As digital distribution rose to prominence, that’s the direction console bundles went. Cheaper than manufacturing a physical product, buying a new Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch often means one or more codes to redeem for games. In the grand scheme, it’s fine; taking 30 seconds to punch in a string of random digits is a little clumsy but it gets the job done.
Xbox has a solution that’s far more elegant. When setting up a new Xbox, users will be prompted to claim whatever came bundled with their purchase. Games, subscriptions, DLC — all of it is tied to the console and available as part of those first steps during setup. Microsoft calls this “Digital Direct,” a name that seems perfectly apropos. Microsoft also warns that the content will be entitled to the first account that redeems it, so don’t jump the gun and grant it to whichever account does the initial setup.
There’s an obvious major drawback to Digital Direct. Users seemingly no longer have the option of selling pack-in codes they have no interest in. That’s content that is forever bound to the console, whether redeemed or not. (Of lesser importance, if not redeemed in the setup process, the content hides in a sub-menu called “Included with this Xbox” under the Account tab or alongside the offers in “Full Library.”)
Otherwise, it’s a neat quality of life thing that makes owning a new Xbox a little more intuitive. (So was scanning QR codes with Kinect, RIP.) Considering how many non-gaming folks are probably setting up new consoles for the first time, punching in 25-digit codes is probably confusing and inefficient at first. This should change that.