Ditching physical media 'not a strategic thing' for Xbox, says Phil Spencer

Xbox Series S
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has confirmed that Xbox will not be moving away from physical media anytime soon, despite the market trending towards digital purchases.

In an interview with Game File, Spencer addressed the notion of the future of the Xbox brand being an all-digital one, saying the company's "strategy does not hinge on people moving all-digital." He went on to state that ditching physical media is "not a strategic thing for us."

This was after Spencer admitted to consumers swaying more in the direction of digital purchases. He hinted that while Xbox will continue to support physical discs, future hardware may buck this trend: "We are supportive of physical media, but we don't have a need to drive that disproportionate to customer demand," Spencer said.

"We ship games physically and digitally," he continued, "and we're really just following what the customers are doing. And I think our job in running Xbox is to deliver on the things that a majority of the customers want. And right now, a majority of our customers are buying games digitally."

Spencer went on to explain that as less and less manufacturers are producing disc drives, in line with purchasing habits, supply and demand for them is impacted. Less suppliers inevitably means higher prices, and as a result, Spencer states that "the cost of the drive does have an impact" when it comes to designing new hardware.

Spencer of course doesn't say as much, but while the likes of Sony and Microsoft may continue to support physical media for the immediate future, it probably won't be the case forever. We're already seeing this with the revised PS5 Slim, which offers the option for a detachable disc drive as a separate purchase. Plus, Microsoft's own Xbox Series S is an all-digital console, and is thus far the only model of its current-generation hardware to receive a revision in the form of a 1TB upgrade.

An all-digital future is likely all but inevitable, then, especially considering the rise of cloud gaming platforms and subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. But at least for now, those who prefer physical media can rest assured that the format isn't going anywhere just yet.

For top recommendations on Xbox hardware, consider checking out our in-depth guides to the best Xbox controllers and the best Xbox hard drive and SSDs.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.