All-digital: Rumors that Microsoft has been working on a disc-less Xbox One S console have been circulating quite a bit lately, and photos of the machine were leaked mere days ago. Now, the reports have been proven true: Microsoft has officially unveiled the all-digital console, and it's available for pre-order now.
In terms of design, there really isn't much to say about the disc-less Xbox One S. The device is completely identical to its normal counterpart, but -- as you might expect -- the disc tray is missing.
The design isn't the main attraction for the new Xbox One S, though; that honor goes to its price tag, which is now $250 versus the standard Xbox One S' $300 cost. That's a pretty deep discount, and Microsoft is even throwing three free digital games into the mix: Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves.
Furthermore, you'll get a free month of Xbox Live Gold (which gives you multiplayer access, among other goodies) and a "special offer" for Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass service, which has been called the "Netflix of games" in the past.
The major trade-off here is obviously the lack of a disc drive, meaning you lose the ability to play physical game copies on the device. This may be worthwhile to a fairly large portion of gamers, but for those who retain fond memories of camping out at their local game store for midnight game releases, the console might be less appealing.
Unfortunately for those individuals, the wind probably won't be blowing in their favor for much longer. A digital-focused, always-online console (the new Xbox One S is not the latter, to be clear) is something Microsoft has been hoping to launch for years now.
However, it has always been a matter of timing: the original Xbox One was going to be an always-connected, anti-used game device at first, but Microsoft misjudged how the public would react to the idea - it was too soon, and pressure from the public forced the company to change things up. Now, though, the gaming landscape has changed. We are living in the age of "live services," and plenty of AAA games require constant internet connections right out of the gate. As a result, gamers are starting to become desensitized to the idea, for better or worse.
With that in mind, this new Xbox One S could be an attempt to subtly acclimate gamers to the notion of giving up more control of their gameplay. Instead of slapping on an increased price tag as Microsoft did with the original Xbox One X, though, the company is instead offering up financial incentives to anyone who buys into this idea: $50 savings and the previously-mentioned free games, in this case.
The end goal for Microsoft will likely be to convince as many gamers as possible to sign up for the upcoming "Project xCloud" game streaming service - but only time will tell.
If the new disc-free Xbox One S sounds like your cup of tea, you can pre-order via Microsoft's official website. The first consoles are expected to ship out on May 8.
Xbox One S comparison image courtesy Engadget