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Next-Gen Consoles "Probably Won't Have Physical Media"

So says one former Microsoft executive. Better appreciate your discs now because evidently, they may not last much longer.

Before this generation of consoles kicked off, Microsoft had originally planned to abandon the discs and go for a digital-only approach. But they nixed this idea due to gamers who simply weren't ready to sacrifice their physical media.

Very likely, we won't get that lucky in the new generation, though, and it will "probably" extend to all next-gen consoles. This is what former president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Development Division Robbie Bach told GeekWire in a recent interview:

"Does it have a physical media? Probably not, so how does that look? Is it just a game box or is it more? What’s the balance between what an Apple TV is and what an Xbox or a PlayStation 4 is? These are really interesting questions, and the teams going to have to wrestle with those. That next generation will be a whole new game."

I suppose nobody will be surprised if discs disappear in the new generation, but perhaps the big question is: When will that be? The previous era of gaming lasted longer than any other generation in the industry's history, dragging on for 8 years (8 for Xbox, 7 for PlayStation, 6 for Nintendo); will this one be even longer? Or are we already closing in fast on the time when physical copies of games will be a thing of the past?

Tags: next gen consoles, next generation, physical media, video game industry

9/7/2015 11:28:33 AM Ben Dutka

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Temjin001
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 11:55:37 AM
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I doubt it.
I think at the worst they'll make it an option.

Personally I've already gone mostly digital so I don't mind either way.

Edit: wasn't it predicted by next year we'd all be using 3DTV's?

Last edited by Temjin001 on 9/7/2015 11:56:16 AM

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maxpontiac
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 3:36:09 PM

Agreed. I can see an all digital future eventually, but I believe there are too many us out there who like the discs!

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1torulemall
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 12:35:48 PM
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That is something that i don't like as a prospect.I am a huge fan of physical release and i am willing to pay the price of a physical game many more times than the price of its digital release.

But i don't think they have the "guts" yet to go against big chain retail shops since they are buying million copies of retail games and they have a reason to also sell each company's console.The majority of the profit in game sales are from the game sales.The profit in console sales is actually quite small (at least to my knowledge in my country).If physical release then stop the shops will no longer have a strong reason to only sell consoles.This will be possible to happen when every console company is able to sell consoles directly to consumer without the need of shops to the majority of countries globally.

That's why i think at least for one more console generation we will enjoy physical releases.

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Nerull
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 10:37:23 AM

This is a good point. Also many countries still have abysmal internet speeds and bandwidth caps. Removing physical media essentially kills the idea of selling games in foreign markets.
Not to mention if your console ever dies and needs replacing, how much fun is it going to be re-downloading every single game at close to 50 gigs a pop?

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TrueAssassin86x
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 12:39:04 PM
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The day that physical media dies is the day gaming dies for me.

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Temjin001
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 1:27:37 PM

for some it was x86 processors for others it's digitally transferred games. it still surprises me how some find something other than the actual entertainment itself as reasons for why they won't play.

EDIT: I think someone else around here who comes in on occasion won't play games if it means the console has an external power brick.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 9/7/2015 1:31:03 PM

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Lone Wanderer
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:42:35 PM

Sad but true...

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Ignitus
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 1:48:37 PM
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It will be PS Vita all over again. Nothing to worry. They will learn.

If they don't. What's the purpose of a console? I will must likely game on a PC. Console manufacturers are already treating console gaming as PC gaming: We have to upgrade our console's hard drives to make up room for more games; We have to download updates and patches to our games and console's OS, we have to beta test their "Finished" games and on top of that, we have to pay a console tax to play on-line.

So Yes, if consoles ditch physial media and from then on I can only play downloadable games, I will be jumping ship to PC. The games are cheaper and free on-line gaming.

Last edited by Ignitus on 9/7/2015 2:00:05 PM

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Ignitus
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 2:01:57 PM

My bad, I meant PSP Go.

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1torulemall
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 1:49:50 PM
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Digital ownership simply means you don't "own" the product.You can't lent it.You can't sell it.In some harsh terms you may not even have it on more than one consoles even though you own them and are registered to you.And if by a chance the company with console closes or the item is removed from the online store you simply lose it.

Those are serious drawback for us.Digital distribution is one way trip unfortunately but that doesn't mean we will lay a red carpet for it and forget our rights in order to keep playing games.At least that's my thoughts.

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Lone Wanderer
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:33:15 PM

Exactly this. To all you digital owners, stfu. The more you talk the more prove your drone/sheep mentality.

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slow and smart
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:47:42 PM

I agree.
I don't want this,now i go on the web and can make good deals and i OWN the game and can sell it later on.
Digital only is in the end not a good thing,as an option i have no problem with it,but i NEVER would prefer digital over physical

Last edited by slow and smart on 9/7/2015 4:52:56 PM

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Bio
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 5:09:24 PM

You don't own a physical game any more than you do a digital one. Either way you're purchasing a license to the content.

All digital distribution means cheaper games, never having to stand next to neckbeards at Gamestop, preloaded games, and other awesome stuff.

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 8:22:04 PM

I highly doubt game prices would drop with the disappearance of physical media. The industry has an opportunity right now to lower the prices of digital media and start getting consumers more interested in the idea if that were true. And yet it hasn't happened. And even still you got guys from MS in this article saying all digital is going to happen and there's the idea that games will be cheaper. However, none of it goes hand in hand.

It just not a reality. All of us consumers should realise that.

Aside from steam and PC games the digital market for console games doesn't fluctuate much unless you subscribe to psplus. But those deals come around long after a games release.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 9/7/2015 8:25:41 PM

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Bio
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 10:31:44 AM

We're already seeing it with PC with Steam, though. Publishers selling a large portion of their games for cheaper, initially, and going for much bigger sales, much more often, and sooner after release, with the cumulative effect being I've paid full price for a PC game twice in the past 5 years, because I didn't want to wait even a few days to play Borderlands 2 or Bioshock Infinite.

Consoles are getting better about it, too, with PS Plus and Games with Gold. For some reason MS and Sony are both just slow as hell on the uptake with digital, but they've got another 7-8 years before they need to put out another machine, and I'm confident that's enough time for them to finally get their act together. Nintendo likely never will, but that's because they're all completely nuts.

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Neo_Aeon666
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 11:56:20 AM

@ Bio

*You don't own a physical game any more than you do a digital one. *

Yes you do. The fact you can sell it is enough of a difference. At the end of PS3/360 gen I sold all my games and consoles and got myself a PS4 with a few games. Didn't cost me anything. Most of the money came from the games. Once I am done with them I don't plan on keeping them to gather dust. I recycle them for future entertainment.

I end up losing money but waaayyyyyy less than if I were to go all digital and be stuck with my *renting* and lose all my games once I switch gen.

Steam is good for PCs since it's an *eternal evolving gen* but if we try to adopt a digital purchase only to the console market *we* as the consumer just end up on the losing side.

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Bio
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 2:42:48 PM

Whether you can sell it or not doesn't mean you own the game, and the secondary market existing at all probably does more to keep costs high than anything else. Nobody who uses Gamestop to recycle their games should be allowed to complain about the cost of games. Every time someone buys a game from GS for $55, used, plays it, sells it back to GS for $15 and buys something else, they may as well be pirating the game for all the good it does the developers and publishers. It hurts their bottom line in the same exact way.

The PSN Store and XBL are now continually evolving ecosystems much like, but less mature than, Steam (only because Steam has been around a few years longer). There's no reason you'd lose your games in the switch to new consoles unless Sony or MS decides to completely screw their consumer.

Also, digital means never having to worry about my games. If a hurricane hits my house and destroys all my stuff, I may have to buy a new PC, a new Vita and rebuy my Vita games, but I don't have to buy back my old Steam games, which is good since my library on Steam is pushing 300 by now. Can you imagine packing up and shipping 300 games any time you moved? Ugh.

Going digital is all about making that first jump. I used to hate the idea of reading a book on a tablet or phone. Now you'll never convince me to buy a physical book again. So much nicer having 100 books in my pocket no matter where I go. I just had to convince myself to give it a shot. People may as well get comfortable with digital now, because it's inevitable anyway.

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 2:24:58 PM
Reply

It HAS to be at a minimum an option. We've been hearing this for a long time and it's far from a conclusion.

Bandwidth and Internet availability will always exist or pose a problem. Beyond that HDD space will always be a problem. There is too many negatives for a company to neglect physical media completely. Those three things I mentioned drive the ability to download games. With even one of them prohibiting the download pocess in some way, the whole idea falls apart.

As a company you would be neglecting a large consumer base. The consumer base who can't get high speed internet, the consumer who has lackluster Internet speeds at best, and the consumer who can't afford the console with large amounts of HDD space. Think about this: why would these companies offer a base console with very minimal HDD space if they are going to abandon the only option that makes it viable. Which is physical media. Unfortunately this generation physical media is taking up just as much space.

It's just not a viable option to leave it behind. I have been strictly downloading my games since Destiny released - so about a year - and while it's convenient I'm not unaware of the problems that exist. I am lucky to get high speed Internet and and don't mind deleting game data to relieve space. But those are real problems and they will not be going away in the near future.

Edit: not to mention the retail side of the business. They will not be able to abandon that side of things.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 9/7/2015 2:26:27 PM

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 2:55:26 PM

I'd also like to add that Collectors Editions with physical "swag" will be non existent. The more I think about it the more I believe physical media will exist for longer than not.

Microsoft can try and make the transition but if no other company follows, they'll be up a creek.

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TGSA
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 2:31:20 PM
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I don't see it happening next console generation. There are still far too many people in rural areas or who don't have the bandwidth (and not just in the US). Microsoft may try to make that jump, but it'll hurt them versus other consoles that have physical media.

I personally only buy physical media for my consoles, but have been mainly digital on my PC (where the price is significantly cheaper for purchasing digitally). My issue is that consoles digital prices equal retail prices, even though the additional costs that go into retail sales are not there. What's worse is when the physical copy is cheaper than the digital edition.

If the next consoles were digital only, I might not make the switch and just stick with PC.

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Solid Fantasy
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 2:43:08 PM
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Is it just me or is the physical copy of a lot of games becoming more and more tangible? I know we don't have the manual books anymore, but the CE of games are coming with more and more toys. From that perspective it kind of puts a plot hole in this guys theory.

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 2:56:21 PM

Fair point. I just thought about that for a second and yeah it really does hinder the theory.

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Bio
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 2:46:06 PM

There are digital collector's editions that come with toys and gizmos and whatnot, but only a digital copy of the game. Absolutely no reason that can't become the norm.

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rjmacready
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 3:49:07 PM
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Personally, I mostly prefer digital games. After a long day at work and a good workout, I want to come home and relax, not have to get up and switch discs every time I want to play a different game.
Its not being lazy, its just so much easier holding down the PlayStation button and then scrolling over to a new game, than getting out of bed, walking over to switch a new disc, then getting back in bed. After a long day, if I'm home, I just want to relax and play, or relax and watch Netflix.
We moved on from CDs to digital music, didn't we? Another example is its easier to watch Family Guy episodes on Netflix than switching through the ton of DVDs every 5 episodes.
Digital is just so much easier.
The caveats being one, used game sales being much cheaper with physical media of course, and two, the ability to sell one of your games on Amazon or somewhere else. I definitely would miss the heavy discount on older physical games sometimes, and the ability to sell some of mine, but I trust if everything was digital that they would find some way to incorporate buying and selling used digital copies of games for all of us as well.
Lastly, as long as the memory is sufficient on consoles to handle a decent amount of digital games, then that concern would be addressed as well.
Its mainly about entertainment convenience for us, the consumer, and I just think digital is simply easier.

Last edited by rjmacready on 9/7/2015 3:50:20 PM

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Lone Wanderer
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:36:11 PM

^merica! I literally get sick knowing people like you share the same air as me.

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maxpontiac
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 6:21:24 PM

@Lone Wanderer - A tad bit extreme, don't you think?

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Temjin001
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 9:17:47 PM

I'm a digital guy too. when I was younger i would've hated it. Trading games on the school bus was a big thing for me back in the day. These days though, where my free time is limited, even making stops to go into a store, wait in line, and buy a game, then go home to run updates is something I'd rather avoid, including also swapping game discs.
Ever since Sony started doing pre-loading (and also my state doesn't charge tax on pre-orders but they do when it's not a pre-order) and the patches are installed in advance too, the perks are too great for me. Witcher 3 was probably my only regret. That's in part because I would've much preferred it on PC.

Sony does need to think of a trading program though. Steam on PC is like the model example of what consoles should strive for. And they have. Pre-loading and cloud saves happened there way before consoles adopted it. I'm sure license trading is coming down the road for PS users.

Edit: I'll likely also get Fallout4 for PC because Bethesda has a real rocky track record when it comes to console ports as far as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout is concerned.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 9/7/2015 9:24:00 PM

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Neo_Aeon666
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 12:11:24 PM

Basically *I'm lazy so go ahead and F*** me in the ass* and *I don't mind if it gets worst and you stop using lube! So long as I don't have to move y'know XD*

On a more serious note we need to have both medias. I buy digital when it's dirt cheap since I don't get to sell it back and since there is no guaranty that they will let me play that game later when the gen is over.

If you guys were smart, instead of letting them mess your insides from behind, you would ask for stuff like: Once we purchase a disk we would like to be able to play it without putting it in the system. We don't want to lose the value of what we are buying but we are lazy so get on with it and find a solution you lazy, greedy and evil investors! Because we all know in the end that they are to blame for all the sadness there is in the industry. They will be glad to have you pay the same price for a digital extended *rental* and remove even more of your rights XD

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cowboynwo
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:15:45 PM
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didnt they say the same thing last gen?

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:49:33 PM

Yes...

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Temjin001
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 6:42:41 PM

MS tried and failed... Miserably.

What they'll likely eventually do is offer something like a slimmer 2TB digital only model for the same price as, say, a optical drive based 500GB model. This way both camps can be happy.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 9/7/2015 6:43:15 PM

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Lone Wanderer
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 4:37:34 PM
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I see a very dark future for me...

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rjmacready
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 5:40:15 PM
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'merica, you mean the land of free choice? The bunch of physical games sitting in my house wouldn't affect my life if they were all digital....except being easier to play. Sorry, I would have responded sooner, but I was playing a bunch of different games that I downloaded from the PS Store. XOXO! :) ;)

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Neo_Aeon666
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 12:19:18 PM

Yep you do have the choice of being ripped off. You can do it if you want but I want out. Some people also choose to commit suicide and it does't mean it's the correct option XD

As they are now, digital purchases for consoles are basically the same as the disc copies but with stripped rights. You pay the same for something with no resell value XD AND you don't even know if they will be compatible with PS5. This should be considered a crime and brought to court but they make money with it so they will let it slide XD

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Draguss
Monday, September 07, 2015 @ 8:48:32 PM
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Heard this one before. Question, do bands no longer release CDs? Are there no more movie and tv show box sets? This isn't what they think will inevitably happen, it's what they hope will happen.

Last edited by Draguss on 9/7/2015 8:51:02 PM

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DarthSayver21
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 12:46:41 AM
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Wasn't their articles floating about that claimed that the same during last gen for current gen? Which at the time it was next gen.

/only read title. Reading article now.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 5:29:32 AM
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This is the most obvious "prediction" I've seen so far this year.

*Obviously* the next gen will be based on digital distribution. Physical media will die *this* console generation. There's only two places where physical media still is somewhat relevant: The movie business and the console business, and both are in transit to digital distribution now.

PC gaming went digital a decade ago, music is by and large all digital now, heck even books are going digital.

So yeah - the most obvious prediction *ever*.


Last edited by Beamboom on 9/8/2015 5:29:54 AM

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Underdog15
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 11:40:23 AM

I think that's obvious for places like Norway and other countries with good digital infrastructure.

But a lot of sizable market, like the US and Canada for example, our internet service providers are so incredibly out of date, it's embarrassing. (We pay more for it, too... Good ol' oligopolies...) There are still a lot of areas without decent internet options. And even if people do have internet with decent speed, many don't have affordable data rates since most don't have unlimited data plans.

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telly
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 1:27:16 PM

I'll miss physical discs when they're gone -- I just enjoy being able to hold in my hand the Thing That Matters! But once they're gone that will certainly get rid of my "should or shouldn't I go all digital?" question i ask myself every single time I buy a AAA game, so at least that's something to look forward to.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 11:35:47 AM
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Weren't they supposed to disappear this generation?

So long as games take half a day to download, I can't see it working out.

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Breadlover
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 @ 9:06:22 PM
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I personally do not have a problem with the concept of digital distribution, but I do believe it will flop and won't really gain any sort of traction as a medium for selling games in many MANY areas where internet connection is still a constant hurdle to good online (and to be specfiic, gaming) experiences.

I get that people in the western hemisphere don't really have a problem with this, I mean, with 20-40Mbps download rates that shouldn't be surprising... but anyone who's stepped into places where 10Mbps means you're either filthy rich, or have "connections" within the service provider would understand immediately the gravity of imposing online-only content distribution.

I for one, live in such a place. If physical media disappears before corruption in my country does, it would spell the end of gaming for a few hundred thousand who rely on the discs like me.

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