Xbox One almost had no disc drive

2 min read

Remember the Xbox One reveal? Remember the backlash to the 24-hour verification check? Remember how Sony blew the doors off of E3 when they announced that they had no new DRM plans for the PlayStation 4? Well, it turns out that after that conference, Microsoft considered their solution to be – wait for it – to remove the disc drive from the Xbox One altogether.

Phil Spencer, head honcho of Microsoft Studios, spoke with OXM regarding this interesting idea, exposing that the notion was alive even through the middle of 2013:

Obviously, after the announcement and E3, there was some feedback about what people wanted to change. There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console.

Clearly, they eventually figured out that the disc drive was not what people wanted to change, and our prayers were thankfully answered when they pulled a 180 on the 24-hour DRM check altogether.


It seems a bit alarming that Microsoft hadn’t completely made their minds up on the physical components of the system even some five months before its initial release. And in light of that, it’s kind of incredible that the launch has gone with so few hiccups. Sure, there’s evidence of a notable difference in power between the Xbox One and its direct competition, the PlayStation 4, and Microsoft doesn’t seem to be winning that battle. But regardless, the failure rate has been rather good so far – again, apparently not as good as the PS4’s, but a far cry from the near-25% failure rate of the Xbox 360.

Unfortunately, this is just more evidence of the tone-deaf quality of Microsoft’s decision-making throughout the development of this console. Would-be customers weren’t upset that the Xbox One had a disc drive. They were upset that, through the proposed 24-hour DRM check, their ability to play any of their games – online or offline – was not only dependent on their own internet connection, but Microsoft’s as well. Those recent Xbox Live outages could have bricked Xbox Ones around the world if this plan was intact.

And no, Mr. Mehdi, it wasn’t simply a matter of reading comprehension. We understood quite well what was happening.

Fortunately, the whole story has a happy ending. The Xbox One has a Blu-ray disc drive and they have dispensed with the 24-hour DRM check. All-digital consoles are likely inevitable, but at least the industry now has time to sit back, take a breath, and plan a bit better before taking the plunge.

Last Updated: January 3, 2014

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