MICROSOFT has revealed its new “all digital” Xbox One S.
It is slightly cheaper than a normal Xbox, but can’t play games from discs you buy in shops.
You can pre-order it now, and it will be released on May 7.
The device, called the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will cost £199.99 at launch — £50 cheaper than the list price for the regular model.
The normal Xbox One S is rarely sold at full price though.
Currently, the Microsoft store is selling them for £229, bundled with one game, with packages including The Division 2, Battlefield V, Anthem and Fortnite on offer.
While you can’t buy Forza Horizon 3 on its own any more, the other two are available at knock-down prices — Sea of Thieves is available for £24.99 and Minecraft for £16.74.
All three games are also available through Microsoft’s Game Pass service, as is Forza Horizon 4.
That costs £7.99 a month, though your first three months are just £1 each.
Because it doesn’t have a disc drive, if you want to play games on it you’ll have to either buy them through Microsoft’s store, or subscribe to a service such as Game Pass or EA’s Origin Access service.
This means you won’t be able to resell games once you’re done with them or if you decided to sell the whole console, or take advantage of retailer discounts.
These differences can be quite stark too.
If you want to play The Division 2 on Xbox, you can get a physical copy from Amazon UK for £37.01 — while you’ll pay £47.99 for it from Microsoft’s digital store even with a temporary 20 per cent discount for the spring sale.
It does go the other way occasionally too — you can get a download code for Gears of War 4 for just £2.99 from CDKeys, while a new physical copy will cost you around £18 new or around £10 used.
Game Pass does include all first-party Xbox games, such as Crackdown 3 or Forza Horizon 4, on the day they come out, while games from other publishers are showing up on the Netflix-like service increasingly speedily.
And that could add up into a significant saving for some families, according to Andy Robertson, family gaming expert and author of the upcoming Taming Gaming book for parents.
“For families, the combination of a cheap digital-only Xbox and the Game Pass is good value,” Robertson says.
“It also means that the costs of gaming are predictable throughout the year and can be better planned. The hand-picked range of games on offer makes it easier for parents to play more of a role in picking games for children. Families that I work with who have gone this route have ended up playing a more diverse range of games, rather than investing in one high-price title.”
The announcement tallies up with rumours from March about the new device, which suggested it would be release in May and cost $250 in the US.
According to Microsoft insider site Thurrott, Microsoft’s plan for the console is to use it to cut the PlayStation’s lead this generation by aggressively cutting the costs of getting into Xbox before totally new consoles arrive in 2020.
It was rumoured that a disc-to-digital trade-in service that would allow Xbox fans to get digital download codes for games they already own and ditch the physical copies was going to be revealed alongside the console, but there is no sign of this yet.
The report suggest that Microsoft’s focus on both devices is to get the cost down as much as possible “without sacrificing the core gaming experience”, but it is unclear which corners may be cut to try and bring the costs down.
MOST READ IN GAMING
Gamers will have to wait until 2020 for an Xbox Two (or whatever the follow-up to the Xbox One family is called), though that is widely expected to come in two flavours too, one of which will also lack an optical drive.
The new device “family”, codenamed Scarlett, has been in the works for some time.
Microsoft confirmed at E3 2018 it was working on traditional next-gen hardware as well as a new game-streaming platform, which has since been revealed as Project xCloud.
Sony, meanwhile, has revealed the first details about the PlayStation 5.
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