Don’t share your digital games with your friend’s Xbox.
You may have seen tips on how to share your Xbox One digital games with your friends. But Microsoft doesn’t intend for you to share your game library when you’re not there. Doing so puts you at risk.
A brief history of the promises of Xbox One
When Microsoft first announced the Xbox One, it came with the promise of next-gen features and would require a dedicated internet connection that would allow the console to call home every 24 hours. In return, Microsoft promised that you could play games without inserting the disc (after the first time) and share your digital game library with friends.
The 24-hour check-in was a necessary evil to make those features happen, especially the ability to play purchased games on the disc without putting the disc in the Xbox. If you gave away or sold your disc, your Xbox would eventually know that you no longer owned the game and wouldn’t let you play the digital copy.
Unfortunately, Microsoft botched the marketing and failed massively at damage control. Players weren’t happy with a required internet connection, and Microsoft didn’t handle it well when those players made their displeasure known. Sony, on the other hand, gave a master class in capitalizing on another company’s mistakes.
Ultimately, Microsoft capitulated and repealed the Internet home phone requirement altogether. But, with that concession, he also eliminated the other big promises. Players would have to insert discs and would not be able to share their digital libraries. Effectively, the Xbox One now works exactly like the Xbox 360 when it comes to buying, selling, and playing games.
Don’t mark your friend’s Xbox as your home Xbox
The most common tip for sharing your library is pretty straightforward. Go to your friend’s house, add your Microsoft account to your Xbox, and mark that Xbox as your . To be fair, this will work and give your friend permanent access to your digital library. But the drawbacks and risks outweigh the benefits.
Here’s the worst part: You have to leave your Microsoft account connected to your friend’s Xbox. That means they have access to your credit card and can buy games and add-ons in your name with your money. To mitigate the purchase issue, you can turn off automatic sign-in on your Xbox and require a PIN to make purchases. But this is not the only problem.
Your friend will not only have access to your games; they will have control of all the benefits of their “home Xbox”. If you have Xbox Live Gold, you can share this with anyone who is signed in to your home Xbox. But since your friend’s Xbox has been marked as your home Xbox, anyone who signs in to your home Xbox won’t have Xbox Live Gold. If you have friends and family living with you, they will have to buy gold themselves.
You can only share your digital games like this with an Xbox. So while your friend can access their digital library on their Xbox at any time, they still need to be signed in to access the games on their Xbox. Any friends or family who sign in to your Xbox will need to sign in as you or buy their own copy of any game you own. You’ve essentially given away your digital sharing benefits to an Xbox that isn’t in your house.
You might think you’ll change who has the “main Xbox” when necessary, but Microsoft only allows five changes per year. That’s more than enough to help you out if an Xbox dies and you get a replacement, but not enough to let you switch frequently to play.
Do not reveal your Microsoft credentials
Entries like Privacy and Payment & Billing should scream “don’t grant access to this”.
You may look at all of the warnings above and decide that your friend can be trusted, especially with the mitigation technique of blocking automatic logins and purchases. But there is another piece of advice that some websites have offered, and it is much worse.
These sites point out that the mere act of signing in to an Xbox will temporarily give anyone else who also signs in access to your digital library. So here’s your solution: Give your friend your Microsoft account credentials, including your password. You can keep your Xbox set as your home Xbox, and your friend can sign in as you whenever they want to play a game in your library.
Please don’t ever do this.
Microsoft accounts aren’t just for Xbox. With your full credentials, your friend has access to your Microsoft email, your Onedrive cloud storage, your Skype account, any Windows 10 devices linked to your Microsoft account, and your payment information. Unlike the method above, there is no mitigation to prevent your friend from purchasing Xbox games, Microsoft Store PC games, or apps using your account.
And again, even if you trust your friend beyond a doubt, there is a significant drawback to this method. Microsoft only allows you to sign in to a single Xbox at a time. If you’re in the middle of a game on your Xbox and your friend signs into their Xbox with your account, you’ll be kicked and your game will end immediately. I better hope it autosaved.
Game sharing is for when you’re with your friends
If you’re wondering when you can share your digital game library with your friends, the answer is pretty simple. You can share when you are with your friends. Microsoft did not intend the above features to be permanent methods of sharing games with an Xbox in someone else’s home. The purpose of the Home Xbox feature is to conveniently share your games on the most used Xbox console in your home. There’s a reason Microsoft calls it “home Xbox” and not “a friend’s Xbox.”
To share games with your friends, you just need to be with them. When you’re both playing on your friend’s Xbox, sign in with your Microsoft account and they’ll have access to your digital library. When you’re done playing, log out and your games will come with you. That’s what Microsoft intended, and trying any other route will lead to problems accessing your game library at home, or worse, a friendship ended over a loss of money. Don’t take that risk, it’s just not worth it.