Reports about a disc-less Xbox have been floating around for a few weeks now, but it was never exactly clear how that would work. Would gamers be expected to set up monthly subscriptions for Xbox Live Gold, Game Pass, and xCloud, will it all be one service?
According to Thurrott's Brad Sams, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The console will reportedly launch with Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass bundles, with the ability to pay for them at front. That will be a relief for those who don't like monthly payment models or simply want to buy it as a gift.
“Imagine you go on Microsoft.com, select the disc-less console, then pick two years of Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass, pay the fee, and when the console arrives, it's all set up with the service ready to go,” explained Sams. “This functionality should arrive next year and also be part of the Scarlett business model as well.”
This is a business model the company has experimented with somewhat with Xbox All Access. The monthly financing program lets consumers pay for an Xbox One S or X with Gold and Game Pass for one monthly fee.
A Digital Future Isn't All Good
However, the shift of focus from physical to digital download and game streaming holds concerns for some. Currently, reports say Microsoft is planning to offer both devices with a disc drive, and without. In the future, though, that may not be the case.
As the focus shifts, publishers are becoming increasingly lazy with their physical options. It's becoming more common for titles to come with only a portion of the game on the disk or simply a download code. In the case of Fallout 76, a 50 GB day-one patch was required. It holds that they'll eventually forgo it completely.
For those with fast internet, that presents little problem. In the US, rural areas are also making progress thanks to schemes like Microsoft Airband. However, developing countries are unlikely to see such fast progress.
2011 estimates put suggest only 13.5% of the African population has internet access, despite making up 15% of the world's population. India has the third largest internet population in the world, yet is lagging behind in broadband coverage. Overall, around 51% of the world's population has internet access.
There have been huge efforts to change this, but progress is likely to be slow. Will Microsoft be willing to produce console's with discs for another ten years? It's unclear. For now, though, its model appears to offer the best of both worlds while pushing for an innovative future.