Microsoft has plans for an Xbox Series S external disc drive

A new patent suggests that Microsoft is designing a system that would allow the Xbox Series S to play physical game discs. Although Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the product, the speculative system would allow owners of the digital-only console to convert their physical games into downloadable copies.

As spotted by GameRant, the patent describes a system that would validate your ownership of a physical game, before giving you access to its digital version to download online. The system would involve two devices: one that includes an optical drive capable of reading game discs and verifying your ownership; and a second that you would use to download the games.

It’s like pairing a console with an external disc drive, but with a drive that can independently connect to Xbox servers. If rolled out for the latest console generation, it would effectively allow Xbox Series S owners to run physical copies of their games through the console.

In the patent, Microsoft claims that such a system would address backward compatibility issues. Some gamers are hesitant to upgrade to the next generation of consoles because they can’t transfer their existing library of physical Xbox games to digital-only systems.

“Many next-generation video game devices in development are configured without hardware components for playing physical video game media,” the patent states.

“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,” he continues.

“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 several reasons.

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Close-up of the Xbox Series X console and controller

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Mohd Syis Zulkipli)

We can hope

The device described in the patent looks like a practical feature. Not only would this give console owners access to their catalog of Xbox titles, but it would allow them to purchase games without having to go through the official Xbox store. Physical editions of games can often be found for less than the listed price on Microsoft’s digital marketplace, so beefing up your game library with disc copies can sometimes be a more affordable route.

However, the patent leaves many details up in the air. For one thing, it’s not clear what the device described in the patent would look like. It could take the form of a traditional external disc drive that would have to be purchased separately from the main console, but it could be something else entirely. An Xbox One, for example, seems able to read optical discs and connect to Xbox servers, so seems able to perform the same function.

Finally, the patent does not specify what happens to the disc copy of a game once you verify it. It’s likely that each disc can only be authenticated once, in a bid to prevent digital piracy, although it’s unclear if it could still be used on a console that isn’t connected. to Microsoft servers.

As with all patents, nothing is confirmed. The device presented in this patent could be years before being marketed or never see the light of day.

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