Microsoft filed a patent which, although not a perfect solution for any gripes you may have with modern consoles and digital ownershipmay nonetheless be a big step forward for anyone with a catalog of games they own on disc but have bought (or are considering buying) a digital-only console.
The patent, first spotted by Gameris called Validating Software Ownership of Optical Discs Using a Secondary Deviceand while it explains in detail why it’s in demand and how it works, it basically boils down to users being able to insert a disc into a console that has both a disc drive and an internet connection, by using this 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 for free on a second digital-only console.
Here’s Microsoft’s pitch for the app, which acknowledges “the ‘feel’ of dealing with physical video game media and/or the nostalgia associated with physical video game media”:
In recent years, a trend of production and consumption of digital video game content has developed. Due to this trend, many people now prefer digital video game content over physical video game media. As a result, many next-generation video game devices being developed are configured without hardware components to play physical video game media. Therefore, 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 redeem the digital version of the video game content for the next-generation video game device. This scenario is undesirable for several reasons.
First, video game content (both physical and digital) is a significant financial investment for some people. Although the digital version of 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 that they already own and which they 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 enjoy the “feel” of handling physical video game media and/or the nostalgia associated with physical video game media. Additionally, many of these owners consider their libraries of physical video game media and accessories to be valuable collections, similar to rare coin collections, baseball card collections, etc.
And it would work like this:
To address these challenges of playing previous generation physical video game media on next generation digital video game devices, the present invention describes systems and methods for providing software ownership validation of optical discs to the using secondary devices. In some aspects, a local area network may include at least a first and a second device. For example, the first and the second device can be connected to a local area network (LAN) which is accessible by one or more users. Alternatively, the first and the second device may not be connected to the same local network. For example, the first device may be connected to a first local area network and the second device may be connected to a second local area network. The first and second device may communicate using the Internet or a distributed network system. The first and second device can be accessed through 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, can be inserted into the second device’s optical disc drive. The second device may be authorized to access electronic content, such as video game content, on the physical medium. The second device may also be configured with a selectable parameter or option that allows the second device to validate the user’s ownership of the electronic content on the physical medium. For example, when the setting or option is enabled, the second device may be able to verify with a separate device, such as the first device, that a specific user or user account has ownership of the electronic content on the physical medium.
The app was made in November 2020, which, hey, are you looking at that, was the exact same month that the Xbox Series S, a digital-only Xbox console, came out.