Microsoft is reportedly telling partners that the next Xbox, tentatively dubbed the Xbox 720, will not include an optical disc drive. The briefings are said to be released under what one source claims is the strictest NDA they have ever encountered, according to an exclusive article from MCV.
In place of the optical drive would be a type of interchangeable solid state drive or card, presumably for users that don't have an internet connection. The source also tells MCV that a 2013 launch date has been confirmed and a reveal at E3 2012 in June could very well be a possibility.
A move to a digital-only platform is intriguing and a sign of the times but not everyone will be vying for it. Video game retailers like GameStop earn a great deal of profit from the second-hand market. A digital-only console would completely eradicate that segment of business and further hamper the retail sector.
Furthermore, speedy broadband would almost be a requisite for title downloads. Those in rural areas without high-speed internet access need not apply… unless the rumored solid state card system circumvents this issue.
Additionally, the next generation console would need to include a hard drive with massive amounts of storage to hold purchased games. Even then, there’d still be a limit to the number of titles one console could store, unless perhaps cloud storage was factored into the equation. Finally, any hope of the 720 being backwards-compatible with existing 360 titles would be tossed out the window.