Rumors of an Xbox One Mini arriving this October spread over the past week. The promise of a smaller, cheaper console without a Blu-ray drive was enticing as console makers look forward to an all-digital future. Xbox Head Phil Spencer put an end to the speculation on Thursday though.
Spencer responded to a fan question on Twitter on if an Xbox One Mini would be revealed at a purported Microsoft event in October. His answer was short, to the point, and utterly debunking.
The Xbox One Mini rumor was first spotted on Gaming Bolt and was said to reduce the console to a third of its size thanks to the removal of the optical drive. That would certainly remove a bulky portion of the console, but much of the space currently consumed by the Xbox One is to ensure proper ventilation and prevent a repeat of the Xbox 360 “Red Ring of Death” caused by overheating.
The removal of the Blu-ray drive is wishful thinking at this point, however. The overwhelmingly negative reaction to the original announcement of the Xbox One as an always online console showed that the home console industry is not ready to make the jump to all digital format. Digital sales are growing, but neither Microsoft nor Sony is ready to cut their retail partners out of the loop this generation.
An Xbox One Slim is inevitable, however. Console refreshes are standard industry practice as the console matures, manufacturing processes improve, and chips are shrunk in size. There have been no corresponding rumors of a die shrink for the Xbox One APU (CPU and GPU) though, which means we are unlikely to see a slim console in 2015.
Interestingly, a patent filing from Nintendo sparked a similar rumor about either the upcoming Nintendo NX platform or current Wii U console just before the Xbox One Mini rumor dropped. The patent reveals a console without an optical disk drive and the ability to run games from an internal or external hard drive as well as memory cards.
Again, it’s difficult to discern if this patent applies to Nintendo’s next console or its currently struggling one, but it shows that at least one major console manufacturer is considering breaking from the traditional physical retail model.
Do you think consoles should begin moving to an all-digital model this generation or wait until next generation? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images via Xbox]