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Xbox console bundles ditch 25-digit codes for something easier

Microsoft is doing away with pesky codes for pack-in games, DLC, and subscriptions

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Green game code leaflets fly into a white Xbox One from the heavens. Image: Microsoft
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Setting up a modern video game console has traditionally meant punching in a bunch of lengthy codes. Any games that came packed in, along with any promotional memberships, each have their own string of letters and numbers to sort out. Going forward, Microsoft plans to do away with those codes. A new program called Digital Direct embeds those games, DLC packages, and trial subscriptions directly on the console itself.

The change to all-digital redemption for new consoles was quietly made on the Xbox website in an undated post. In fact, if you purchased a console recently you might have some goodies that you missed.

“During the Setup Process for your new console,” says Microsoft, “the content and service offers attached to the console will appear to redeem. Click ‘Claim it’ to redeem each item. Once redeemed, your content can be found in your digital library under My Games & Apps.”

A screenshot from the setup process of a new Xbox console shows the option to claim a game or decide later. Image: Microsoft

Note that according to Microsoft anything you redeem in this manner will be attached to the first account that redeems it. You also have the option to skip redemption during setup. To redeem those items later on you’ll need to navigate to your account, and then find a menu option labeled “Included with this Xbox.” Alternately, you can also find that same menu option in your library under the “Full Library” tab.

The benefits for consumers is pretty obvious, but there’s also a big upside for Microsoft. Many consumers simply don’t bother to sign up for Xbox Live when they get a new console, and they may not actually know what Xbox Game Pass is. This new Digital Direct feature makes it easier to get them into the ecosystem.

Another obvious upside is keeping loose codes off secondary marketplaces, some of which have been shown to enable fraud.

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