPS device that doesn’t receive calls or texts. I’ve spent hours upon hours on the phone with Microsoft and Xbox, and they won’t help me. I now have 83 digital games that cannot be played. I’ve lost about $4,000 and five years of game progress because of an accident. Xbox Support’s solution is to try three passwords every day until I guess the right one. Ridiculous. I wonder how many other people this has happened to.


    I’ll never buy a digital game again. You don’t own the game, you purchase the rights to play it, and Xbox can take the rights away without notice or reason. A purely digital console is a terrible idea.

    • deadlives

      I agree with you about digital shit and I don't feel sorry for all the dumbasses that want it . All of my games are physical copies I will buy dlc for them but I actually own the games some of my dlc I have it on disc If the Xbox 2 is disc less then I won't buy it


  29. Awhispersecho

    I love the idea of a cheaper digital only Xbox S to use as a media and internet device. I also believe it should cost 150 bucks and they should target people like my neighbor and Father who would live to have an Xbox for apps, streaming, occasional casual casino games and playing local stored media, but won't spend 300 bucks on a "gaming" machine.


    However, I am completely against a digital only next Gen console. Data caps are still a real thing for a lot of people. A lot of people also have Blu-ray and 4k disc's that I'm sure they would like to be able to use. And on a personal level, I prefer physical media to digital though I know they don't really care about that. I will buy this stripped down S model but if the next Gen console is digital only, I won't buy it. I'll just stick to gaming on the PC.


    A couple of things I thought about. First of all, imagine someone has a data cap and they own 15 games and buy the new S model. They then trade them in for digital keys and go home to download those games. By the time they download their games, the games they owned before, they have now hit their data cap and are done for the month.


    The other thing I think kind of stinks is they are going to let you trade in your physical games for digital versions. So you aren't getting anything more than you already had, you owned that game, you still own that game just in a different format. They however, will make money off of every game you traded in by turning around and selling them as used games to those that still have disc systems. I find that genius and dirty on their part at the same time.

    • coreyp

      "However, I am completely against a digital only next Gen console. Data caps are still a real thing for a lot of people."


      This generation is already bad for people with data caps. Day one updates are almost as big as the discs.

      • Awhispersecho

        In reply to CoreyP:

        Yup, this is why I will still be against it even 2 years from now. And yes, day one patches are out of control. It's funny, I was literally having this conversation with someone a couple hours ago. Completely agree and you sir are correct.

  30. Skolvikings

    How does Sony skipping E3 equate to a "big win" for Xbox?

  31. deadlives

    To all you steam, streaming , digital dumb asses what about us gamers who actually owns the games , movies do you no rights to yes but if you're internet goes down, or you didn't pay your internet bill you can't do shit or if you have it on your harddrive ok ya right not what happens if it breaks or gets stolen Haha! To all you digital damb asses how big is your hard drive or drives now days games are taking up a lot of memory like 50+ GB that's alot I want the physical copy or are you the dumb as who has to wait for it to download or streaming it and it plays or comes in like shit as for myself and others to want and have to have the physical copy DVD or Blu-Ray discs

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