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Feature Article

Xbox Rumors: Next-Gen Xbox Reveal At E3, Xbox One With No Disc-Drive, And All The Other Rumors

Microsoft has big plans.

With about three months to go before E3 2019, Xbox rumours are already heating up. Microsoft has previously confirmed it is working on multiple new Xbox consoles, and now its plans appear to be coming into focus.

There is a lot of information out there about the new Xbox consoles, so we're rounding up all the rumours and speculation into this post to help make sense of the matter. Bear in mind that while the sources for each rumour have proven reliable in the past, everything mentioned here is unconfirmed, and as with all rumours, plans are subject to change. With that caveat out of the way...

A Disc-Free Xbox One

Rumoured for many months already, and discussed at a conceptual level for years, the disc-free Xbox One is said to be codenamed Xbox Maverick. Windows Central reported that this system will actually be called "Xbox One S All-Digital Edition." Pre-orders for the console are said to open in April, with the console then scheduled to go on sale in May around the world.

This would be a first for Microsoft, as all previous Xbox hardware featured a disc drive. Pricing hasn't been mentioned in any reports yet, but dropping the disc drive would presumably lower the cost. In fact, it's believed that the disc-free Xbox One would be the cheapest Xbox One offering to date.

Also unclear at this stage is if the disc-free Xbox One would contain any further changes to the Xbox One hardware or design. WindowsCentral posted a Photoshopped mock-up of what an Xbox One without a disc drive might look like--check it out here.

The video game industry, like film, TV, and music before it, is increasingly trending toward the digital space and away from physical media. Microsoft itself is pushing further into the digital space with its new streaming service Project xCloud, which according to Brad Sams, will enter a trial phase later this year. Another Microsoft digital subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, is proving popular already with millions of people signing up. It's clear digital is important to Microsoft going forward.

All-digital hardware has been attempted before, as Sony launched the PSP Go back in 2009--but it failed. It's been a decade since that trial, and general internet availability and speed has improved since then. Still, there are parts of the world where access to internet is limited, and other places where speeds are less-than-great (hello, Australia!). For those who prefer physical media, Microsoft will continue to make Xbox One consoles with disc-drives, so there is no need to worry about an all-digital future taking over, at least not yet.

The Disc-To-Digital Program

A key component of Microsoft's disc-free Xbox One plans is what's being referred to as the "disc-to-digital" program. As part of this, users can trade in their console discs for a digital license for games they already own. The disc-to-digital program is expected to launch around the same time as the disc-free Xbox One console's release in May, or a little earlier, Brad Sams reported. People will be able to visit the Microsoft Store and Best Buy (and potentially others) to swap their discs for digital licenses. The specifics about how this will work remain unclear.

Retailers might not be very happy about this news, especially GameStop, whose "buy-sell-trade" business model hinges on physical media remaining popular. But no one is asking players to care about the health of retailers; if this is the way the business is going, retailers will need to adapt. For its part, GameStop has diversified its offerings substantially of late to focus more on digital options and physical content like Funko Pop! toys and other physical merchandise.

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A New Fortnite Xbox One

Microsoft already offers an Xbox One hardware bundle that comes with Fortnite and various extras, but the company is reportedly planning to push even further on the battle royale game. A new Xbox One featuring a design inspired by Fortnite is coming, according to Windows Central, though the site didn't have any further information about the system and if it will be an Xbox One S, X, or the new disc-free edition.

Next-Gen Consoles

Microsoft is reportedly working on multiple new Xbox One consoles in development under the "Scarlett" umbrella. The first is codenamed Anaconda, according to Brad Sams, and is the new high-power Xbox One to follow the Xbox One X that was released in November 2017. The other, codenamed Lockhart, is said to be the budget-oriented offering.

At E3 2019 in June, Microsoft is expected to discuss both of these consoles, though it's unclear at this stage how deep into specifics the company plans to get. Sams reported that Microsoft's idea with the new consoles is to "make next-gen gaming available to wider audiences with a lower price of entry." The consoles aren't expected to be released until Fall 2020.

According to Sams, the Anaconda console will be priced in line with Sony's PlayStation 5 (which is rumoured but hasn't been announced yet), while Lockhart will cost less.

Specs are unknown for Anaconda and Lockhart, but Sams reported that both consoles will have solid-state storage, which would be a big improvement over the Xbox One X's hard disk drive.

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Sams speculates that specs for the new wave of consoles is expected to not be as important as it was with the Xbox One X, a console that can already deliver 4K/60FPS gaming. He suggests that the most significant change will be on the software side. A new technology called GameCore OS will enable Microsoft to bring Xbox One and PC development more closely together, apparently.

According to Sams, Microsoft may attempt to launch GameCore OS for all of the Xbox One family of devices. However, it's unknown at this stage if this will unlock what Sams called "true forward and backwards compatibility."

With Microsoft said to be pushing more into the PC development space (Halo Infinite is coming to Xbox One and PC), some may question if this will hurt Microsoft's ability to sell consoles. As Sams reminds us, games--not hardware--is where the money is made. The margin profile of game sales are known to be better than hardware, where margins are low or even non-existent in some cases in history.

"That is not where you make money," Phil Spencer told GeekWire about consoles. "The business inside of games is really selling games, and selling access to games and content in means like that is the fundamental business. So if you open it up, the more often people can play, the more they're enjoying the art form. It increases the size of the business."

xCloud And Game Pass

One of Microsoft's most exciting and ambitious new technologies is the game-streaming service Project xCloud. Microsoft's long-term vision is to bring Xbox to every internet-connected screen, whether that be a TV, console, or the mobile phone in your pocket. According to Sams, xCloud--or whatever name Microsoft decides to give it--will enter the trial phase later this year. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said that, during his holiday travels at the end of 2018, he was already playing streaming games on his phone as he jetted around, so it's definitely coming together.

Nothing is certain yet, but it's not hard to envision a future where Xbox Game Pass becomes an xCloud offering where people can stream games wherever they are, on whatever device they have. That's exciting to think about. But there are numerous unanswered questions like whether the service will be available worldwide (PlayStation Now is notably unavailable in Australia), and if it will require Xbox Live Gold or not. Whatever the case, it may finally be time that streaming takes off, as Microsoft is joined by the likes of Google, Amazon, Verizon, and other tech juggernauts in having announced or rumoured to have game-streaming services in the pipeline.

Next Steps

Brad Sams reports that Microsoft will begin to discuss its next-generation plans with partners at the Game Developers Conference later this month in San Francisco. The show is aimed at developers and business executives, so whether or not these discussions take place behind-closed-doors or publicly remains to be seen. At the consumer-facing E3 show in June, the company will reportedly formally unveil the new consoles and discuss its plans at a high level.

What are you hoping to see from Microsoft for the next generation of consoles? Let us know in the comments below!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for DarksjeiK
DarksjeiK

I obviously prefer Xbox One X’s power over the PS4 Pro for multiplatform titles but I hate the X’s sluggish OS/dash. Sony’s feel much more responsive and something about that typical Xbox signal with those crushed blacks ticks me off too. In a perfect world the Pro would have X’s power and accept the microsoft controller. I know that makes little sense but I’m just saying both brands/consoles have their own strengths

Avatar image for Vodoo
Vodoo

@DarksjeiK: I completely agree. The Xbox UI and dashboard is very laggy, compared to PS4's, even with strong internet. I think it's because it's running on a modified version of Windows and boots up and runs similarly from a hard drive. The PS4's UI is nice and quick once the system loads the dashboard.

Avatar image for timothyt
timothyt

I was using my PS4 Pro for about 95% of my gaming when I bought an XB1X last year, mainly to play Read Dead Redemption in preparation for the sequel. I was BLOWN AWAY at that 8 year old game completely revived in 4K and a silky smooth frame rate. Since then, every time there’s been a 3rd party offering I find myself getting the XBox version of the game. It’s just all around better. Sony still completely dominates with first party games and I’ll always have a PlayStation as long as they keep putting out games like GoW and Spider-Man, but the power-gap between these two machines is extremely noticeable and for games like RDR2, CoD 4, BF5, Anthem and The Division 2, my money went to MS not Sony’s camp.

The Backwards Compatibility and Game Pass give the system a lot more variety than Sony, even if MS exclusives have been worthless for the last few years (except Forza Horizons... wow). For $10/month I have access to Way more games than I have time to play, and a lot of them are top-notch (like the new Tomb Raider games) not just old one-off games. Seems to be much better value than PsNow, which I had for a few months then cancelled. I really think the Games-As-A-Service model (let’s hope they don’t call it GAAS) is the future. It’s also one more reason digital is the only horse in the race at this point.

Avatar image for jsprunk
JSprunk

I did a search for the word “exclusive” in this article and it came up exactly zero times. If that’s any indication of how many first-party exclusives will be available, then the number of Xbone 2’s I’ll be buying will probably be very similar to that.

Avatar image for imajinn
Imajinn

I'm hoping there's a new Killer Instinct to announce with all this. Because its the games that will ultimately get me to purchase any of these consoles.

Avatar image for angrycreep
angrycreep

@imajinn: I wanted hear news or some sort of update for the battletoads game that was announce last year, we haven't heard anything else since then and I also wanted here a release date For Ori And The Will of Wisps

Avatar image for imajinn
Imajinn

@angrycreep: I totally forgot all about a new Battletoads! You figure when they put Rash in KI, we would be close to news of the next game. Here's hoping E3 sheds some light. And I'm beyond ready for the new Ori game too.

Avatar image for alanzare
alanzare

Horrible idea

Still alot of people love buy disc and trade it later on

And how about retail s bussiness

Avatar image for timothyss10
timothySS10

@alanzare: there are 2 different xbox1-2 (yes im calling it now) in the works. the cheap probably will not have a disk drive, it may even be just a streamer device. the later will probably still have a disk dive just because of the massive point on this whole plot that people are missing. MOVIES! movies still sell physical disk by allot. if your system does not have a Blueray/Dvd player, and your competitors does, many consumers, who most are not to well informed about the finer points of both systems, will buy the one that can also play movies. so just to keep that alive, im sure the xbox1-2 will have a disk drive

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Chubby170

@alanzare: They dont want those. They want to control it all themselves. And once they do, good bye good deals and sales. They control everything.

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Ivanov70

Can't wait for the physical to digital. I have a whole room of discs to clean out. Now all we need are pc ports to xbox.

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Chubby170

@ivanov70: You would really get rid of the physical disks when going digital?

Avatar image for quis89
Quis89

@chubby170: I would. I'm not a collector. I just enjoy the experiences. I don't need a disc to enjoy experiences. In fact, it's less convenient.

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Chubby170

@quis89: Well I guess that's the difference. I dont like to "rent" because I feel its just wasted money.

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joey2010

This better cost $79. Otherwise it would be pointless.

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angrycreep

@joey2010: $150.00 or $179.99 looks more realistic. Is gonna be under $200 is just a matter of how much under 200 dollars is going to be.

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mocano40

@angrycreep: I think it will be 199.99 although 150 would be sweet.

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mbrogz3000

The makers and devs of all three consoles have been blatantly stripping away all the small reasons to own physical copies since the last gen. Boxes are cheaper than ever, no manuals, and the box liners are thinner than ever. Day one updates of 10+ GB anyway. And you need to have the disc present to play even though each disc has a unique cd key embedded.

The last nicest reason to own a physical disc still remains with Wii-U and their rounded over disc edges and full color print graphic label.

No issues with me if the Xbox One loses its drive as long as the savings is passed on to the customer.

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Ivanov70

@mbrogz3000: Switch and xbox have premium packaging PlayStation is the one with the recycled cardboard and the loud console made of the shittiest plastics on earth.

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Vamplife

@ivanov70: It may get somewhat loud but at least ps4 has games to play unlike boring coffee coaster xbox one.

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sullinsjb

@ivanov70: 91.6+ million people don't care.

Avatar image for vamplife
Vamplife

@sullinsjb: exactly

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angrycreep

@sullinsjb: I gave then my money when I bought mine but don't put me in that list because I do care.

Avatar image for chippiez
Chippiez

Microsoft can create new APIs, OSes and Hardware all day long -- they're going to founder hard in the gaming space if they don't get their thumb out of their ass with the games. The past two years have been sparse as hell on the games front. The few exclusives they have put out, outside of copy-paste Forza sequels, have been trash. Sea of Thieves and Crackdown3 being examples of the label, "trash".

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uberDave

@chippiez: It's adorable watching sony fanboys cling to the exclusives thing as long as they can, even when they know they won't be able to use it after this year.

Msoft already bought 7 new devs. Rumours (from the same people who predicted the last 5 purchases) say they are going after at least 2 more companies. In 2 years the xbox ecosystem will be awash with high end exclusives while sony sets into their early generation game drought as we wait for their studios to crank out the single title a generation that they can manage.

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Ivanov70

@chippiez: Even if they had tons of exclusives right now it wouldn't matter as some of the best games of this generation are currently out now and they all happen to be 3rd party with the exception of Nintendo.

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Marky360

Man so much going on in the Xbox camp I tell ya one thing E3 is going to be very interesting.

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Barquartz

If you buy your games on day one, then digital is comparable to disc in price. You obviously have money to burn, and you end up with Fallout 76 when you thought you were getting a real Fallout game. Double burn. Digital prices stay high for years, even though the competing disc medium has dropped in price considerably as competing retailers look to move old stock. Buying a used game disc is even cheaper. You can't buy used digital or borrow digital to test a game first. When you see how Microsoft maintains prices with the competition of the disc market, just imagine the future when Microsoft has no competition. And when the servers that you rely on stop supporting your game, oh well, you should have seen that coming. I keep all my game hardware & software, because the future is inevitable but not as pretty as some think.

My biggest complaint about the Xbox One is that many things that should work offline do not. Microsoft has no desire to fix this.

Will the Internet be universal and free in the future? Definitely not.

Will I be without cable and the Internet in the future? Considering the cost, yes.

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BMWPro77

So does all digital mean that the discs people trade in for digital downloaded versions get destroyed?! Imagine how much the values of certain games would go up and handicap the people who want to own physical copies of those games who have yet to buy them? This is not exactly a good idea in my opinion. It is conquesting one market to try and force another kind of media on the masses. There are certain games I don't mind owning on an HDD bought from PSN etc. however to go full in digital is not a great idea. Especially when we don't even know what will happen to the traded in media. I can just imagine what they plan to do with it. I can hear the crunching of the shredders at Microsoft now.

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Ivanov70

@BMWPro77: I'm not all that tech savvy but I haven't inserted a disc in a console in years.

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Chubby170

@ivanov70: thats funny. I do anything I can to avoid digital. Different strokes for different folks....

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Vamplife

@chubby170: To anyone that bought all digital for ps3 got screwed because most of those games didn't transfer to ps4 unless it said crossbuy. So you lost money unless you kept your ps3.

Avatar image for chubby170
Chubby170

@vamplife: You dont have to tell me. I hate digital.

If gaming were to go all digital, my gaming days would be extremely limited and I would probably just wait until emulations for those systems came around.

Avatar image for BMWPro77
BMWPro77

@chubby170: I'm with you. There are only a few and when I say few I mean "very few" games I would or have bought from PSN just because they weren't available in physical form. I wasn't happy about it however it was the only way I could play Mega Man 9 and 10.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

If MS is pushing an all-digital console future, they should also push ISPs to get rid of data caps, stop treating bits and bytes like a finite resource.

Multiple games this gen are over 100GB, that will probably be the norm for AAA games next gen.

Perhaps they could arrange partnerships with ISPs where Xbox Live can use unlimited amounts of data, but that would be a net neutrality violation.

Avatar image for uberDave
uberDave

@Spartan_418: They have, actually. Microsoft (and google) are actually some of the biggest corporate supporters of net neutrality and related issues.

But as long as the republican party is essentially a marketing wing of comcast, that's not going to do much.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@uberDave: Specifically data caps, though? Haven't really seen that discussed in the context of net neutrality

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thedarklinglord

Until Microsoft decides to get into the ISP game to ensure that 1) everyone has decent high speed internet and 2) there will be no data caps, they really need to abandon their goal of an all-digital platform - unless their ultimate goal is to kill the Xbox. Personally, I don't know why they aren't making moves to that end (becoming an ISP, not killing the Xbox). They want people to be pay for Gold. They want people to pay for Game Pass. If Microsoft was also offering high speed internet, they could offer a Gamer Bundle that combines your internet with Xbox Gold and Game Pass at a reasonably reduced price, which might entice people who ordinarily eschew those services - like me - to go ahead to get the bundle.

I'm fine with all-digital gaming on PC because I'm already paying for my internet (and not being asked to pay an additional $60 a year by Steam to use their service) which, for better or worse, has become just a necessary evil of life, and, thankfully, I have access to moderately decent internet, and, at the moment, I'm not crippled by data caps. But the second my internet connection/speed becomes subpar or I'm saddled with data caps, I'll probably end up buying a lot fewer games on PC, which may, in turn, ultimately diminish how much time I spend gaming...unless I had another option, an option where digital downloads weren't necessary, a option where I could, say, take some sort of physical media and place it inside a device that could then read the data off that media and allow me to play video games entirely separate from the internet. Like, I don't know, a home media console or something.

I get that Microsoft has this massive boner for an all-digital world and, sure, I get it. I feel the same way about that Star Trek-ian universe where all books, all music, all media can be accessed on command, entirely for free, on a lightweight tablet that everyone owns or just by speaking the request aloud to my near-sentient domicile. We've got a pretty decent approximation of the tablet, and Alexa is at least a dimwitted, three-toed cousin to the Star Trek computer systems, but we just aren't there yet on the all media instantly available and the free of charge part. So, sadly, I have to go on dreaming. Similarly, the world isn't quite there on the widespread, incorruptible tech part that would allow Microsoft to have their all-digital Xbox. We're still bottlenecked by the spotty internet coverage and corporate greed of ISPs. But, hey, you go right on dreaming, Microsoft. Maybe someday we'll both have our dreams come true. Maybe.

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hyru99

Dude I have to pay for my bandwidth. It took me 100gigs to download Gears of War 4. I don't know why it was that huge, when my steam games are like HALF of that. I also like to rent many games from Gamefly, when I am not sure about actually buying a game. Watch stupid MS try to make a rent-a-game service which would be absurd, considering you are limited to Xbox games only.

Digital games are inevitable when it comes to PCs, but consoles are NOT PCs, and should never be really. They are the alternative that should be able to run discs whenever. And I guess if this continues, we won't have much backwards compatibility unless you what, trade in the game somehow for a digital copy. How does that work anyway? Sounds like to much trouble honestly.

Than we have the issue of disc space. Efficient Hard Drives are more expensive than DVD drives, and you bet that this won't be a factor in future consoles. This just sounds like such a bad idea, why mess with disc-less anyway. Just leave it be and make it option only.

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lina_baby_doll

We need more teraflops. Period.

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Rekonym

All I'm waiting for is a more powerful Nintendo Switch. Like a Switch Pro or something along the lines. I'm pretty sure we'll get one in 2020.

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Shantmaster_K

A lot of exciting stuff this year for E3. Can’t wait.

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Lordcrabfood

No interest in digital only system. I have bought and sold games for years making a nice profit, so no way I am supporting this. However I have not made much from games on MS platforms so no big deal.

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Jrxbarrett

MS is about to go crazy at E3 this year. If forward compatibility is true, oh man. It's over.

Avatar image for Brettsky128
Brettsky128

The fact that it's an option means it's not that big of a deal. I don't plan on ever buying an all-digital Xbox, but as an option to keep costs down, it does make sense. I just hope they know that it would be stupid of them to make the NEW Xbox digital only.

Avatar image for openmind23
OpenMind23

Well that would be a complete oversight if they make such a console.

I mostly play games on my PC, but do play exclusives and like to have a console for that and renting movies.

But I also have a HUGE collection of Blu-rays and now buying UHD's too, so they would be unusable with such a device.

I have recently purchased a dedicated 4K player though, so not really a problem for myself anymore; but if I did decide to buy a next-gen console in the future for exclusive games I couldn't play on my gaming PC, I would choose one with an UHD drive over one without :)