The rumors were true. Microsoft has announced an Xbox variant with no optical disc drive called the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. It looks the same as any other Xbox One S with the important distinction that there’s no drive slot on the front. Microsoft will push game downloads, and it’s including a few of them free with the console. That might nudge some people to drop $ 250 on the device when it launches in a few weeks, but the pricing still seems too high.
Without the optical drive, Microsoft’s new game console won’t be able to play your existing game discs or Blu-ray movies. However, any digital Xbox content you own will be available on the All-Digital Edition. This seems mainly like a play to attract new gamers who don’t have a giant library of now-useless discs. It also ties neatly into the recently unveiled Game Pass subscription and xCloud game streaming tech.
The All-Digital Edition console comes with free downloads of Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3, and Minecraft. Microsoft also stresses that all your games, saves, and backups are available in the cloud. You’ll just need a speedy internet connection to access them on short notice. You can at least pre-load new games on the All-Digital Edition to start playing them as soon as they’re live. That might be even faster than popping in a disc that requires installation and patching on launch day.
Other Xbox One S variants only come with a single game (if any), but the pricing on the All-Digital Edition is still a bit suspect. It’s $ 250, which is $ 50 less than the MSRP on the regular One S. However, that console (with a game) is often on sale for $ 250 or less. You might get more bundled content with the All-Digital Edition, but you lose access to game discs forever.
To justify buying the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, you need to factor in the cost of getting digital games. You won’t be able to purchase cheap used games, and digital titles go on sale less often. Microsoft would love to sell you a Game Pass subscription, which includes access to more than 100 digital titles like Fallout 4, Doom, and several Halo games. It costs $ 10 per month, but you also need an Xbox Live Gold subscription for about $ 5 more per month.
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition launches on May 7, and you can pre-order it now. Although, this feels like a product that will come down in price before long. Pre-ordering might not be the right way to go.
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