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Gaming online is a leisurely activity that seems to be growing in popularity with wider demographics, and it is not hard to see why. From large to independent developers at small studios, there is a huge selection of titles people can play on consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox.
Even the early days of arcade gaming had cooperative and competitive elements, with two or more players sharing a screen and directing different characters toward their goals. Modern home entertainment consoles offer much of this same functionality, and they do so in ways that let you play with friends and family both in the home and elsewhere. Microsoft expanded some of this when it added its own catalog of games that one player could share with another.
We’ll dive into the details of how an Xbox owner might share their titles with family members. Additionally, we will explain some of how Xbox’s GameShare program is supposed to work, including whether you can share the same title more than once, if there are any cons to using the program, and if there are any stipulations that might see Microsoft ban any accounts due to any kind of improper sharing.
Yes, family and friends can share your games using Xbox’s program. Alternatively, they can choose to share their own titles with you, too. Opting to make your games and other content available via this program allows people to have access to the content even when your own Xbox profile is not active on the system.
Typically, you would sing into your profile automatically when your console starts up. In other situations, you may want to sign into it yourself manually. For either scenario, the console needs you to sign into your Xbox account.
However, if you want to make your console available as part of the GameShare program, the signing in part of the process would no longer be something the device asks for when you start it up.
It is an integral feature of GameShare, and we will go into more detail about it in the next section. Doing away with the need to sign in every time you want to get content on the console is what opens it up for others to share your titles.
At its core, GameShare from Xbox works by making a particular console your official home console. This designation tells Microsoft not to lock the console the way it otherwise would. As we mentioned, you would usually sign into your own Xbox Live account whenever you use your console.
This account is an extension of a typical Microsoft account. It is what connects your Xbox gamertag and profile to the content you use or own on the console. This content might include games, digital media such as movies or series, access to particular apps you decided to install, and more.
Under normal circumstances, your Xbox console needs you to sign into your account in order to give you access to this content. Even with apps you might have installed for free, the use and organization of them within your Xbox system could be unique to you, and the device will still want you to sign in if you want to access everything.
This is doubly true for any content you have purchased over the years, including games or video media. When you make purchases, you input payment options that tie into your account. Additionally, anything you download provides your account with a digital license that gives you permission to access or use that content within the bounds of whatever terms and conditions the developer and Microsoft have decided to set.
When you designate your console as a home console, it gives Microsoft the signal that you would like it to remain open. In doing so, access to your content remains in effect even when your account is not active on the device.
In this way, friends and family can use the content you have purchased without needing your login information or going through any security prompts. This extends to other user profiles that may sign in on your home console, too.
Theoretically, if another person wants to GameShare with you, they can power up your home console. Instead of you needing to sign in as a way to give them access, they can sign into their own profiles. Once they do, as long as you set your console to the home designation, they can access your games and other media.
You should also be able to download, share, or play games digitally via any Xbox without needing to switch your home console designation first. This could be a good option for anyone who wants to play on a second console or with a friend.
There may be a couple of downsides to using Xbox’s GameShare feature, but they depend on what you plan to do with the service. We’ve made a short list of possible issues some users may face if they engage in the program, but not everything on the list will apply to all gamers. Here are some possible cons you may encounter:
1. If your profile is on someone else’s Xbox, and that Xbox is something someone decides is the home device, you may not be able to play your games offline. Microsoft allows players to access some of their games in offline mode, but the standard way to do this is via your home console.
If you are using someone else’s console as the home one in this scenario, and your account is on it for GameSharing purposes, you wouldn’t have access to those games if the system is offline.
2. If you want to GameShare with someone else in the family, but you are already doing this on someone else’s console, the family member would not be able to access your content just by logging into their own account. This is issue relates to the example above, and it follows much of the same reasoning.
In order to fix this problem, the other person would need to log into your account first, then they could log into theirs and have access to your content.
3. Special content may not be available to the person who is sharing the home console with the owner. For example, some pre-order content might not show up, or game content that the home console owner purchased with specific currency might be unavailable. On a related note, currencies that the owner holds as a balance for games would not be available to the other players.
Technically, you can GameShare content from the home console with several other accounts. The home console gives access to the account holder’s content out to other players.
The other members of the group simply need to make sure that the Xbox in question is something you’ve set as the home console for them, so that they can then access the content from their own consoles.
In essence, you are sharing access to your digital content across different accounts at the same time. In this way, it amounts to sharing the same games more than once, in a sense.
As we’ve learned, Microsoft makes the GameShare program a useful feature that any console owner can access. Microsoft meant for players to use it, so there is little risk of any accounts getting banned for doing so.
Players can even find FAQs that relate to GameShare questions on the official Xbox site, too. That said, there is at least one caveat to keep in mind, and violating it could result in some problems for players.
Microsoft does want to encourage GameSharing, but only as long as gamers use it in the official sense. In order to GameShare properly, a player would sign into another person’s console with their account. While this account is active, they set that console as the home Xbox.
This makes the content available to the owner of the console in question, and how both players can share it. However, you should not share your specific login credentials with others. If you are the one designating a home console so that other players can access your content, you should delete that information from the device once you’ve set up the home unit.
It is important to remember that you can only set one console as your home console at any given time. Microsoft will never change this console designation, so you will have to do so yourself if anything changes regarding how you decide to GameShare.
You’ll need to remove the home property from the console you activated when you logged into your account the first time you decided to GameShare. Once you unlink it, you are free to make a different console the home one, thus sharing your content with a different group of people.
Sharing games via different Xbox consoles is a great way for other players to enjoy titles you have already purchased. It’s relatively easy to set this up, and you only need to log in once in order to designate a console as a home device that gives others access to your content.
Once done, they have this content even when they log into their own accounts rather than yours. This feature does present a challenge if the host network goes down, but these events should be rare.