Plug. Play.

Xbox bundles have ditched redemption codes for included games

Now you can choose to redeem games during the setup process.

luza studios/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

Microsoft is making it a bit easier to redeem games included with a new Xbox bundle. Instead of including codes in the package, which would then need to be painstakingly entered, users will now be able to claim bundled games during the initial setup process. The change applies to bundles of existing gen consoles and to the inevitable ones that will be available with the next-gen Xbox due out at the end of this year.

Easier than codes, but — The new program is called Digital Direct, and Microsoft says any bundled games and exclusive content will be tied to your Microsoft account once redeemed. This will save time and trouble, but some gamers will dislike this change because it will be harder to give a game to one of your friends if you don't want it. One way of giving the game to someone else would be having them sign into their account from your new Xbox and redeeming the game themselves. You don't have to redeem a game during setup under the new arrangement — there's an option to "Decide later" and redeem the game from your account settings.


Ownership vs. access — The change will also be disliked by anyone who prefers owning their games and deciding how to use them. Whereas in the past you might have received a physical copy of a game that you could do with whatever you'd like, now you've tethered to the whims of Microsoft and whatever it allows you to do with your game. You don't really own it, you're just getting access to it. Which is the same concern that fans of physical media raise against streaming services like Netflix or Spotify.

It could be worse, though. Microsoft could preload the games on your new console so there's absolutely no way to transfer it to someone else at all. But it's still certainly a step back for proponents of more obvious and irrefutable forms of ownership. Maybe criticism of the change on Reddit will encourage Microsoft to adjust Digital Direct... but we wouldn't go holding your breath. It's taken long enough for this change to happen, so expecting Microsoft to backtrack on it anytime soon is foolhardy.

Convenient for most — For most users outside those who pick up bundles because of discounts, the move is likely to be a blessing, reducing the time between unboxing a new console and getting to work playing the bundled title that likely saw them spring for the bundled package rather than the console and the game separately in the first place.

Bundled games can be redeemed from the settings menu. Microsoft