Microsoft Patents a Way of Updating Physical Xbox Games to Digital for Discless Systems


While many players still have an attachment to physical media, and large collections of disc-based games gathering dust on shelves, actually playing said games is getting increasingly difficult. Many newer consoles no longer have disc drives and having to insert your disc to validate your game every time you play increasingly feels like a waste of time in this day and age. Well, it seems like Microsoft might be working on a solution to the physical media problem.

A new patent has surfaced (thanks to the folks at Game Rant) that describes a system, whereby players would validate ownership of a physical game on a system with a disc drive (including last-gen consoles), then through the internet or a local area connection, validate it on another discless system. You would then be able to either directly transfer the game’s data from the disc-enabled system to the discless one or download it from the Xbox Store/Network on the discless system. The following snippet from the Microsoft patent describes how the scheme would work between a “first system” (a newer discless console) and a “second system” (a console with a disc drive).

Windows 11 Build 22000.706 (KB5014019) Is Out for Release Preview Channel

In aspects, upon receiving validation of user ownership of the electronic content, the first device may be provided access to the electronic content. For instance, a digital version of the electronic content may be downloaded or streamed to the first device from the second device or from the external device or service. In examples, the first device's access to the electronic content may be effective while the first device and the second device are on the same local network, while the physical media comprising the electronic content is inserted into the second device, and/or while a digital version of the electronic content is available to the external device or service.

What isn’t entirely clear, is if this could be used as a straightforward “disc to digital” system. Could you simply use this procedure to transfer your physical games to digital, and put the discs in the closet? Microsoft insider Brad Sams has heard something to that effect.

The paragraph above is unclear on the “disc to digital” question, saying you might need to keep the disc in the second system while connected to a local network, but it also says the content being available on a service like the Xbox Store may be enough, hinting a simple “validate and download” system may be in play. The Microsoft patent lays out the various ways they foresee the system being useful…

Accordingly, the present disclosure provides a plurality of technical benefits including but not limited to: facilitating access to physical media on next generation devices, facilitating access to physical media on devices lacking physical media reading components, software content ownership validation using local network devices, streaming and/or downloading content from local network devices to prevent/mitigate internet fees and bandwidth issues, sharing software content ownership validation among multiple user devices, and providing options/setting for enabling software content ownership validation on one or more user devices, among other examples.

What do you think? What’s your interpretation of this patent? Does it sound intriguing to you?