One of the biggest contentions amongst console gamers these days is the digital media versus physical media argument. I have a 50 MB connection and I do not trade in games, so what do I need a physical optical drive for? Other people might have a slower connection and not have as much money so they actually need the ability to trade in games and have that physical disc in their hands. Other people just like the idea of having something tangible to get their hands on.
A big rumor that was floating around a few months ago was that the new console coming form Sony codenamed "Orbis" would not include an optical disc drive. This set off a storm of hate towards Sony form the two crowds of need and prefer it. I loved the idea personally. Well as it turns out, those rumors weren't very far from the truth. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that considered but ultimately rejected a download-only plan for its next videogame console. The rumor floating around now is that they will instead offer same day downloads of every single game. So best of both worlds actually, but that also means that the "Orbis" will have to include a massive HDD likely in the range of 1-1.5Tb.
The WSJ's source said that "Sony decided against a download-only model largely because Internet connections are too inconsistent around the world. Because game files are large, customers in countries where Internet connections are relatively slow would be hobbled by a requirement to download games, the person said."
Gamestop must be taking a huge breath right now because they have dodged a huge bullet. "If we all agree the technology is inevitable—which I think it is because it's like death and taxes—it's still going to take longer to happen than it did for music and movies," said GameStop CEO Paul Raines. But that is also a man fighting for his company. I would bet my arm that the next gen console will be download only or be a Steam like service that offers no physical media at all.