Last night, Microsoft officially announced a new, all-digital version of the Xbox One during the latest episode of Inside Xbox today, confirming previous rumours. It will have a 1 TB hard drive and be $250 (around £200; pricing and availability TBA), with Microsoft saying it will receive price drops to always keep it cheaper than the standard Xbox One S.
“We expect to maintain at least a $50 difference between Xbox One S and the all-digital version during sales,” said Microsoft’s Lawrence Hryb. Providing Microsoft also maintain a £40-£50 price difference in the UK, it's likely we'll be able to pick up an Xbox One S All-Digital for around £180, even as low as £120 during sales.
“Microsoft sets a suggested retail price, but specific pricing and offers vary by retailer,” a spokesperson for Microsoft told Kotaku in an email. “The suggested retail price for the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is $50 USD less than Xbox One S and we expect to maintain at least this price difference between the two consoles following launch on May 7.”
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is the same as the existing Xbox One S minus the optical drive, meaning it won’t play physical discs. Instead, players will need to download games from the Microsoft Store. To help with this t comes with Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3 pre-installed.
In addition, owners will have the option of paying £1 for a three-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft also announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate today, a subscription that combines both Game Pass and Xbox Gold into a single bundle for $15 a month (around £12, but UK pricing TBA). It’s clear the All-Digital Edition and new Game Pass Ultimate tier are meant to dovetail together, but since neither is dramatically cheaper than the existing alternatives, the entire package feels slightly lacklustre.
In exchange for a discount upfront, potential All-Digital owners are giving up the optical-drive, and with it the ability to take advantage of cheap, older used games from not just this console generation but past ones as well thanks to Microsoft’s robust backwards compatibility program. For people who only plan to download games digitally it’s still a nice, cheaper option to have, but it’s not as aggressive as some might have expected this late into a console generation in which the Xbox One has lagged behind its predecessor.