Microsoft files a patent for a method of externally validating ownership of game discs, which could let Xbox Series S players access physical games.
This current trend for online connection requirements and digital games was first forecasted by Microsoft at the Xbox reveal for the Xbox One back in 2013, where the reaction was so overwhelmingly negative that Microsoft backtracked on many of the features announced for the Xbox One. However, over time many of these features have since crept into the home consoles.
Digital games have now become so prevalent that both Xbox and PlayStation’s next-gen consoles have versions without disc drives. These digital-only options are cheaper but do leave some players with a few worries. However, Microsoft has now filed a patent for a system which may eliminate one of these worries for Xbox Series S buyers. The patent describes a system that allows an external disc drive to authenticate an Xbox game and allow the player access to the digital version of that game through the Xbox Series S Games Store.
A system like this would benefit players that feared any Xbox One discs they owned would become useless after purchasing an Xbox Series S, whereas on Xbox Series X they could have played every non-Kinect Xbox One game. This is a huge element of backwards compatibility to miss out on for players that are upgrading to next-gen after exclusively purchasing physical games for the Xbox One. It would also help any Xbox Series S players that received a physical game as a gift from friends or family who don’t understand that the disc is not compatible, even if it’s for the right system.
It is unknown whether the patent would allow players to redeem a digital version of the game to add permanently to their digital library, or whether the patent would simply be the basis for an external disc drive Xbox Series S players could purchase if they wanted to play backwards compatible Xbox One games. It would seem unlikely that players would be allowed to duplicate their copy of a game if there were any chance the disc could then be sold and duplicated again, though perhaps the patent could identify whether the disc had been validated before like with the codes for redeeming digital games through the Xbox Games Store.
The patent description also seems to suggest that an Xbox One could be linked with the Xbox Series S and used as the external disk drive for authenticating the game, but whether they could be linked wirelessly or would require a connection is unclear.