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Xbox will not drop physical media and go all-digital

Xbox Series S - Boxed and Unboxed

With rumors circulating about what the shake-ups at Microsoft might mean moving forward, as well as the future of physical gaming as a whole, the Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer has now come out to reassure fans that Microsoft will not be disbanding its physical media and that the company’s future is not moving toward going all-digital.

Despite growing concerns that Microsoft might soon be switching to a digital-centric business model, Xbox has remained firm that it will continue to follow the wants and needs of its player base, especially regarding the ways in which players play games on their platform.

With that said, regardless of Xbox coming out in support of continuing its physical content, they have stated that they focus on adhering to what customers are doing and that most customers buy their games online these days. In other words, an eventual move to ‘all-digital’ might be inevitable and Xbox will use this reasoning of following consumer trends as the main reason why.

Thankfully Xbox was forthright enough to also mention that hardware costs and the process of manufacturing consoles with a now ‘not-so-essential’ physical disc drive as two other factors for a potential all-digital move in the future.

In the ever-evolving world of technology, gaming consoles are now actually one of the last mass-market electronic devices that still employ a drive. This has recently become an issue for companies like Xbox, in terms of both the cost of producing them and the number of manufacturers that actually still build these drives.

With fewer suppliers of drives and fewer buyers of physical games, it soon might simply be no longer cost-efficient to keep making consoles this way and gamers shouldn’t be too surprised if the next generation of Xbox consoles don’t come with a built-in drive, similar to Xbox Series S or the PS5 Digital Edition.

Although Xbox commented that a potential move to all-digital wouldn’t be a strategic or solely financial motive, it does mark a problem in the gaming industry that has been growing under the surface for a few years now. Companies are now increasingly focusing on profits and simply the ticking of boxes for what features a game should have, instead of producing anything of any innovation or artistic merit.

Another story currently surrounding Microsoft is the massive layoffs the company made in January. Over 1,900 employees were let go from the company’s gaming division last month, many of whom worked on the production and selling of physical media.

Microsoft has stated that the decision to let so many staff go was primarily centered around the Activision Blizzard takeover and that the decision wasn’t about getting rid of the capability, but rather that it already had teams in place to handle the increased workload. Whether this is true or not – as massive layoffs have been happening in many industries lately – is a story that will continue to play out throughout the year.

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