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Xbox's hardware future in question as multiple physical games seemingly cancelled

Richard Lee Breslin

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Xbox's hardware future in question as multiple physical games seemingly cancelled

Featured Image Credit: Microsoft

In the modern video gaming age, the rise of digital content is more prominent now than ever for better or worse, with each side of the digital and physical media forms offering compelling arguments.

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I think it’s no secret that publishers would much prefer consumers to purchase digital content as it not only drastically reduces production costs but it’s also a way to maximise profits by charging full price for digital media for “convenience”. It also gives publishers more control if for whatever reason, the powers that be decide to wipe that digital content from stores in an instant, including those paid-for items in our digital library.

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As for physical media, sure it might take a tiny bit of effort to swap over a disc and as a disabled man, that is most certainly a convenience. However, we own that physical content despite what anyone says, and unless we sell or lose it, that content is ours to keep forever, thus taking a lot of control away from the publisher. I can certainly see cases from both sides of the fence but I think it will be a very sad day if physical video games and movies are eradicated from production.

During an infamous E3 2013, Microsoft announced its new Xbox One console which was met with a lot of fan backlash due to its always-online requirement that would need to connect to Microsoft’s servers at least once a day for players to be able to access much of their content. It was also DRM-heavy in an attempt to tackle pre-owned game purchases and game sharing by linking a game to an account. Thankfully, Microsoft made a u-turn on those decisions but the damage was already done, at least for that console generation.

Now in the ninth console generation, publishers' desire to have control over the content we “own” is perhaps stronger than ever, such as the Ubisoft executive who recently told consumers not to get comfortable owning our games. We’ve even seen certain Collector Edition’s not come with a physical disc across both PlayStation and Xbox. So with all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that publishers may also now be attempting to dwindle out physical disc purchases in the digital age which is now more of a focus in the minds of bigwig shareholders.

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In a recent tweet from Twitter user Cheap Ass Gamer, an alleged image was shown of US retailer GameStop’s internal system. In that image were five upcoming but fairly unknown titles. Those games are Hammerwatch 2 Chronicles, Smalland Survive the Wilds, Taxi Life, Tintin Reporter Cigars and Welcome to ParadiZe. Physical copies of those gamers were set to be shipped for sale but were marked as “currently unavailable,” all of which were coming to Xbox Series X/S.

We can only speculate what this means, but many believe that it’s a shift in focus by smaller publishers to follow larger publishers by cutting out the costs of physical media production. It also follows rumours of Microsoft allegedly wanting to leave hardware behind to focus on video game publishing, so if true, it’s understandable why some publishers see no point in releasing future physical games. That being said, there have been conflicting reports on Microsoft’s alleged desire to cease production of hardware and apparently, have a new console already in the works.

Of course, all of these rumours are unconfirmed at this time, so they should be taken with a pinch of salt until proven otherwise. Xbox chief Phil Spencer has somewhat addressed recent rumours by announcing a “business update event” that will take place next week, which may even involve discussions regarding certain Xbox games being released on PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. It’s certainly an interesting time for the video game industry right now.

Topics: Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X

Richard Lee Breslin
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