Why the NextBox (Xbox 720) will have an optical drive.
So lately there have been a lot of rumors and what not saying that the NextBox will not feature a Disc Drive, but may have some type of "proprietary" media. While this seems like the way our current generation is headed ,it simply won't be the solution for the next generation of consoles. Read past the break to find out why I think that the rumors are false. This is strictly an opinion piece so don't take anything too personal.
If you are a hardcore gamer, or a gamer in general then you know the value of collect games, the feeling of having your shelves full of your collection. It's a damn bragging right, especially with the cost of video games; in my case I have well over 120 Xbox 360 games. I was a huge supporter of Microsoft's system through the RRoD and all, I myself went through 4 Xbox 360's before the Slims were released which seemed to eliminate the problem. Sadly for me however Microsoft kind of fell off the wagon with exclusives, started making more Kinect games and only offering us hardcore gamers a good game every couple of years. So what would happen if all those games that you own did not work on Microsoft's NextBox? Honestly, In their eyes they wouldn't care. Microsoft is always about innovating and moving forward, out with the old in with the new. They continuously push iterations of a product, upgrade it, downgrade it, cheapen it, whatever it takes to sell their product. Microsoft will see the 360 as old tech and want to shift focus to the NextBox however with such a strong community of gamers, just skipping past the 360 won't be feasible and they will lose a gigantic chunk of their fan base.
The people over at Microsoft's R&D aren't that stupid. To remove the optical drive means the only games capable of working on their NextBox will be downloadable only content. Hardcore gamers are hardcore for many reasons, they love videogames, they love competitive playing, they are a supporter of their favorite console, and most of all they love collecting games. I don't know anyone who considers themselves a hardcore gamer without a decently sized library of games. If we have nothing to show for what we own, than how can we brag about what we own? Backwards compatibility shouldn't be ruled out because of the success of the 360, Microsoft would be foolish to think we would give up our amazing collection.
Okay so you know that 250gb HDD you have or even 320gb HDD you have? Well imagine when games get more advanced, textures get bigger, files have to be larger, imagine when that 250GB HDD only holds about 10-12 video games in total. That's what you are faced with next generation, games will be huge in comparison to the standard dual-layer DVD size. I mean look at Playstation 3 exclusives, coming in at over 20gb sometimes. If Microsoft thinks that they can try and convince people to selectively download games to their console and/or get a huge hard drive to store all their data, customers will be turned away. Xbox 360 HDD's are already completely ridiculous in price, Microsoft has no shame in jacking up the price for their proprietary equipment that supports their product. Gamers won't take that lightly and they won't want to download gigantic sized video games and switch whenever they want to play a different one. I have a lot of videogames as do a lot of gamers I know. If I calculated how many Gigabytes of space they totaled up to be, we'd be going into Terabytes and that is a lot of data. Microsoft wouldn't risk that type of embarrassment unless they completely relied on small sized games to drive their NextBox, making it even more unlikely that it'll happen.
Messing with the idea of download only gaming would be a disaster right now. Maybe 10 years from now, but now is far too soon. A lot of people don't have the availability of true "High-Speed" internet and some have to pay for bandwidth like a data plan. So what would Microsoft do for these people? I doubt they'd want to take up most of their allotted bandwidth to download the game they actually have to pay for, that's ridiculous. The people who only have slow download speeds would also suffer as well. Remember going to midnight launches to get a game you can't wait to play? Imagine having to download the game and wait a few days just to play it. That is what we are looking at for a majority of the world if Microsoft decides to go without some type of physical media.
There is also the theory of cloud gaming, as it stands this is also restricted due to bandwidth issues across the world. I remember signing up for the On Live beta, and at the time my bandwidth was only "OK" to play games. I have Verizon Fios 25 down and 25 up. So I couldn't imagine the problems others would have if this became a way to play NextBox games. Imagine trying to play a game that requires heavy online play through a server with latency issues as it is. That would make it the most miserable experience ever.
For the first time in a long time this could mean fanboys from all sides could actually taking a stand at a company instead of supporting them even when they know in their heart that they are being screwed over. It's things like this that make me feel like this is the last generation of good gaming in general. Sure, we'll see some good games next gen, but we won't see them as frequent as we have this past generation. If that means preserving this generation another couple years let's do it. Let's all take a stand against this nonsense, let's not feed into the ridiculousness of physical media being obsolete. The PSPgo wasn't able to do it and a console sure as hell wouldn't be able to. Microsoft won't risk its reputation to try and release a NextBox incapable of playing disc, and what about people who want to trade games with friends, rent games from Gamefly, or similar stores. The world is a happier place with physical media. While doing this with music gave us the benefit of carrying our entire library with us wherever we go. It simply won't work at all with gaming, gamers and hardcore gamers alike.