RUMOR: NeXtbox Could Come Without Disc Drive
I thought something like this could happen. Months ago I was talking with friends about what the next console would do with game media and I came up with a flash card based system. Essentially, every NeXtbox will come with a portable flash card that can hold up to 1-2 games along with a large internal harddrive. Larger flash cards would be available for those that desire it. This means that the NeXtbox would be a digital console relying on downloads from Xbox Live for the games.
One of the biggest struggles with switching to an online-only marketplace is alienating consumers that either lack an internet connection or lack a connection strong enough to download the extremely large game files. This would be combatted with "Xbox Kiosks" similar to the redbox kiosks you see at superstores. At a kiosk you would simply insert your portable flash card and purchase a game to copy over. You would then take your flash card home and copy the game file over onto your internal harddrive. OR you could leave the game file on your flash card and bring it over to a friends console for some gaming action.
This method would allow the portability that we've become accustom to with the control of a digital marketplace. There have been rumors that the NeXtbox would not be able to play used games and switching to the above system would singlehandedly wipe out the used game market but still be able to retain the illusion of owning your content since it is portable and not locked onto your console. The only question is, when the used market is gone and everything is digital, will we the consumer benefit? Will we see an end to online passes, since those were to "make up money lost from used game sales"? Will game prices drop since they are digital and no longer rely on manufacturing and distribution?
Only time will tell. This is just a current rumor with my take on it, so take it with a grain of salt.