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Microsoft Patent Licenses Physical Games for Digital Devices

May 10, 2022

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

A new Microsoft Patent has been filed which would allow owners of discless consoles like the Xbox Series S to validate a game license for a physical game disc -- a move that could significantly expand backwards compatibility.

The Xbox Series S is an attractive option for gamers on a budget. Although it has lower specs than its beefier brother the Xbox Series X, it can play most digital games without too much trouble. Physical games are a different story, however -- the Xbox Series S lacks a disc drive. That problem may soon be solved based on details in a new patent filed by Microsoft.

 

Microsoft Patent Physical Game Licensing Digital Consoles slice
(Image Credit: Game Rant)

How the New Microsoft Patent Would Change Game Licensing

As Game Rant reports (via ResetEra), a new Microsoft Patent has been filed with could change the way game licensing works on discless game consoles like the Xbox Series S.

The patent in question is "Software Ownership Validation Of Optical Discs Using Secondary Device" (20220134235 17/087264) and it presents some interesting solutions to the problems brought on by devices lacking a disc drive. The patent abstract makes for a fairly solid summary of what Microsoft is proposing with this patent application:

 
 

In aspects, a user may request access to electronic content using a first device. In response to the request, a local network comprising the first device may be queried to identify a second device having access to the electronic content. For example, the second device may comprise an optical disc comprising the electronic content. Upon identifying the second device, the second device may be queried to determine whether the second device is able to validate the user's ownership of the electronic content. If the second device is able to validate the user's ownership of the electronic content, the first device is provided access to the electronic content.

Putting this into practical terms, you could put a physical Xbox game into a disc drive on a physical device on your network. From there, you would gain access to that game on a discless console or device.

Game Rant's reporting highlights an important point, though -- this patent does not specify whether or not a license would be temporary or permanent. This would certainly work as a short-term solution, but it would still depend on a gamer owning a physical disc drive. This new patent could pave the way for some kind of license-transfer system through retailers. What's a little more likely, though, is Microsoft creating an external disc drive (or allowing the use of third-party external disc drives) to grant access to physical Xbox games on an Xbox Series S or any other authorized devices.

 
 

This new Microsoft patent is certainly quite interesting, though we should keep in mind that it is only a patent application. It still needs to pass the approval process; after that, Microsoft will likely find ways to leverage this new technology in some pretty interesting ways.