Little is known about the next generation of gaming consoles at this point, with Sony and Microsoft notorious for keeping their cards close to their chests.
Both the Xbox and PlayStation are due upgrades, however, and the technology giants could be looking to release new models as soon as 2019. One of the most exciting pieces of news is the fact that Microsoft may be working on a disc-less console, which could bring about major changes in the gaming market.
Recent reports from Thurrott suggest that Microsoft is planning to move away from discs for its consoles to lower the price point of the hardware and make it more affordable. Players who have a large collection of discs will be able to exchange them for the digital download version of the game and play them on the new console. This represents a massive step forward in the evolution of gaming, and discs could become outdated in the next few years. According to Statista, digital sales overtook physical all the way back in 2013. And last year, a whopping 79 percent of video game sales in the US were downloads.
Some sectors of the entertainment industry have already moved towards fully integrated online platforms that don’t require software. In the iGaming sector, sites have become hubs for countless games that players can access instantly without having to download. At Sloty.com, for instance, there are hundreds of popular slot games such as Starburst and Game of Thrones, which can be accessed in a matter of seconds. However, with graphically complex and resource-intensive console offerings, it may not be possible to have instant play options like this. There are some services like PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass that allow users to stream games through the cloud, but actually doing this through the user's console would be a leap forward. The introduction of 5G internet will speed everything up, and could make previously inconceivable things a reality.
The idea behind a move towards disc-less entertainment has been made possible by Netflix, which has changed the game and made physical discs almost superfluous. The streaming service has reduced the number of people buying movies and box sets, and instead allowed them to have access to a whole library of series and films within the Netflix application. In ten years, the company founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in 1997 has gone from having seven million subscribers in the US, to 90 million people worldwide. It has led to other competing services including Amazon Prime and HBO NOW, and a lot of filmmakers are now gearing their content towards these platforms.
Many people are now wondering whether the console industry will go in the same direction as services like Netflix. It isn’t out of the question to think that physical discs could be obsolete in the near future, with downloads being the only source of obtaining new games. This could increase sales, as there would be less sharing of games between friends.