So it’s finally happened. A home console without a disc drive, or cartridge slot or any capability of reading any physical media. It is instead “all digital”, as Microsoft has declared. Indeed, the new Xbox One S: All-Digital Edition will be with us very soon, on May 7th in fact, and it’s safe to say it has split opinion. Many had suspected its existence for some time and with Sony starting to talk more openly about the PS5, it was now or never.
Simply put, this is a 1TB Xbox One S without a disc drive and three games bundled in. So you’d expect a decent price cut right? Wrong. It will launch at an eye watering £199.99 for what is essentially old hardware bundled with old software – all with the ability to read discs removed. I picked up my Xbox One S on Black Friday in 2017 for £179.99. Granted mine only has a 500GB hard drive, but I got 4 games included, and one of them was Forza Horizon 3. Come on Microsoft, who do you think you are kidding here? I hope by now you can see where I stand on this particular matter.
If you cast your mind back to 2013 Nintendo pulled a similar, albeit slightly more surprising rabbit out the hat with the Wii Mini. This was a Wii with reduced capabilities such as no online connectivity or ability to read GameCube discs. Nintendo did, however, release it at a much lower price than the original Wii, at around £79.99. It’s safe to say they are normally pretty good at releasing new versions of their hardware (I mean, just look as the DS), however, rather quickly, the Wii Mini sank like a stone and it was pulled from production. Now, my question to you is why would anyone buy a newer console that can do less, than an older console that can do more? You wouldn’t would you? And in the Wii Mini’s case, no one did. You see where I’m going here?
Let’s hit pause for a second, and in the interest of fairness, run through what the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition includes in the box. You get the console itself with a 1TB hard drive and a wireless controller. You also get three games bundled in: Minecraft, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 3 (which is a bit cheeky considering 4 has been out for a while now). That’s your lot. Microsoft seem to think the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition offers real value for money, but for me it’s still far too expensive for what it is. They boast that your game saves and library are safely stored in the cloud, and that you can pre-purchase games and have them installed ready for launch. That all sounds good, but it is nothing the original Xbox One S can’t do. By losing the disc drive, you lose the ability for your game console to be a truly affordable entertainment hub. The original Xbox One S boasted a reasonably priced way to play Blu-Ray and 4K discs. You’ll now have to buy content from the Microsoft Store for the all digital version, and it’ll cost you a lot more than popping into HMV at the weekend.
Call me old fashioned, but I still enjoy having physical copies of my games despite the fact you have to install every bleeding one of them before you can play them. Not only will it cost you more to buy digital versions, on average, but you will also lose your option to trade them in to recoup some money if you tire of them, as you won’t be buying any physical copies for your Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.
Also, backwards compatibility. If you decide to upgrade your Xbox 360 to the new all digital version, you’ll immediately lose your ability to play those games on the console. Sure, a vast amount of Xbox 360 titles are available on the Xbox Store, but at the time of writing Forza Horizon 2 was still priced at £29.99, so good luck with that.
I honestly can’t think of a good reason to purchase an Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. It’s too expensive and we still live in a world where people aren’t prepared to go “all digital” just yet. The resurgence of vinyl records a few years ago proves just that. If you are looking to join the current generation, do yourself a favour and pick up an original Xbox One S, or Xbox One X if you can afford it.
Trust me, this time next year, this will all have just been a bad dream.