We often recommend products we like. If you buy anything via links on our site, we may earn a small commission.
All gamers cringe at the phrase “discless console.” It’s enough to make us retreat into the shadows, back to our precious console that actually has an optical drive.
Us gamers don’t have a grip on reality, we have a grip on physical games—the fact of the matter is that all-digital consoles are coming, whether we like it or not.
The Birth of the Discless Console
A discless console is the kind of creature that you never touch or lay eyes on. However, one company decided to defy all odds by creating an all-digital console of its own. Microsoft recently unveiled its discless Xbox One S, which has already infiltrated the shelves of our favorite superstores.
The new Xbox One S comes with no disc drive whatsoever—it looks just like a slab of white rock that has a severe absence of emotion. You can’t feed it discs, so why even have a console at all? It just sits there in front of your TV with nothing but a lifeless hum.
Instead of having physical game cases that you can alphabetically arrange in your gaming cabinet, you’ll have a pile of game download cards or an inbox full of emailed receipts from the Microsoft Store. Despite the fact that Microsoft is still marketing the regular Xbox One S and the Xbox One S as its flagship consoles, the concept of an all-digital console is still worrisome—other gaming giants will likely follow suit.
What All-Digital Consoles Mean for Gaming
Unfortunately, discless consoles pose a threat to the community of gamers. While some might view discless consoles in a positive light, there’s really nothing to get excited about.
No Freedom for Gamers
With discless consoles come the end of our freedom. When we lack a physical copy of a game, we can’t even let a friend borrow it—they’ll have to purchase the game in order to play. Ultimately, that means more money for AAA gaming companies.
Owning only digital copies of games means you can’t even head to your nearest GameStop to trade them in. You’re forced to hold onto games you dislike or finish, with no opportunity to sell them.
Slow Download Times
One of the most irritating parts about discless consoles is the time you have to spend waiting for a game to download. When you pop a disc into your Xbox One, it still has to download some data for the game. However, downloading an entire game from the Microsoft Store can take ages—this is especially true if you have a poor internet connection.
Everyone’s prone to the occasional lag and buffer. Some people can’t even get a good internet connection at their location, as cable companies only run their wires in certain territories. If we all could have the ultra-fast Google Fiber, a discless console would at least have manageable download speeds. Sadly, that won’t happen for a long time.
That being said, I can’t even imagine how Microsoft can pull off both a discless console and its cloud-based Xbox Scarlett project at the same time. Why can’t we go back to the good ol’ days when inserting a disc meant instant gameplay?
More Expensive Games
The games won’t have a higher price because they’re digital, they’ll just never go on sale. At least at Walmart, Target, or GameStop, we can at least wait for the next big sale in order to buy a game we’ve been wanting.
When you scour the Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store, or PlayStation Store enough, you’ll notice that new games never go on sale—not for a long time. Instead, the only games you can actually afford are either outdated or just really, really bad.
Death of Game Stores
The loss of game stores is perhaps the saddest effect of all-digital consoles. Game stores are already adapting to the new digital trend by providing download cards alongside physical game copies. If game companies go discless, it’s only a matter of time before we see GameStop, EB Games, and other independent game stores close their doors for good.
Let’s not forget that shopping at game stores means that you can actually pay in cash. Purchasing a game online forces you to use a credit or debit card, which some may view as an invasion of privacy. Sure, you could still purchase gift cards to the Xbox or Nintendo Store with cash, and then pay for the game online, but who wants to go through all that trouble?
The End of Discs Is Nigh
As much as I hate to say it, I think that discless consoles will take over in the near future. With a huge amount of PC gamers already digitally downloading games with Steam, and Microsoft brandishing its new discless console, we’ll only see more copycats in the future. Ultimately, an increase of all-digital consoles means fewer tangible games.
Soon, physical games will wind up just like arcades—they’ll become just a story that we tell our children. Do you miss true arcades just as much as I do? Check out our article on the reasons why arcades vanished, and find out if they’ll ever make a comeback.