Microsoft today unveiled the new Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, confirming rumors of the long-awaited console without a disc drive.
The $250 console — $50 less than other Xbox One S models — is geared toward gamers who prefer to download games digitally rather than buy physical discs. The new console is another example of Microsoft shifting’s gaming strategy to focus on reaching more gamers on a variety of devices and a greater emphasis on cloud-based gaming.
Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will go on sale starting May 7 and come bundled with Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3 and Sea of Thieves. Microsoft painted the new device as the most affordable way to play Xbox games and guaranteed that it will remain less expensive than other consoles even as prices fluctuate.
Microsoft today also announced plans to combine Xbox Live Gold membership with Xbox Game Pass, the company’s rotating catalog of 100 games that users can download. The $15 per month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will roll out later this year.
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Microsoft might have another new console up its sleeve. A second rumored Microsoft project, “Scarlett Cloud” is designed to work with Microsoft’s planned game streaming service. There’s a chance it could be unveiled at the big E3 gaming conference, where Microsoft promised its biggest presence yet.
The all-digital console feels like a bridge to the company’s grander vision where users can play Xbox games on any number of devices. It has taken other steps to get there, including expanding Xbox Live to Android and iOS devices.
The shift will really kick into high gear later this year when the ambitious Project xCloud begins public trials later this year. Microsoft will look to leverage its cloud presence by making it possible for people to play high-powered Xbox games on smartphones.
The news of the new Xbox console comes as rival Sony pulled back the curtain on plans for its next-generation console. The new model won’t arrive this year, and it will feature ray-tracing capability that provides a greater degree of visual realism and ship with a solid-state drive to make it easier to seamlessly load big-budget, open-world games.