Have you wondered if you can get a digital copy of a game you already own on the Xbox? I was intrigued, so I researched the internet trying to answer this question.
Having a physical game does not give you a free right to a digital copy, as this would be highly exploitable as you could buy a game, download it then immediately sell the game for a discount. But you can use the same save data from the physical game if you buy a digital version.
I know it’s annoying but it wouldn’t make sense for game publishers to give you a free digital version like with Blue-ray discs just because you bought physical, I will explain the reasons why below.
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Why You Do Not Get A Free Digitial Copy Of Physical Games
I’ve spoken about the advantages and disadvantages of physical games and which one you should buy here, but for Microsoft free digital games included with the disc makes no business sense.
Game Companies Would Make A Lot Less Money
A physical game is not attached to any account so if every physical game resulted in a digital copy, all you need to do is purchase the game and then either give it to someone else or sell it/ get a refund on the game! Microsoft is not in the business of giving away their software for free!
There would be no incentive for anyone to buy Microsoft store games if you always got free games with a physical copy, Microsoft would lose money in-game sales.
In the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019, Microsoft’s gaming revenue reached almost 11.39 billion U.S. dollars! This includes subscription services like the best deal in gaming Xbox Game Pass! Choose from literally 100s of fantastic games all for a Netflix like subscription service, never buy a game again!
I am not kidding it is like PS Now but on STEROIDS!
Remember that video game companies do not make money off hardware sales, most of their money comes from software like Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass. If you need some Xbox Live, get it straight for Microsoft at the best price here.
For every $60 game sold both Microsoft and Sony make only make around $7 in platform royalties and $27 in publishing fees for first-party games, way less than subscription services which is why Microsoft is focused on making Game Pass the best it can be since they already own the games why buy more selling it physical?
Hardware costs the most and despite Microsoft selling the Xbox One on release for $500 Microsoft still was making a loss! Don’t believe me? In this business insider interview Mr. Xbox himself Phil Spencer said the following.
“No,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer told me in an interview this week, after I asked him if Microsoft makes any money selling the Xbox One X at $500.Ben Gilbert
Looking to buy a PS4 Pro in the near future? Check out my head to head of the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro in my post here.
Nintendos hardware costs are even more shocking with the Nintendo Joy-cons costing $45 each to produce! Read more about why Joy-cons are so expensive here, but I bet you thought video game companies MADE money with hardware huh?
Why Blue-Ray And Video Games Are Different
With Blue-ray if you buy a physical copy of a disc you can get a digital code that allows you to get a digital copy, so why don’t video games get the same treatment?
The differences are Blue-Rays are not sold with specific hardware or platforms in mind like games, many different systems can play Blue-ray like the Xbox One, so movie companies have an incentive to get people to buy digital as it is more profitable.
To find out if the Xbox One can play 4K DVD movies? See my post here
With games what is new is hot, unlike movies not many people will play old games, as new games are the most expensive since they have the largest demand.
Physical Xbox games are still selling very well so Microsoft doesn’t have any incentive to change their business model like giving free digital games with physical purchases, unlike Movie companies to encourage people to buy physical movies.
The Physical Movie Market Is Very Weak
Unlike 20 years were even in 2005 95 million Americans still owned VHS VCRs the physical movie market is on its last legs. It is a lot easier to torrent or streams a movie/TV show online compared to torrenting games, so buying a game digitally doesn’t scream value.
The market exists for collectors who love owning physical discs of their favorite movies, so adding the free digital movie incentive makes sense as it seems like your getting more value.
Games are different if Microsoft offered a digital download code whilst collectors would keep the game copies, everyone else would sell them on the used market. This would devalue the used game market, as you could just download and then sell your copy.
PlayStation and Xbox games do not tend to hold that much money, they get cheap very quickly. The exception is Nintendo, Nintendo first-party copies still hold amazing value and the reasons are quite interesting. if you want to know why please check my article here.
All game companies don’t like the used market and but if they take anti-consumer measures and tried to make games tied to one console like
Microsoft tried to do with the Xbox one, this would be very anti-consumer which could cause people to stop buying their products altogether; very bad for business.
To see the truly interesting story of why the Xbox One failed, please check my post here. If Microsoft connected discs to accounts and allowed one free download with per disc purchased, this will devalue the used game market with tons of games, Sony would lose too much money with this model.
Can You Download A Game If You Have The Xbox One Disc?
You can download a physical game to your Xbox One, but you still need the disc to play it.
I know it sucks, but if you didn’t need the disc to play it but then what is stopping everyone from buying games, download them onto our Xbox’s and then running over to eBay?
- Insert game into Xbox
- Your game will stop installing into your Xbox One! You will see the progress on the menu, and if it needs any updates
Can You Redownload Digital Xbox One games?
After you download a digital Xbox One game, you can redownload the game as many times as you want, if you have a game save file either in the cloud or the system your progress will be saved ready for when you redownload the game.
To see more information check out the official Xbox Live usage rules here.
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