IT'S AROUND THAT TIME AGAIN when people start pondering what the next steps are in the games console world, with the latest chin-stroking centred around the idea that Microsoft might release a 'digital only' Xbox One next year.
According to loose-lipped types familiar with Xbox's plans who blathered to Thurrot, such a cheap and cut-down Xbox One is slated for 2019, which surprise surprise is around the time Microsoft is set to release Project Xcloud, its game streaming service.
While the next-generation Xbox is apparently underway and there have been murmurings that there could be a streaming-only take on that future machine, a digital-only Xbox One will pave the way first with a predicted price somewhere below $200.
Providing one has a decent internet connection, that price could provide Microsoft with a way to get console gamers to shun their PlayStation 4 machines and get a taste of Redmond's gaming prowess, which could be quite impressive if it gets all the studios it recently bought up to crank out some quality Xbox-only exclusive titles.
One interesting rumoured move is that Microsoft could offer a 'disc-to-digital' scheme, which would allow people to trade in their physical copies of games for digital version, essentially allowing them to ditch the older media format and embrace the as-a-service model, which is pretty much what Microsoft pushes with its business software.
Alongside a digital-only Xbox One, Microsoft is also apparently set to refresh the Xbox One S, likely adding in a few refinements and perhaps a minor drop in price to boost its appeal; after all Redmond has the Xbox One X to hold the expensive console spot.
Speaking of which, the Xbox One X is some 12 months old now, and looks to be doing a decent job of boosting existing games' graphics and promising visually impressive upcoming titles.
As such, we suspect that there'll still be plenty of life left in the Xbox One lineup before it goes fully digital or shifts over to a new generation. Peering into our crystal ball, we suspect 2020 or later will be when a next-gen Xbox makes its debut. µ
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