Report Claims Next Xbox Due in 2013, Will Ditch Optical Disc Drive

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Microsoft may be looking to abandon optical discs for its next Xbox gaming console, but will still put games on physical media in the form of flash storage, according to a new rumor.

The next Xbox will launch in 2013, but it’s not clear when Microsoft will announce the system, an unnamed source told MCV. The source was apparently briefed under a strict non-disclosure agreement, but nonetheless took the information to the press.

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Omitting the disc drive doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out retail stores. MCV says Microsoft will use some kind of “interchangeable solid-state card storage,” which would presumably allow users to pick up new games in stores. If the rumor pans out, it sounds to me like Microsoft will use standalone game cards similar to those of Sony’s PlayStation Vita, but I wouldn’t rule out something more inventive.

This isn’t the first report of a next-generation Xbox with no disc drive. Last November, Digital Foundry reported that Microsoft will launch two versions of its next console. One would be a full-featured system with an optical drive, hard disk storage and backwards compatibility, while the other would be a cheaper, smaller set-top box. The goal would be to appease hardcore gamers while offering a lighter alternative to compete with Roku and Apple TV.

These sorts of rumors are only going to intensify over the next few months, ahead of the games industry’s E3 trade show in June. If Microsoft is planning to launch a new Xbox in 2013, an E3 reveal seems likely, as it would give game publishers ample time to work on games for the new hardware.

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