Xbox boss Phil Spencer denies that future consoles will be all-digital

xbox all-digital phil spencer
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Following rumours that Xbox consoles are set to abandon physical media, boss Phil Spencer has said “Our strategy does not hinge on people moving all-digital.”

Fans of shiny discs and clicky clamshell boxes, fear not: Xbox consoles will continue to include physical media drives – at least for the time being.

In recent weeks, there have been rumours that Xbox had plans to cease its production of physical media, with those claims seemingly bolstered by last year’s reveal that the firm is working on a digital-only console along the lines of the Xbox Series S or the PS5 Digital Edition.

Talking to Game File (via IGN), however, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has moved to reassure customers that it isn’t “getting rid of physical” at present.

“I will say our strategy does not hinge on people moving all-digital,” Spencer said. “And getting rid of physical, that’s not a strategic thing for us.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Spencer did concede however, that the age of physical media is on the wane, and that fewer manufacturers are making the drives needed to read those little discs.

“Gaming consoles themselves have kind of become the last consumer electronic device that has a drive,” Spencer said. “And this is a real issue, just in terms of the number of manufacturers that are actually building drives and the cost associated with those. And when you think about cogs that we’re going to go put in a console – and as you have fewer suppliers and fewer buyers – the cost of the drive does have an impact.”

Spencer also said that, while it was true that there had been lay-offs across various divisions involved in the production of physical media, these were due to “alignment” following Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard last year.

“We have teams that are in charge of physical retail, inclusive of selling games in physical outlets,” he said. “So that’s what the team action was. It wasn’t about us getting rid of the capability.”

Between the ongoing popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ for films and TV, and subscription services like Xbox GamePass for videogames, the direction of travel when it comes to consuming entertainment seems clear.

As we’ve argued in the past, though, there are definite downsides to our impending all-digital media future, and it’s arguable that consumers need some form of protection from price gouging or having purchases taken from them if we’re to embrace it.

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