Microsoft announced the most anticipated next-generation gaming console Xbox Project Scarlett at E3 2019. Amid all the speculation about the Xbox going all digital, Microsoft cleared the air by announcing that the Xbox will have a physical optical drive. It is coming in 2020 with a Halo Infinite title.
Gaming consoles are getting more complicated, gone are the days when you buy a disc or a cartridge and insert instantly into your console to start playing. nowadays, digital games are taking over every other platform. If you need a game now, you should either go to a retailer or an online store to buy the game you need and gigabytes of data will be downloaded to your account or console. So everyone is eyeing to do away with physical discs.
Why does it matter now?
First, let's understand the pros and cons of Optical Drive and we'll come to digital storage later.
Optical Drive Storage
Optical Drive storage has data read and written by a laser. Back in the 1980’s, Modern Optical storage discs started a revolution - with Compact Disc released by Philips and Sony in 1982. They revolutionized portable data storage.
Sure, entertainment and gaming industries still rely heavily on optical storage, like the blu-ray discs in 2019 to reach out to the audience. However, with the arrival of the cloud, the importance and the need for optical storage is fading away slowly.
Let's see the pros and cons of having an Optical drive in your Xbox console.
- Usability - If you are a huge Xbox fan and you have a wide range of collection of optical discs of games then Xbox Project Scarlett will help you have the advantage of playing your old games along with the new digital ones.
- Inexpensive - Another big advantage of the optical disc is they are inexpensive to manufacture. Plastic and aluminum foils are the materials used. It brings down the cost for the makers compared to the requirement of cloud servers to provide games.
- Limited storage capacity - The maximum storage an optical disc can offer is 27GB by a 12-cm Blu-ray disc. Which is optimal for movies and music but the total size of modern HD games are going way beyond 27GB.
- Unlike Digital, Optical discs require a special drive to read and write the data and most of the laptops and PCs are doing away with optical disks due to their reduced usability in times of digital revolution. Even the gaming consoles cost will come down with the removal of the optical drive.
Digital or Cloud storage
Digital or Cloud storage is where the data is stored on a server owned by other companies, which can be accessed by you at your own will without the need to carry a physical storage or reading device. Google Drive and Dropbox are few known examples of cloud storage.
However, nearly every application today relies heavily on cloud data for computing and to deliver information. Gaming is another industry evolving into more digital storage with live stream gaming taking the center stage.
- Off-Site management - The biggest advantage to have cloud storage is to manage your gaming data off-site. There is no need for you to cater to space for your physical discs and storage devices. You can work and access TBs of your own data from your Xbox console with ease.
- Connectivity - Cloud storage lets users access and share their data at any time, any place from your console. You don't need to physically change the discs to play multiple games, all of Your games collection will be at your fingertips and can be accessed with just a click in your Xbox. This is the most appealing feature of cloud storage that is letting everyone to ditch physical optical drive.
- Speed - The data transfer speed using cloud storage is higher than the top-notch physical optical drive. The higher speed of the internet is essential to access your gaming data.
- Immortal Storage - The cloud storage lets your gaming data to be immortal. Unlike physical discs which are going to wither away sooner or later, cloud storage offers an endless amount of data stored and accessed without getting damaged or erased.
- Costs for the long term - Even though cloud storages offer more flexibility and comfort, they come with a cost. Your monthly subscriptions will become hefty for the long term. But you can cancel at any moment.
- Security - The digital revolution is going up rapidly without the necessary security mechanisms in place to protect our data. In the advent of Cyberattacks, your hard earned gaming progress can be wiped out within a second.
- Speed - The usability of your digital console depends wholly on your internet connection's speed. Any disruption to speed can create a lot of irritation for your gaming experience. It might take forever to download huge amounts of data required for the game with a slow Internet especially when you live to stream your game.
What happens next?
Spencer, the chief executive of Xbox talked about how many people still prefer to have physical libraries, and it’s one thing that Microsoft has considered when designing the next Xbox.
For now, it seems that the optical drive will be available in Xbox Project Scarlett. Few years down the line though, physical discs will become obsolete - just like the CD and Floppy. For one, the comfort and flexibility offered by digital gaming outweigh the optical drive. All the gaming consoles will slowly become fully digital.
Google, for instance, announced its ambitious Stadia and Microsoft came out with xCloud. Both of them offer high-end games to be played without any console or high-end PC. Hardware requirements are not necessary to play games on those platforms. You only need high-speed internet to play. While optical drive will end soon, we may also see the end of some consoles and high-end PCs depending upon the success of platforms like Stadia.