Will Xbox Project Scarlett keep the disc drive? Microsoft comes clean after E3 reveal

Microsoft has confirmed the Xbox One S All-Digital does not spell the end for disc drives on its consoles. In interviews following the Xbox keynote at E3, the company confirmed the next-gen console, codenamed Project Scarlett, will indeed have an optical drive.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Matt Booty, Head of Microsoft Game Studios, said the company will continue to cater to those gamers who enjoy building a physical games collection.

Booty says: “Yes, Scarlett will have an optical disc drive. I still have films at home on physical media – not many, but a few of my favourites. We know people have an attachment to buying games on disc, to building a collection.”

Related: Xbox 2: Project Scarlett – Everything you need to know

The sentiment was echoed by Xbox head Phil Spencer who, in a post-keynote chat with GamesIndustry.biz, said despite many gamers shifting towards digital and streaming, the Xbox team remains committed to those gamers who choose physical media.

In extensive comments on the matter, Spencer said: “Yeah [physical discs are part of our future]. We know, because we see it, that more and more players are buying digital. We think the experience in certain instances, specifically if I am away from my console and everything is on my hard-drive with the entitlements are all there, there are some scenarios that are easy. But we know that people still have discs.

“So even when we put out things like the Xbox One S All-Digital edition, we are very clear with the name because I am not trying to confuse anybody, that if you are somebody that has a library of discs, or that’s the way you want to acquire the content, then you should buy the Xbox One S, not the Xbox One S All-Digital… which is why we put it in the name, and yes I know it says SAD.

“I want to be very descriptive, because I am not trying to confuse anybody about what the options are. I want to give people choice, and right now physical is a choice that millions of people love.”

Related: Xbox E3 conference

The comments come after reports next year’s Sony PS5 console will also have a disc drive. The two next-gen machines, disc drives and all, look likely to have a traditional holiday season battle in 2020.

As well as continuing to keep physical media alive (as well as actual brick and mortar game shops), Microsoft is going big on its online efforts through the Xbox Game Pass and the forthcoming xCloud streaming service, which will bring Xbox games to a multitude of devices with all the heavy lifting happening in the cloud.

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