Is the future of gaming disc-less? Microsoft thinks so as it launches Xbox One S All-Digital edition

Sony and Microsoft are set to go head to head all over again. Credit: AP

The next stage in the ongoing fight for gaming supremacy is looming large with major announcements about new versions of the Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

Microsoft has confirmed the latest iteration of its console will be aimed squarely at 'digital natives' - with the Xbox One S ditching discs and instead players will have to download all games from the Xbox store.

Meanwhile, Sony - the tech giant behind PlayStation - has said the next version of its console will be backwards-compatible (ie you can play old games on the new machine) and feature "8k graphics".

The Xbox One S All-Digital edition comes with three pre-loaded games. Credit: Microsoft

Jeff Gattis, general manager of platform and devices marketing at Microsoft, said of the latest Xbox: "We think of the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition as an option that caters to audiences who prefer to find and play their games digitally.

"We’re not looking to push customers toward digital; it’s about meeting the needs of customers that are digital natives that prefer digital-based media and providing value with the most affordable Xbox One console.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with Wired, Mark Cerny, Sony's lead system architect, said its much-anticipated next-gen console would still feature disc-based gaming but that gamers would be able to play old favourites on the newest system.

The new PlayStation has been in development for four years. Credit: AP

He told the magazine: "With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”

With games becoming so large, often taking an age to download the disc content (depending on internet connection speed) and gobbling up masses of hard drive space, both Microsoft and Sony are keen to exploit cloud-gaming.

So, what do we know about each upcoming release?

How do the consoles compare - and what are you likely to get for your money?

  • Xbox One S All-Digital Edition

When's it out? May 7

What's the spec? A 1TB hard drive (enough to store 20-25 games); 4K graphics

Any freebies? Comes pre-loaded with Minecraft, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 3; wireless controller, discounted subscription to Xbox Game Pass

Price: £199.99

Number of consoles sold: About 40 million Xbox One consoles sold worldwide since its launch in 2013

Spider-Man was an exclusive game for PlayStation Credit: AP
  • PlayStation '5'

When's it out? Not this year, likely 2020

What's the spec? 8K graphics and "ray-tracing technology" - Hollywood-style 3D lighting technology to make the visual experience of gaming better

Any freebies? Promises to be backwards-compatible, enabling gamers to play their old favourites on the new console

Price: n/a

Number of consoles sold: More than 90 million PS4 consoles sold worldwide since its launch in 2013