On March 19, the website vgleaks.com posted screenshots of what it claims is the software development kit for the next-generation Microsoft gaming console, code-named Durango. The shots, which were reported by Edge Magazine as "entirely legitimate" revealed that the system will install games directly to its hard drive, and will not support play from its optical disc.
According to Forbes, disabling optical disc play will kill the market for used games and possibly require the new console to come with up to a terrabyte of hard drive space.
Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation about its products, but the significance of the system's alleged design was not lost on Reddit. User GideonJWells compared the tentative hard-drive install to rights-management strategies used by PC game publishers in the late '90s and early '00s, whereby the optical disc gradually became "just an install medium."
"If they can get console users used to this, [like] PC [gamers] already are, then it means they are one step closer to doing away with physical mediums and pushing for making the X-Box [sic] digital only," wrote GideonJWells.
Other features indicated by the documents include a Kinect sensor that is "required for the system to operate," and the use of an "always on, always connected" design.
Last month, Edge Magazine reported that continuous connectivity could be leveraged as digital rights management to block used games.
Such DRM strategies have proved unpopular with gamers in the past. In 2012 publisher Ubisoft retracted its always-online DRM after receiving negative feedback from users. More recently, the colossal headaches caused by EA's launch of "SimCity" were blamed on the game's requirement to maintain a connection to faulty servers.