Are We Ready for All Digital Consoles? Thursday, January 30th, 2014 at 7:35 am
Written by: leprakhauns

There are reports that Microsoft is going to be releasing a $399 1TB all digital version of their latest console, Xbox One. Apple has already phased out optical drives in their computers, but are we ready to go fully digital on a console? Microsoft announced the Xbox One with a lot of unpopular features which were later changed, but if you look at those unpopular features and the fact that the Xbox One was originally not going to have a disc drive at all, you can see where Microsoft was headed.

An all digital console would mean that used games would no longer be possible. It would also mean that there would no longer be services like Gamefly. You could probably still buy games from stores like Walmart via a QR code, but then you would also be able to get it from Amazon and enter the code, it wouldn’t make sense to do it that way. You would no longer be able pick up games that are on sale on Amazon or during a Black Friday sale either. Unless of course, Microsoft positioned themselves in a way that gave Amazon and other retailers the ability to make their own Marketplace.

We all know games that weeks after its releases, while Gamestop, Microsoft, and Sony still list a game at $60, Amazon has it around $40. Imagine if Microsoft gave Sony codes for games that you could go on your Xbox and choose to buy it from Microsoft directly, or look on Amazon and download it right from an Amazon app to your Xbox. Imagine if you paid $8.95 a month and you got 1 game a month on Gamefly through an online rental app. Sound far fetched? Maybe, but it is what Sony and Microsoft would have to do if they were to go all digital to prevent a significant crash in the video game industry.

Gamestop couldn’t/wouldn’t stay open if all they sold were consoles and accessories, games are their bread and butter. How many people would be repeat customers there if all they sold was consoles? Close to none. Bring them to the digital age and give them a game store similar to the Microsoft Store and you’d be able to buy a code in a physical store then take it home and download the game. You could even give Gamestop the power to buy game codes back and deactivate the code under your account and resell it. Microsoft could then make money off of used games.

With Microsoft making money off used games and developers not having to manufacture discs or packaging, then the price of games could be driven down. If game prices drop then players will be able to buy more games and that is a win for everyone involved. Cheaper manufacturing would also mean Steam like sales on consoles.

Are we ready for all digital game consoles? Right now, absolutely not. If Microsoft launched with an all digital console in November without any of this prep work in place it would have been disastrous. If the reports are true and Microsoft is releasing a digital only version of the Xbox One, then we should be seeing some of this come to fruition. Amazon already offers digital game downloads for Sony, so if Microsoft is serious about pushing us to the next level, they will need to get to the same point with Amazon as Amazon is at with Sony, if not closer to the perfect digital partnership.

In any case this is most likely the last generation of consoles with an optical drive, so it is hard to imagine that ideas aren’t being thrown around by department heads about the best way to approach an all digital system and which partnerships to make. Only time will tell if it will pan out, though.

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