Xbox One S All-Digital Console: What Are Microsoft Thinking?

Okay so let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. The Xbox One S All-Digital or The Xbox One SAD as people have begun calling it. Right now that niggle is out of the way, I have a perfectly reasonable question regarding this new console – what’s the point?

For those not in the know, allow me to give you a quick catch up.
So Microsoft are set to release a new version of their Xbox One S console on the 7th of May. This new version is exactly the same as the previous console except for one detail, it will not have a disc-drive.  Meaning, the new console will be digital only and it comes with a price tag of £199.99, let’s just call it £200. Or $249.00 for our American cousins.

Xbox One S 2

So back to my question, what’s the point?
First let me address that price. £200 for an Xbox One S? Just off a quick interwebs search and I found a few deals on the “normal” Xbox One S with the same sized 1Tb hard-drive for around the £180-190 mark with a game, either Battlefield V or Forza Horizon 4. For a few extra £s you can buy the same console with three games. The new digital only console comes with copies of Minecraft, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 3. Three games can’t be bad… or can it? Well yes as the games are pretty old relatively speaking. I mean Forza Horizon 3 when Forza Horizon 4 is the latest in the franchise? Plus both Minecraft and Sea of Thieves are available via Microsoft’s Game Pass program… along with Forza Horizon 4. 

If you’re going digital only, you’re gonna go with Game Pass because it’s a really cost effective idea. So those three bundled games are meaningless.

There are some great deals on Game Pass as well if you look around. Suddenly the three games don’t seem all that impressive. Add on to the age old point that digital games cost more than physical (currently £60 for the digital version of Red Dead Redemption II or £30 for the physical) and that you can’t trade in digital games, that all equals a very expensive past time in the long run with you paying (sometimes) double for games.

Expensive

Then let’s not forget that Microsoft have removed hardware here, the disc-drive. That means more than just losing the ability of physical gaming as there goes the Blu-ray player too. Less hardware for more money? So when you look at it, you’re really paying more for a console that offers less options and more restrictions. Plus with less hardware – wouldn’t that mean lower production cost… so why isn’t the console cheaper?

Then onto my biggest point. A few days ago and Sony officially announced the PlayStation 5 is on the way. No official release date yet but most people seem to think it’ll be 2020. Surely with Sony already giving the word on their new console, Microsoft can’t be far behind. With the new generation of consoles creeping up on us… who the hell would fork out £200 on a restrictive console that limits your options when they could put that money toward a shiny new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Whatever? But if you really, really, really want to by a Xbox One S right about now, just buy the normal model with the disc drive. At least you’ll have the option of both digital, physical games and a Blu-ray player thrown in.

Xbox One S Bundle

I believe there is a rumour going around that the new Xbox will come in two flavours – one with a disc-drive and one without. So the reason for this new digital only Xbox One S could be to test the waters and see how popular a digital only console could be. But are they not leaving it a tad late? If this console had been released 3-4 years ago, yeah I can see how they may get some great numbers to draw some intel from. But this close to the launch of the next gen?

I seriously do not understand Microsoft’s marketing here, it makes no sense to expect people to pay £200 for a console without the disc-drive when they can buy the same console with one for around the same amount of money that is capable of doing the same job and then some… plus play Blu-rays too. It’s like having the option of buying two cars. One for 35k with everything you’d except being included and then the second car, same make and model also coming in at 35k but without a fuel tank.

If you really want a digital only Xbox One S, then just buy the normal console and don’t use the disc-drive for gaming. It works out about the same price and at least you get a Blu-ray player thrown in too.

You know, that SAD moniker actually makes a lot of sense.

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