Game file sizes proved too high for Microsoft
In the what-if scenario of the day, Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer tells OXM that the company considered making the Xbox One a "purely disc-less console." Another forward-looking idea for the system that didn't pan out, then. Probably for the best.
"There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues," he commented. "So we decided -- which I think was the right decision -- to go with the Blu-ray drive and give the people an easy way to install a lot of content. From some of those original thoughts, you saw a lot of us really focusing on the digital ecosystem you see on other devices -- thinking of and building around that."
Even as someone who doesn't feel too strongly one way or the other about owning physical copies of media, I think the lack of a disc drive in the Xbox One would've been a scary step forward for many consumers. We're just not ready for it. Game consoles largely aren't ready for it, either.