Microsoft Releasing Download-Only Xbox One Before Xbox Two

Xbox Game Pass serviceInspiredImages / Pixabay

It is fair to say that the existing console generation has not been a massive success for Microsoft and its Xbox One. The eighth generation console has failed to compete favorably with Sony’s PlayStation 4, and there have even been rumors circulating that Microsoft would step out of the games industry completely.

This would be a massive occurrence were it to happen, as there is no obvious console rival to the PlayStation 4 apart from the Xbox One. Although Nintendo is still participating in the video games market with its Wii U console, this is a a very much a niche machine, and not one that has seriously rivalled the PlayStation 4 in this generation.

Thus, it is interesting to note that the rumor mill suggests that Microsoft may launch a smaller version of the Xbox One in 2016. This is nothing new in and of itself, as it is common for console manufacturers to launch sleeker and more diminutive versions of consoles as each generation develops, and technology becomes more affordable.

Download-only Xbox One mooted

But there is something more significant about this rumored Xbox One than merely the fact that it is a smaller variant of the console. Reports suggest that this forthcoming machine will be compatible with downloadable games only. This would be a massive step for Microsoft, and perhaps indicative of the direction of the industry in general.

It has been frequently asserted in the past that Microsoft would consider releasing such a mini-console, yet murmurings on the subject have always failed to come to fruition. But Microsoft could be testing the water for something that the corporation has wished to carry out for sometime.

Both gaming creators and console manufacturers would benefit from phasing out disc-based gaming, even though it is not something that the gaming fraternity would generally welcome. Although the PC community has enthusiastically embraced the Steam software which enables games to be downloaded from an Internet-based digital distribution platform, console gamers have always valued the physical disc.

Yet it was clear when Microsoft originally released the Xbox One that it was already toying with the idea of removing discs from its consoles. Video game manufacturers have always complained about the fact that disc-based games can be sold on to other people via auction sites such as eBay. This greatly reduces the number of brand-new games that are purchased, and ultimately feeds into the profits of developers.

Consumer rights

Gamers often argue that the physical disc is the only way that consumers can retain any form of rights in the industry. Although there are many arguments about the preference of a disc-based gaming structure, one of the most commonly asserted is that as long as you possess a physical disc, you can have access to a game indefinitely. Server-based gaming may be promoted as being convenient by gaming corporations, but as soon as they cease to support a particular title your previous purchase of it is meaningless.

So by releasing a smaller version of its Xbox One console, Microsoft is essentially testing the water of exclusively downloadable gaming. Certainly the indication is thus far that console gamers are not likely to get on board with this concept in large numbers, but if Microsoft can market this new Xbox One console at an attractive price point, many gamers make indeed be tempted.

This new console is apparently intended to be compatible with Windows Store games, and is envisaged as being a direct competitor to Apple TV. Apple has ensured that its latest Apple TV device is considerably more games-oriented than previous releases in this series, and it is suggested that this will be a growing trend in the future.

Complex marketplace

Games consoles now compete an increasingly complicated marketplace, in which devices such as mobile phones and Valve’s Steam Box are challenging the traditional business model. The increasing feasibility of streaming games over Internet connections also means that the sort of outstanding and expensive hardware that is associated with consoles is possibly becoming obsolete. And PC gamers will assert that their preferred platform is simply more powerful, flexible and ultimately superior to any console.

So when considering this new Xbox One console, we must understand that Microsoft is thinking many years into the future, into a gaming climate that is emerging, but yet to fully develop. This download-based console is intended to pave the way for an entirely new gaming model for the Xbox series going forward.

It should be emphasized at this point that Microsoft has yet to respond to the rumors regarding a new Xbox One machine. And indeed, this is not the first time that we have heard of such a console apparently being in development. But reports indicate that this Xbox One may hit the stores in the second half of 2016, and keen Xbox One consumers should expect it to be priced at a significantly lower level than the existing Microsoft console.

Sony to follow suit

What will be interesting to see if Microsoft does indeed release this console is whether Sony will respond in any way. While the Japanese corporation did a considerably better job than Microsoft of marketing the PlayStation 4, it is ultimately driven by the same desires and market forces as its rival, and will have to consider the same issues that Microsoft is mulling over.

While Sony achieved a great deal of good will among gamers by seemingly genuinely listening to their concerns ahead of the release of the PlayStation 5, it should not be seen as a whiter-than-white keeper of the gaming faith. Sony will have to move with the times, and must also maintain good relationships with game creators. This could easily mean that we also see a download-based PlayStation 4 in the future as well.

By releasing an Xbox One that is only compatible with downloadable games, Microsoft would be sending a strong message out about the future direction of the industry. There will no doubt be many further rumors about this smaller yet significant version of the Xbox One console in the coming months.

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About the Author

Christopher Morris
Christopher Morris is a passionate player of video games since the days of Space Invaders, and is extensively published on the subjects of Business, Technology and Politics. Chris also contributes to Yahoo.

33 Comments on "Microsoft Releasing Download-Only Xbox One Before Xbox Two"

  1. I guess to each there own. I like my disc since i can take them with me. But other stuff i have digital (music, pdf, movies etc..) and those are fine, but games i just like a hard copy. No downloading or internet needed to play.

  2. Surely if it is false you have evidence to refute it, no? Just childish name calling for lack of an actual argument? K, thx bai

  3. he’s a already known fan boy.

  4. It will be a problem in areas were internet speeds aren’t up to it. Cheaper version without disc reader should be fine as both options are available?
    PC has been all downloads for years now with Steam, GOG and so on. I don’t even have anything in my home these days that can play physical discs.

    You don’t own the disc legally any more than the version you download from Steam. It’s a license you buy. Same goes for physical music CD’s or downloaded versions.

  5. Um, No. Where the hell do you guys come with stuff?

  6. I think its a dumb move IMO. I buy disc games mainly. Simple for the fact that i dont have to wait to download games, and i own the disc. If i want to play the game at my friends or family house. I can just bring the disc without having to bring my system to there house. So going download only messes up all that and and makes it something i will pass on.

  7. I’m sorry. You’re not a blind fanboy, you’re just a TROLL spreading false information. Don’t you have something better to do than trolling from your mother’s basement?

  8. Xbox didn’t usher online gaming… nice try.

    Sold through, that is what matters, not the false figures msft has bloated with vague half truths.

    And stop eating this whole doing better than last gen crap… that is a simple twist of words. Last year I sold 5 of 10 units to a possible user base of 10 persons I have 50% of that right? This year the consumer population grew to 100 people, and my new product sold to 6 of them… did I sell more than last time? Sure, and I could play that off to the public and claim to be doing better, but to evwn be on par with the population growth I would need to sell at least 50 units…

    And see, if xbox ever really was doing well, why does it cost msft up to 3 billion annually? Why has xbox, in its entire life time as a brand, never been able to even cover its own costs, let alone make money? If the 360 truly sold as well as you believe, why were less than half as many units in the hands of users?

    The only thing xbox has ever ushered was ineptitude and fanaticism.

  9. No, it really doesn’t. This is a huge difference between machines, especially in a nation where 40% of people don’t have the internet.

    Xb1 does not function out of the box without internet, even the newest sku going out are the same this way, something msft should have resolved on the factory floor.

    A ps4 does work out of the box without internet, as does any other console.

    Now lets say you got a box and no net…you could perhaps update firmware via physical storage devices like disc or usb… well, sort of. The ps4 will take any updates via disc or usb out of the box. Xb1 one though, it still won’t accept anything out of the box unless it gets patched online first.

    So.. 40% of americans are instantly precluded from this product, and it is 100% msft’s pooch to screw on that. Throw in soldiers forward deployed to remote locations, the ones actually in need of some casual r & r down time (they are also the same ones who likely do not have internet, they will get care packages with laptops and consoles and games…)..

    That’s without internet… a functioning product vs a brick… not even talking about having enough internet to really benefit.

  10. It’s not that hard bud. Just need to ever now & then for updates. PS4 has to do the same thing.

  11. Well said. Also I perfer digital now. My Xbox One hard drive crashed, had to send in the the XB1 to get fixed. I decided to get the Elite XB1. (I highly recommend) anyway all your game’s & saved, saves, game’s are back up on the cloud.

  12. Neointhematrix6966 | Jan 4, 2016, 1:00 am at 1:00 am |

    Totally agree!!!

  13. Logic? Being a blind fanboy makes you logical?

    The Xbox was Microsoft’s first entry into the already established console market. Despite this it was successful and ushered in online gaming.

    The 360 lead the way until about 3 years ago when PS3 sales finally caught up. It also outperformed the PS3 the whole time despite the PS3 being faster on paper.

    Microsoft blew the marketing on the X1 which lead to lower purchases in the beginning but sales are picking up. Microsoft also made it slightly slower than the PS4 but that lead has been eroding away with frequent updates and they are expected to be completely on par in the near future if Sony doesn’t get their act together, not that there was much of a lead in the first place. The X1 is also doing better than the 360 at this point in its life cycle.

  14. Not according to all reviews… or people who have voted with their wallets…

  15. Actually… it depends on how you look at it. If you compar the population size to the intall base it is more than 20% behind the 360.

    See, If I have 10 rocks, and a potential customer base of 10 people but sell to only 5 of them, I can assume 50% of that market penetration. But, next year my potentioal customer base has grown to 100 persons. Now, I could sell 5 units only and claim to be doing as good as last time on that metric alone. I could sell only 10 units and claim to be doing better, BUT, the reality is I penetrated only 10% of the potwntial customer base.

    See, the population will always grow, and ideally just to stay aliv I inly need marginal increase whichbas long as I did not completely bomb in the markwt is natural… but the xb1 in truth, when compared to the 360, is actually doing worse.

  16. Er… it does stream to windows.. but that’s ok, the official method of that (remote play for tablet and pc) is still on the way, though working in beta atm just fine.

    But you seem to be missing the big picture here.

    Get a nrw ps4 nd turn it on, watch movies, play games, it does its job.

    Get a new xb1 and try the same, it won’t play movies or games, it in fact won’t do anything because it MUST have iternet just to unlock it, and then you need to run around and get an app for every basic feature like play media? The xb1 out of the box is a brick without internet which again is the big point here.

    It’s a shame you couldn’t put aside your rabid fanaticism long enough to use some basic English comprehension skills or general logic and rational. I guess you prefer to spend your time being laughed at for your absurd brand loyalty and desire to be wrong in every way possible.

  17. Yeah this guy is full of crap.

  18. Huh. Since the PS4 is able to play audio CD’s, has all the bc you could want (and no one does, it’s a marketing bullet) and of course doesn’t stream to MS’s platform you don’t own a PS4 you liar.

  19. But Xbox One has been a success compared to past generations sales. Just because Sony has sold more doesn’t mean its not a success. Ive had mine since day one and have all my games digital. Id be temped to buy another cheaper diskless one as well.

  20. Yet my ps4 can’t play audio cds, has no backwards compat, and doesn’t stream to windows. . . Not so hard to pull off when your forte is doing barely anything besides vita ports

  21. What you don’t understand is that it’s a step to getting rid of disks. Not having disks may not be an issue for PC because no one owns PC, which means you can buy digital products from any one willing to sell it, its not monoplized. Xbox owns everything on the xbox, all the games, etc. If they go all digital they will have a monopoly on all the games. That’s the issue

  22. Microsoft dropping out.yeah right.If anything they are going to come back harder and stronger.Sony got lucky with hardware.Because all of there exclusive games so far suck.

  23. If u have a problem with the “no disk” slimmer version there’s a great solution to that…… the version that supports disk. Microsoft isn’t forcing anyone buy the slimmer model. All they are doing is producing them and distributing them the the retailers. Its your personal choice if u decide to buy an XB1 to choose the one that best fits your needs/wants and/or life style.

  24. You also need it to dl and install a blueray player app.. unlike the competition which can do all it is supposed to without connecting to the net out of the box….

  25. Says who? It was surpassed by the ps3 within playstations 3rd year…

    Better according to users? If that were true, the giant fluff number msft likes to talk about, some 85 million units allegedly sold, would show an online population on xbl much higher than its peak 48 million (subtract live for windows users and it comes down to 40 mil….)

    Have you never looked at that lack of logic? That disparity? For three gens msft entered the xbox brand, and for three generations it has been in last place, in sales, in revews, in library, and innovation.

    Miles better? Says who?

  26. Even though the 360 was miles better than the ps3..

  27. Young Frankenstein | Jan 3, 2016, 1:11 pm at 1:11 pm |

    I guess I’m just what you young whippersnappers call “old school”. I despise not having a hard copy. No, there’s no pill for that (or an app either). I live on 6 meg DSL in rural OK and only get 150 gigs a month free, so redownloading games that takes hours instead of patching a few hundred megs after installing a 4+ gig disk is just heartwrenching.

  28. Braheem Hazeem III | Jan 3, 2016, 1:03 pm at 1:03 pm |

    Who says it has to be a witty retort? Do you and your buddy Scottie just hang out on the net and try to troll xbox, how about this, get off the internet and go play your filthy peasant box while I go play some 4k games on my pc.

  29. Braheem Hazeem III | Jan 3, 2016, 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |

    You don’t need online access to use the console for bluray, you only need to set it up the first time, download, or make your account, and set it to no barriers so it auto signs you in regardless if you have internet access or not. I have done this multiple times at places with no internet.

  30. Young Frankenstein | Jan 3, 2016, 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |

    Wow, did you burn out any circuitry upstairs trying to come up with that witty retort? Write it down so you can use it again the next time someone accidentally says something positive on your internet.

  31. Braheem Hazeem III | Jan 3, 2016, 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |

    You should just change your name to Fanboy

  32. PlayStation always has been and always will be the superior console series.

  33. Aaron blanchard | Jan 3, 2016, 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |

    Great article. Online all the time is and has not been a great experience for me I’m working with 10mbps max in rural Manitoba and my Xbox one struggles to play Xbox video at hd levels. Without online access I can’t even play Blu-ray disks, which is just stupid. Playing videogames these days is a hassle, game crashing, and constant issues with Xbox live. Maybe Microsoft should concentrate on the issues at hand before releasing a small Xbox.

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