The Xbox 360’s 3-Disc Dilemma

By  |  Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

doom3Sony likes to boast that it’s selling “future technology” in the Playstation 3, but let’s be honest, most games hardly show it.

An exception could come from Doom 4, a distant release that will apparently take full advantage of the PS3’s Blu-ray discs. In a Game Informer interview (via VG247), id Software’s John Carmack said the game will “almost certainly” be split into three DVDs for the Xbox 360, while the PS3 version will only require one Blu-ray disc.

This, I think, is more important than any advantage you might see in graphics. Give me a big-screen HDTV, and I’ll generally be pretty happy no matter which console you put in front of me. Making me get up after a cliffhanger moment to swap out discs — twice — is a different story.

The Xbox 360’s inability to store everything on one disc poses other challenges if games begin demanding more storage space. Carmack said another upcoming id game, a racing and shooting adventure called Rage, will need two discs for the Xbox 360 version, but still just one for Blu-ray. It would’ve been easier to split Rage in thirds for the Xbox 360 version, Carmack said, but the game is designed around two major wastelands, so three discs wouldn’t work as well.

Now, think about non-linear games, such as Grand Theft Auto. I can’t say it would be impossible to split this kind of adventure into several discs, but it could be problematic unless each disc contained the entire game world.

On the flip side, Carmack said programming for the PS3 required much more “sweat equity” than the Xbox 360, despite its lack of size constraints. But if game developers someday embrace the roominess afforded by the PS3’s Blu-ray discs, Microsoft will find itself at a real technical disadvantage.


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14 Comments For This Post

  1. AJ Says:

    Won’t people be able to copy the games into their Xbox hard drive, making this a non-issue?

  2. Jared Newman Says:


    It’s too far off to say. You’d still need one disc in the tray for authentication. Being able to copy all three at the beginning would be nice, but still inconvenient, and a drain to your hard drive — certainly not a non-issue.

  3. What about? Says:

    Hey AJ, what about all those 360s with NO HDD?

    Makes a 3 disc install kind of tough.

  4. Ruairi Says:

    I agree with AJ, just install the other 2 discs and 1 in the drive for authentication. Problem solved. As for ppl with no HDD, I guess they can swap discs. But seriously, if you can’t afford a HDD, you cant afford to buy this game – so its a non issue.

    I want to see how this one plays out, the BD in the PS3 is extremley slow, I want to see if they are actually gonna stream from it or are they gonna just do a big install from 1 disc. If they have to resort to installing then why even bother blabbering about how good bluray is?

  5. flyphotoguy Says:

    what’s the cliffhanger moment going to be — a monster jumping out of a dark corner behind you, or one coming out of a hidden door in a wall after you pass by it… again, and again, and again!

    Don’t really see the big deal — this was bound to happen eventually, just like when we shifted from CD-ROM to DVD: and it’s not exactly happening tomorrow.

    I hope this Doom has some more innovation going for it when it hits…

  6. Orion Says:

    Is getting and moving 5 feet really going to kill your fat ass?

  7. lv20066 Says:

    Yep, 2-disc Resident Evil 5 on the GC was RUINED because of the disc-swap!

  8. Tim Conneally Says:

    Hopefully it won’t be fashioned like Metal Gear Solid 4 which required very long and annoying installs after every level (and accompanying half hour long cutscene.)

  9. Bryan Says:

    Yep, welcome to the conversation. I’ve been saying this for years. Bluray for gaming is something no one talks about but is the big reason it WILL matter. That’s the reason Heavenly Sword isn’t an XBOX360 game…the HD audio 7.1 soundtrack alone was 11GB. And for those that say you could just load it all onto a hard drive, sure it’s possible if you have a bigger hard drive, but how easy is it to keep upgrading your hard drive for all the content? The PS3 makes it easy. I have a 500GB 2.5 sata in mine. Is it so easy for xbox? In the end, Bluray for gaming is the biggest reason PS3 will (very soon) be leapfrogging over Microsoft.

  10. Mike Says:

    I just wanted to comment on the PS3 BlueRay versus 360.
    As pretty much mentioned; games can be copied to the 360 harddrive. Yes you will have to keep disc one, two, or three in the drive for authentication. They have been doing this for many years on multi-disc games on PC. And unless I have heard this incorrectly, Microsoft is doing away with the Non-Harddrive 360s. So it should really not be an issue and maybe be a plus for 360 owners being able to play from the harddrive should actually provide a better overall gaming experience than on the PS3.

  11. Jason Says:

    The HDD solves this problem except for the fact that the XBox 360 is constrained in this area. If these kind of games become the norm, maybe we’ll see more flexible options for the HDD. Why is there virtually no way to get an ordinary affordable 500 gig hard drive on my XBox? Why is 120 gigs the magic number? 120 gigs was the standard for computers 5 years ago.

  12. Raman Says:


    the xbox arcade is the best selling xbox. Microsoft is thinking of discontinuing the regular model and having only the Elite. This means fewer xboxes with harddrives.

  13. MCSE Says:

    Dude, are you guys kidding me? Copying two maybe three dvds to play a game. 500 gigs will not be enough trust me. With all the other content that is saved to the harddrive. I just purchase a 360/60GB last year and the drive is already full from just playing games, save check points and other game content. Just imagine copying 20-30 gig to play a game then saving all the extra’s per game. 500 gig will not last long i can tell you that right now. Microsoft screwed up on this one big time and future sale will prove that. with that being said folks will start looking at the ps3 and walking by the 360.

    The bad economy really screwed things for both microsoft and sony. But it seems that sony may end up getting the last laugh after all. Sony price point is keeping microsoft from releasing a new system. How so you may ask. R&D cost that’s how. Microosoft will have to charge more or the same price for the New system and that will cost them a crap load of money in the end. But will add money to sony pocket and prove sony’s arguement.

    As for downloads, Not everybody who purchase a console have internet so that kills that theory. Plus Providers are putting a 5 gig download limit on folks. Just imaging if you will, you are playing a game and the system stops because you ran out of disk space. Hmm remind you of anything aka blue screen of death (BOD). You now have to a:) purchase another harddrive either usb or replace the internal or b:) delete content that you may want to use later either way it sucks. Coping it to the harddrive is an option but it is not the best solution nor will user want to wait to copy 20-30 gigs to the hard just to play a game. Hell ps3 owners complain now about game install. Can you just imagine what the mass of 360 folks will say if they have to copy 2 entire dvds before they can play a game on a 360. Game stop will have a huge inventory of used 360 to sell that is for sure.

    I’ve been an Microsoft Certified System Engineer for 15 years so i am a strong supporter of microsoft. But they really screwed up with the 360. Sony got it right, Blue Ray- HDMI, Optical for surroundsound so you can purchase a $300 receiver that doesn’t support sound over hdmi. Receivers that do support surround sound over HDMI will cost you about $500 big ones. Microsoft made so many mistake with the 360 just like they did with Vista.

  14. Brainiacxiii Says:

    ps3 doesn’t download content to the harddrive from the disks because of blue-rays speed. That makes no sense. They harddrive load games because it takes less time to read from the drive than the disk on ANY disk. Thats why ps3/360 games load faster, textures etc. on the ps3. Blue ray was obviously the choice for a next gen system but the 360 was xbox 1.5 anyhow.
    One of the greatest games ever, MGS, required multiple disk changes. It didn’t bother me. Many FF titles requires 2 or 3 disk changes. The reason itis an issue is for large scale sandbox games. Do I have to change disks when I go to china town? Harddrive loading multidisk 360 games wont work. The xbox harddrives are too small to be devoting so much space to one title. You’d have to delete local data from one gameto install the next. ps3’s hdd is swappable is 5 seconds. 360 harddrive had about 8 screws and a jigsaw puzzle