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Discless Xbox One S 'all-digital' version ready for preorder in April, report says

Microsoft and Sony have considered building an all-digital Xbox and PlayStation for years. Now it might be happening.

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The current Xbox One S video game console has a disc drive built in. A new version may not.

Tania Gonzalez/CNET

Microsoft's next iteration of the Xbox One may not have a disc at all, and it might be coming sooner than you think.

That's at least according to rumors from Windows Central, which says a discless Xbox One S "All-Digital Edition" will be offered for preorders in April. The new device, said to be code-named Maverick, will offer a "disc-to-digital" program, letting fans turn in physical game discs and convert them to digital downloads, Windows Central added.

One benefit of this new Xbox, Windows Central said, would be that it could push the price of an Xbox down. The Xbox One S starts at $299 and is typically bundled with a game. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

The move could mark a turning point for the video game industry, which has sold video games on discs and cartridges for decades. Some people still prefer to buy physical copies of their games, in part to share them with friends or trade them in at retailers like GameStop.

Industry mainstays like Microsoft and Sony's PlayStation group have considered dumping disc drives for their consoles in the past. 

Sony, for example, debated removing discs from its PlayStation 4 console before the gadget's launch in 2013. But the company ultimately kept them, in part because internet connections for people in some developing countries and at military bases aren't reliable enough to support the many gigabytes of data required for a full game download. The company has also created streaming options, such as PlayStation Now, which let people play games over the internet in a way that's similar to how they can watch movies from Netflix. 

In an interview earlier this year, however, PlayStation's chairman of worldwide studios, Shawn Layden, said the company is mindful that not everyone has good enough internet connections to rely on digital-only services yet.

"If you're PlayStation and you're available in 168 countries around the world, streaming will be a thing which will have interest to certain people in certain places," he said. "We can leave no gamer behind."

Microsoft for its part has also considered a digital-only version of its Xbox before. Half a decade ago, the company was experimenting with a set-top box, as well as other Xbox designs, all to broaden the types of video game consoles it sells. 

These days, however, Microsoft has signaled it's more willing to move gaming to the internet. Last June, the company said it's building a streaming game service to compete with Sony, Electronic Arts and others. Microsoft also said it's building a next-generation video game console, though it didn't say when the device would launch.

Originally published March 5, 11:28 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:01 p.m.: Adds that Microsoft declined to comment.