Microsoft made a lot of terrible public relations mistakes when it rolled out the Xbox One, but thankfully none of those mistakes were reflected in the actual console, which has lived up to the hype and was a hot seller over the holiday shopping season. But in an interview with the Official Xbox Magazine, Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer reveals that Microsoft actually came incredibly close to making a design decision that would likely have handed Sony an easy victory in the latest console wars.
Essentially, Spencer says that Microsoft was still considering removing the Xbox One’s disc drive as late as mid-2013 and selling all games digitally over the Internet. While such non-disc-based games probably are the future of console gaming, releasing a console that didn’t allow for any disc-based games in 2013 would have been a disastrous mistake because many potential Xbox customers lack the high-speed connections that are needed to make such a system viable. What’s more, in an age where ISPs have started slapping subscribers with bandwidth caps, it’s very difficult to see how gamers could regularly download enormous files onto their consoles without getting hit with unwelcome overage fees.
“There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues,” Spencer acknowledges. “So we decided — which I think was the right decision — to go with the Blu-ray drive and give the people an easy way to install a lot of content. From some of those original thoughts, you saw a lot of us really focusing on the digital ecosystem you see on other devices – thinking of and building around that.”
It goes without saying that happy Xbox One owners are breathing a sigh of relief that Microsoft made this decision.