Microsoft could bring back digital game sharing and more in a future software update to its Xbox One console.
At least that’s the impression that Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer gave during an interview at this year’s Game Developers Conference.
Talking to GameSpot, Spencer repeatedly noted that the company was actively thinking about how digital games fit into its ecosystem saying, “On the digital space, and the things that we’ve talked about, what that opens up… like we understand what games you own and who you are and how you move around and who you might want to loan rights to your games or gift games to.”
If what Spencer is describing sounds familiar it’s because Microsoft had originally planned for the Xbox One and new Xbox Live service to allow users to build digital libraries that they could then share with their friends and family. The thought process back then was that enabling this would kill one of the biggest pain points for digital games, that is today digital game buyers can’t really share their titles with other users. Disc based games don’t have that same issue.
Microsoft went on to later scrap those features after customers revolted because the Xbox One would have needed to be connected to the internet every twenty-four hours to validate user’s games. That’s something Spencer feels the company got right initially saying, “I think some of what we were trying to say last summer was right.”
So when can users expect digital games sharing or whatever digital games features Microsoft hopes will “delight users?” That much is very unclear at the moment. Spencer does note that Microsoft is “fully heads down on thinking about and building out the future of our digital marketplace to enable what people would expect.” He doesn’t go into exact timing or even allude to the feature specifically making a comeback, however if the company was to reintroduce game sharing it’s likely that they’d wait until this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 to reveal it. Comments made by Spencer during the Game Developer Conference indicate Microsoft has already stuffed its planned press event with announcements.
Typically console announcements made during E3 debut the following fall. Microsoft’s Xbox One is available online and at local retailers for $499.