Microsoft is releasing the XBox One SAD (S All-Digital)? Its like they want to lose.

in #gaming2 years ago (edited)


You read that right, the upcoming discless, digital-only version of the Xbox One will be called the XBox One S All Digtal, or the Xbox SAD for short. This truly is a sad announcement, but one that I'm not surprised to see them make. It will retail for $249, the same price as the standard S model which includes a 4k Blu-ray drive. It has the same size hard drive, but locks you out of the ability to buy new or used physical games for your console. What benefit is there to this machine if its priced at the same level as the one that includes the disc drive that lets you buy used games and watch 4k movies? Why isn't it at least $50 less expensive than the existing S model?

Let's rewind

When the Xbox One was originally announced, it received tremendous backlash from consumers before it even hit store shelves due to their anti-consumer proposals that would render used games unplayable without paying a "ransom" to unlock a game that was previously loaded on another console. This was Microsoft testing the waters to see how receptive we would be to moving to an all digital console where all games are downloaded and discs are rendered a thing of the past.

This move hurt Microsoft tremendously and gave Sony a massive launch out of the gates to kick off this generation. At this point, Sony has outsold Microsoft by more than 2:1 even after massive promotions, bundles and price cuts. People were ticked off and gravitated towards the PS4 and handily gave Sony the first place trophy. The Nintendo Switch is quickly catching up to worldwide sales of the XBox One, even though the Xbox had a four year head start on the Switch.

Fast forward to now, where Sony and Microsoft are now teasing their new hardware, the PS5 and next generation Xbox. Just before Microsoft announced the SAD, which is again them testing the waters to see how receptive we would be to a console that lacks a physical media drive, Sony drops some details about their upcoming Playstation 5 -- not only will it support 8k resolutions, but will indeed have a physical disc drive and...backwards compatibility with the Playstation 4!


Unless its priced aggressively, the next Xbox is dead in the water. Its basically a Steam box for your living room, without the Steem pricing. Meanwhile, the PS5 will be powerful, allow you to continue buying, owning, trading, renting physical games on discs, watch 4k blu-rays, and will also let you play your existing library of Playstation 4 games. In addition, Sony will trounce Microsoft in brick and mortar retail stores since they'll have a far bigger presence at retail, while the Xbox section will consist of consoles, accessories and game download cards.

This means that with a PS5 and original backwards-compatible PS3, those two consoles would be capable of playing every single Playstation game spanning 5 generations of hardware! As someone who has yet to pick up a PS4, I couldn't be more excited for this news!

Physical forever

As a video game collector, I'm very passionate about preserving games on a physical format. Once we go all digital, games will live and die based on their availability and support through online stores and servers. Every game that was exclusive to WiiWare is now impossible to purchase legally, since the system has been retired. This problem will only get worse as we move closer to killing off discs and carts.

I'm thrilled to see Sony announce that at least one more generation will get to have the freedom and ownership that physical media provides. I know that someday every console will ditch the disc, but putting it off for one more generation is a welcome development.


Thanks for reading. As always, upvotes, resteems and comments are appreciated!

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I don't know that this is a bad idea for Microsoft: unless sales stall out, the issues that you address might not be too significant. If comes with three games, which is a great low cost idea for Microsoft, since they don't have to pay anything. Old models being on sale for the same price are a threat, but these systems look like they only come with one game.

Physical copies have benefits, but digital is really popular. Instant gratification, no risk of loss, and other fringe benefits can help greatly.

I also wonder if this is a prelude to going fully disc free in the future for Microsoft on the One S. They just have to stop making the old models.

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Although I'm a big supporter of physical media (I love me some fancy cover art!), there are definitely benefits to digital media. Especially if you plan on sharing and/or playing gaming with friends and family.

At least on the Xbox One, you are able to share a single licence with two consoles meaning you only need to buy one copy of a game to play it together with a family member. This is great financially because you don't need to buy a second disc! And if you're in the market for a second Xbox I think the "SAD" would be a perfect solution. Of course, you won't be able to play your physical games, but still.

I don't think this move is the nail in Microsoft's coffin though. If anything, it's just them following the current trends in gaming. Most people buy digitally nowadays. Even the physical media collectors. I mean, you can't beat some of those deep deep discounts you'll find on their online stores! No to mention things like game pass.

I do agree with you though, that it does seem a bit pricey and if it was at least $50 cheaper it would make for a more interesting proposition. I also agree that it is a bit scary to think of loosing all of your digital purchases when a company decides they don't want to maintain their servers any more. I'm seriously bummed that I'll never be able to pick up Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth or Contra ReBirth! But, there is still an Xbox with a disc drive and disc based games are still being made for it. And as long as Microsoft puts a drive in their next gen console they'll be ok.

Like you said, game purchases are trending toward all digital. And one day that'll happen in one way or another, but I don't think it's time yet. On the other hand, if Microsoft does decide to go all digital too early, that might just hurt them more than they think.

Great article! And as always keep up the great work!! ;)

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