Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console launched in 2013 with a design that some have often compared to a VCR because of its bulky nature and slot loading Blu-Ray drive. If a new report is to be believed, Microsoft is planning a new version that’ll help it shed that design and drive this coming October.
WPDang, a site dedicated to Microsoft rumors and news, reports this Microsoft has a huge hardware-focused event scheduled for sometime this coming October. Allegedly, a slim Xbox One release will be one of the things Microsoft announces at this event. A Surface Pro 4, Microsoft Band 2 and two new Lumia flagships to compete with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus are also coming. Understandably, it’s the rumors about the Slim Xbox One that are attracting the most attention.
The outlet cites sources who say that an Xbox One Mini will have a completely new design on its outer shell, ditching the somewhat muted design of the current Xbox One. The new design won’t result in a “loss of performance,” but will be both quieter and thinner. The size of this rumored slim Xbox One is described as “one-third” the volume of the Xbox One on store shelves now. To get the size down Microsoft removed the Blu-ray drive entirely.
All told, the rumors of a Slim Xbox One release sound interesting. Unfortunately, what we know about the Xbox One fall release schedule doesn’t necessarily jive with the report.
Sony’s PS4 gaming console has a weak exclusive line-up of titles this holiday season. To capitalize on that opportunity, Microsoft plans to roll out a steady stream of console bundles that include digital versions of their exclusive games and titles from their partners. Next week Microsoft plans to release a hardware bundle for Gears of War Ultimate Edition. In September a Limited Edition Forza 6 Xbox One is planned.
At this year’s Gamescom event Microsoft announced the Limited Edition Halo 5 Guardians Xbox One bundle. Costing $499, it’ll come with a special edition controller, color scheme and Halo 5-themed inscriptions. The console goes on sale officially on October 27th. It seems strange that Microsoft would announce a slim Xbox One during the month of October and undercut it’s flagship bundle. In fact, it sounds like a recipe for backlash, exactly what the Xbox One doesn’t need.
There’s also the public relations ramifications of selling an Xbox One without a Blu-Ray drive. Technology-wise, everything is in place for an Xbox One that doesn’t accept physical media. The Xbox Store built into the Xbox One’s software allows users to download digital games on the same day that they are available in stores. What’s more, Microsoft added a pre-order system so that game makers can offer pre-order bonuses and promotions just like they do at GameStop, Best Buy and more. Even when users purchase a physical game today, a small part of it is installed on their system.
The problem is public perception. An all-digital approach to gaming was a huge part of Microsoft’s initial vision for the Xbox One. Originally, the Blu-Ray drive in the Xbox One was just a way for users to quickly get games if they didn’t have a decent internet connection. Installing a physical game would have turned it into a digital one, with all the privileges that a digital game entails. The gaming community mostly rejected the idea, largely because having physical media means that those games can’t be traded or lent to a friend without hassle. Microsoft failed to provide details about how sharing or selling games would have worked in its original vision.
Introducing a console that only accepts digital games could ignite that firestorm again. Even if Microsoft makes it clear that the console is for digital games only.
The Xbox One is on store shelves now for as little as $349.99. There’s been no word on how much this new Slim Xbox One might cost.