Would you welcome all-digital consoles

Rumours are circling as of late that within the next month or 2 Microsoft are going to announce a Diskless Xbox One S which will be aptly titled the ‘All Digital Edition’. 

With xCloud on the way and steaming services looking to be prominent in the future of gaming, are diskless consoles the way forward? Will they become the norm?

In this writer’s humble opinion, the answer is yes. But that is not to say that disk drives will be gone completely, it’s more than likely that we are going to get a choice and if I’m honest, it doesn’t surprise me that these rumours are surfacing, especially with how Xbox are wanting to push the digital platform. You look at Games pass and xCloud when it arrives, being able to stream games on any device (or so Phil Spencer says the company wants), download games from Games Pass straight to your Xbox, even doing it remotely through the app on your phone so you can set it to download while you’re in work, ready to play when you get in.

The digital platform is being pushed in a big and will continue to be as techniques change, technology enhances, it is something that we’re going to have to embrace. But, on the other foot, the choice of being able to collect your games in the physical form is one some people have done for years and want to continue to do, so a balance needs to be struck, there is no chance that physical media is going anywhere, the industry on a whole is worth too much to simply bin physical media, You think of the game outlets around the world, Game, EB Games, Gamestop etc, if there was no physical media, it would be hard to think how they would survive on the high streets, selling game codes in store for digital games, which if Game are anything to do by then you’re better off just buying through your console as the prices are no lower in store for what is currently offered.

I guess my main question for this article is would you get a diskless Xbox One or PS4? Would having no drive bother you? My honest opinion is no, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, all my games are digital, I have around 200 on PS4 and 300 odd on Xbox One, my entire collection is digital. Why? Because for myself it’s more convenient, just being able to go back to the dashboard, pick a game and have it load up instead of messing around with disks is a dream, so much easier. My entire Switch collection as well is digital, but I do like the smaller slimmer cases for the Switch, I just can’t justify carrying around the tiny cartridges and risk losing them, especially when I do take my Switch when I’m travelling. Simple knock or bump while trying to change the cartridge while on the train, bus etc could lead to damage and loss. Not something I want to happen to expensive games.

I have recently started buying blank game cases and printing off the sleeves, so I can turn my digital collection into something that looks awesome on the shelf. I guess I’m rambling a bit here, but it’s all relevant to the point, even with an all-digital console, you can still have the collection, just like I did with my Switch collection, buying blank cases is easily obtainable from eBay and other places, and as long as you’re willing to get the ink for the printer, it’s easy to find website that have the correct sleeves and sometimes some cool community made ones as well (My Splatoon 2 one is a community special and looks awesome).

So, for the people who are breaking down saying they want their physical copies, there are ways around it, ways to get creative and make your own collection, something personal to you.

Now, I’m not advocating that the industry goes all-digital, but I think people need to come to the realisation that a digital future for games is coming and the rumours of the all-digital Xbox One S if true are early signs of this. 

I also understand that physical can be cheaper, £50 disk against a £60 digital edition, this is something that would have to change in the industry. Paying for convenience despite there being no physical copy, in my opinion is wrong, kind of like the ‘Switch Tax’ of why should I pay £50 for a game on Switch which is currently £20 on the Xbox/PS store? I shouldn’t have to.

It seems wrong that disks and cases which require manufacturing, flashing with the game, then sent to distributors and onto retail outlets are cheaper than a digital edition that needs uploading to a server, a server that does cost money, but surely not to the extent that the manufacturing would cost? You also must remember that this is worldwide industry, so distribution is on a global scale, costs to get it to other countries, import/export costs and whatever else goes into it. This is kind of the first time I’ve written this down and taken it in fully, and it truly is amazing to think that despite all this, digital is more expensive…. I mean, how dare we sit in our pants at home and download a game there and then instead of going out into the big wide world and interacting with people. Preposterous!

I feel that I have ranted on in this above article but feel that the points I have made are valid. Do we want all digital consoles? For a lot of people, if the consoles are cheaper than the standard ones and their collection is already fully digital, why not?

You have the likes of Amazon Video, Netflix, BBC, Hulu, Sky and Spotify apps, so the need for Blu-Rays and CDs again isn’t as great as it once was. I have a 2-year Spotify and Amazon Video account thanks to my mobile phone provider for 2 years, so I’m sorted there, I have Netflix and Sky Go as well, so media and entertainment is already sorted there. So, as you can see there, it’s not just gaming that digitalising, other medias are as well, how we play, listen and watch is all changing in an ever present way so the need for all-digital consoles is surely a no brainer when it comes to it.

We have the rumours of an All-Digital Xbox One S, if this becomes true in the next 6 to 8 weeks, would Sony follow suit? Are they already planning the same? PS4 Digital Slim? Who knows.

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