Microsoft have applied for a patent that, while not a perfect solution for every gripe you may have with modern consoles and digital ownership, may nevertheless be a great step forward for anyone who has a catalogue of games they own on disc, but have bought (or are thinking of buying) a digital-only console.
The patent, first spotted by Gamerant, is called Software Ownership Validation Of Optical Discs Using Secondary Device. While it goes into a lot of detail about why it’s being applied for and how it works, it basically boils down users being able to insert a disc into a console that has both a disc drive and an internet connection, using that internet connection to validate the user’s ownership of the disc, then allowing the same user to download the digital version of the same game on a second, digital-only console for free.
Here’s Microsoft’s pitch for the application, which recognises “the ‘feel’ of handling the physical video game media and/or the nostalgia associated with the physical video game media”:
In recent years, a trend towards producing and consuming digital video game content has developed. As a result of this trend, many people now prefer digital video game content over physical video game media. Accordingly, many next generation video game devices being developed are configured without hardware components for playing physical video game media. Consequently, when an owner of a previous generation video game device purchases a next generation video game device, the owner is unable to play their physical video game media on the next generation video game device. Instead, the owner must repurchase the digital version of the video game content for the next generation video game device. This scenario is undesirable for multiple reasons.
First, video game content (physical and digital) represents a significant financial investment to some people. Although the digital version of the video game content for the next generation video game device may provide additional content and/or significant technological improvements, it may be difficult for some people to justify repurchasing a video game they already own and have already played or completed. Second, many owners of physical video game media have emotional attachments to their physical video game media. These owners simply appreciate the “feel” of handling the physical video game media and/or the nostalgia associated with the physical video game media. Moreover, many of these owners view their libraries of physical video game media and paraphernalia as valuable collections, similarly to rare coins collections, baseball cards collections, etc.
And it would work like this:
To address such challenges with playing previous generation physical video game media on next generation digital video game devices, the present disclosure describes systems and methods for providing software ownership validation of optical discs using secondary devices. In aspects, a local network may comprise at least a first and second device. For instance, the first and second device may be connected to a local area network (LAN) that is accessible by one or more users. Alternately, the first and second device may not be connected to the same local network. For instance, the first device may be connected to a first local network and the second device may be connected to a second local network. The first and second device may communicate using the Internet or a distributed network system. The first and second device may be accessible via a common user account, separate user accounts of a common user, or separate user accounts of separate users...
...Physical media, such as an optical disc, may be inserted into the optical disc drive of the second device. The second device may be authorized to access electronic content, such as video game content, on the physical media. The second device may also be configured with a selectable setting or option that enables the second device to validate user ownership of the electronic content on the physical media. For example, when the setting or option is enabled, the second device may be able to verify to a separate device, such as the first device, that a specific user or user account possesses ownership of the electronic content on the physical media.
The application was made in November 2020, which hey would you look at that, was the exact same month the Xbox Series S, a digital-only Xbox console, was released.