Microsoft mulled digital-only Xbox One even after E3

Microsoft mulled digital-only Xbox One even after E3
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

January 3rd 2014 at 8:08AM

Console's Blu-ray drive wasn't a sure bet midway through 2013, says Spencer

Microsoft was still mulling a purely digital console even after the controversy surrounding the Xbox One's E3 showing, says Phil Spencer.

Speaking to Official Xbox Magazine, the Microsoft Studios boss downplayed the extremely negative reaction the console received, painting a picture of a company that was looking to cash in on the hardware benefits of ditching the disc drive.

“Obviously, after the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change," he said.

"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.”

This might be off-putting to some gamers, but it's no secret that disc drives are not only one of the more unreliable bits of hardware in a modern console, and the removal of physical media would certainly widen a critical bottleneck.

In the end though, concerns about consumer access to broadband – a near necessity for digital content – won out, and the Xbox One shipped with a Blu-ray drive.

"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,” said Spencer.

“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."

It's interesting to note the lack of concern for physical media as part of the in-home entertainment angle adopted by Microsoft for the new console.

Judging by Spencer's comments the console maker included the disc-drive as a nod to the present, but is keeping its eyes fixed on an all-digital future.

It goes a long way to clarifying why Microsoft seemed so awkward out of the gate, but the company has certainly found its footing and is neck-and-neck with Sony in terms of units sold globally.