If the rumor is true, Microsoft has a unique opportunity to make a special product here.
A new rumor has appeared that suggests that we didn’t really understand Microsoft’s full plans when they got leaked.
Before we get to the rumor, let me point you to that said leak. Last September, Microsoft unwittingly leaked part of their plans for their future consoles. Those plans included making a mid-generation console refresh with no optical disc drive, and upgraded controllers with haptic feedback, codenamed Sebile.
That rumor snowballed into more recent rumors about Microsoft changing their direction, with their games going third party. Microsoft did confirm that they were making a change, but the official announcement explaining how their new direction will go is coming next week.
That rumor that became real, had nothing to say about hardware. But it drove speculation, and other rumors came up, that Microsoft was considering or already decided to bow out of making consoles, and just become another third party publisher. This speculation was also driven by rumors that Microsoft was having stocks of their physical Xbox Series games pulled from stores.
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And this is where we get to the new rumor, which turns all of this around. In the latest episode of the Prime Time Gaming podcast, guest contributor MAGG revealed some new details he cites to his own personal sources.
MAGG confirmed that Microsoft has definitely cancelled their plans for a mid-console refresh. We had also reported on earlier rumors that they already made this decision, but getting this corroboration adds even more credibility to this claim.
And now, the big rumor. MAGG says that the next generation of Xbox consoles will no longer come with its own internal optical disc drive. Instead, there will be an external disc drive that can be purchased separately.
To put this into perspective, Sony launched a new, slightly smaller model of the PlayStation 5, that doesn’t come with an optical disc drive. In contrast to this rumor, Sony is also selling an internal optical disc drive upgrade, that has to be installed to work.
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MAGG ends with his own personal speculation that the Sebile controllers will be held back in favor of the next generation console, but the big news here is the disc drive rumor.
Microsoft happens to have a huge opportunity if this rumor is true. As we know, Microsoft makes tablets and laptops under the Surface brand, aside from their Xbox consoles.
Given Microsoft’s unique position, they can make an optical disc drive standard for all their hardware. It could use Thunderbolt 3 or OcuLink connectors, and use its own protocol. Or, Microsoft could make a new connector standard. This Microsoft-only optical disc drive could work on their Surface products, their Xbox consoles, and even the rumored Xbox portable gaming handheld.
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And that would completely flip the script. Because instead of abandoning physical media, Microsoft would be in a place to reintroduce physical in a big way, not just for games, but other media applications. If Microsoft wanted to, they could even commission a new disc format to replace 4K UHD Bluray, perhaps one to better suit the needs of large modern day video games.
Microsoft really has no limit on what they can do here, but for now, all we have is a rumor to wildly speculate on.