Microsoft recently announced all of the details for the new disc-free version of the Xbox One S – The Xbox One S All Digital, or Xbox One SAD for short. Just stop and think about that name for a second and ponder a career in marketing. Announcing the new console with a suggested retail of $249 also doesn’t make a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things, especially when you consider the older, optical disc drive supporting brother of this console lists at $199 and can often be found cheaper. It begs the question ‘What is Microsoft thinking?’ It may be though they are thinking of getting rid of a few things.
It’s not hard to imagine that Microsoft may be thinking of killing off both the original Xbox One console and the successor in the market, the Xbox One S. The adoption of 4K TV’s has grown considerably since the introduction of the S, so the need to cater to a lower definition crowd is mostly gone. And it’s not as though the S didn’t work with older TV’s – they just couldn’t take full advantage of the power of the console. Producing consoles isn’t cheap though, and consolidating production down to two consoles without losing any of the available market makes sense for Microsoft.
But what about that price point? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see production end fairly quickly on the original Xbox One and Xbox One S. Perhaps even before the 2019 holiday season. By introducing the Xbox One SAD, Microsoft can push a few extra sales out of the original two consoles before pulling them from the market and then reducing the price of the SAD just in time for the holidays. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a win-win for Microsoft, but it doesn’t hurt them either. Ending production on the consoles and increasing sales of the remaining units without a further price drop? That seems like a good strategy to me.
Microsoft also begins the end for another thorn in its side with the introduction of this new console. When the Xbox One was first introduced back in 2013, the company made it pretty clear that they wanted to start controlling the used software buying market. The first plans for doing so, which included the need for an always-on internet connection fell flat and Microsoft backed away from the plan. In the intervening years though, digital purchasing took off and became second nature for consumers. In creating a console that doesn’t even use physical media, Microsoft further restricts the availability of product to sell to companies like GameStop. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see the company replace the Xbox One X with a disc-less model in the not too distant future. Currently, Sony is saying that it’s next generation console, the Playstation 5, will still support physical media but there isn’t exactly a compelling reason to do so anymore with mega fast internet connections and mass storage capability. It isn’t a stretch to see Sony jumping on the disc-free bandwagon. If that happens you can pretty much see the end for GameStop.
For now, though, Microsoft has what looks like a marketing blunder on its hands. I wouldn’t expect the team in Redmond to sit with egg on their face for long. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years. If you are a fan of owning physical media for games though, I’d suggest getting to your local game shop sooner than later. Chances are the future for these stores isn’t very bright.