Chinese electronics blog WPDang is reporting that Microsoft plans to unveil a whole pile of electronics in October, including some new Lumia phones, a new Surface, and a refresh of their Band fitness wearable.
Alongside all of this is one more surprising element: an Xbox One Mini. The device, WPDang says, will be the same power as an Xbox One, but it’ll lack the Blu-ray drive, meaning all content has to be delivered digitally. The removal of the drive as well as improvements to manufacturing would also make it a third of the size of the original Xbox One.
Could an Xbox One Mini be in the works? Let’s take this apart.
Parts of this rumor have been confirmed by The Verge. The mobile and wearable elements, according to The Verge‘s Tom Warren, will be unveiled at the rumored event, though he says that the Xbox One Mini is unlikely to be present.
There are lots of good reasons Microsoft would want to release a refresh of the Xbox One. The system is struggling in comparison to its main competitor, the PlayStation 4. It’s behind in North America and the U.K., and it’s just getting toasted everywhere else, where Sony’s system apparently has a 70 – 90 percent market share. Console refreshes, like we saw with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and their slimmer incarnations, can reinvigorate sales of a system.
The choice to drop the Blu-ray drive makes sense in a way. Digital delivery of games and media is growing rapidly and the methods of delivery are constantly improving. With Steam Machines hitting in November, a 2015 release would put the Xbox One Mini head to head with Valve’s device, but with a much more mainstream name attached.
The size of the system has also been a constant complaint from gamers, as well, and Microsoft has started to get really good at addressing fan requests since Phil Spencer took over.
But I don’t think the Xbox One Mini is happening right now.
I am absolutely sure that Microsoft is working on a slimmer Xbox One. I’d even wager it’s been in planning stages since very early in the Xbox One’s lifecycle, but a few things don’t add up about this for me.
Most of the problems I have with the rumor stem from timing.
In the past, Microsoft has announced every Xbox refresh at E3. The original console usually gets its own event, but the refreshes are part of Microsoft’s E3 show. They announced a bunch of stuff at gamescom earlier this month as well, and that would’ve been a good time as well – especially with the system’s struggles in the European market.
The Xbox One just saw a refresh as well, getting a 1TB hard drive and a revised controller. An Xbox One Mini seems like something that would directly undercut that, and likely the two would’ve been combined into one piece of hardware. There are also tons of special edition Xbox Ones coming out, and releasing a new version of the system alongside them seems like a way to ensure those custom systems – with pretty short shelf lives! – stay on the shelves and end up selling at cut-rate prices.
The system wouldn’t solve the two biggest concerns gamers have with the current Xbox One, either. The biggest problems are the system’s horsepower, which is something we’re likely stuck with for the long haul, and its price. The system came out at a way-too-expensive price point of $499 and has ended up having to drop down to $349 to compete. A change like this would ratchet the price back up while leaving the hardware gap in place.
Finally, I think a discless Xbox One would be confusing to consumers right now. The digital side of game sales is still growing, and especially when it comes to gift-giving, things are plenty confusing. Having all these Xbox One discs on shelves – along with boxes or cards for game codes – would be intimidating to consumers and result in a lot of frustration.
Like I said, I think a slimmer Xbox One is in the works. I do think it’ll come before a revision of the PlayStation 4. There are plenty of good reasons for one, as I listed above. But the timing of this just doesn’t sound right. If Microsoft does unveil an Xbox One Mini in October, I’ll probably be first in line. But I don’t think it’s happening.