What the hell happened to Play Anywhere?

So I got my physical pre-order of Gears 5 for Xbone today, only to find out a few hours later that MS have quietly decided to rescind Play Anywhere for retail copies? What the actual f**k? I got Gears 4 from retail and it wasn’t an issue then, why is it suddenly an issue now?

I got Gears 5 for Xbone on the strength of Play Anywhere, so to find out this feature has been arbitrarily limited has left me somewhat p****d to say the least. Nowhere in any marketing–not on the MS store, not on Amazon, not at any of my local retailers, not even from TC themselves–has there been any hint that buying a digital copy is necessary. I only found out after digging around trying to figure out why my copy of the game wasn’t showing up in my MS library.

This is absolutely disingenuous by both MS for doing it, and TC for not mentioning it. A simple warning of “Hey, don’t buy the physical copy if you want to use Play Anywhere” from either company would have sufficed, but no. No warning on any official marketing.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, I can’t be too mad, since I wanted the physical Xbox copy to complement my copies of all the other games, but to find that my access to the MP is now restricted to the inferior platform and control scheme, simply because of an arbitrary choice by MS is both disappointing and incensing (and no, I’m not going to purchase the game again, before one of you suggests it).

We, as both a player base and customer base, should be applying pressure to MS to bring this back, as this is needlessly limiting and at least mildly anti-consumer. Why can’t I have a nice physical copy for my shelf, and the ability to play on whichever platform I like, just like I do with Halo Wars 2 and Gears 4?


Physical copies arent play anywhere seeing as you need the disc to authenticate the game


As RED has said, Xbox Play Anywhere only applies to digital purchases. It always has done. It probably always will do.

This was the case in Gears 4 as well I believe, and with Halo Wars 2 (as I have a physical copy of that game and couldn’t play it on PC). This isn’t new for Gears 5.

It’s unfortunate, but it is quite a costly mistake.

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I understand you’re frustrated but there’s a lot of info out there about this. I used to be all about hard copies but now that we have 2 xboxes and a pc at home, we do all digital so that we can share games and play anywhere.
Hope it didn’t sour your experience too much.

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Which is no excuse, since it worked before. I have hard copies of Gears 4 and Halo Wars 2, and both can be played on either platform. There isn’t even a business reason for it, it’s just stupid. So what if there’s a disc? Clearly the game is present on the account, so award the digital PC copy on top of it.

As I said above, I have hard copies for both of those games and can play them on PC or Xbox. Microsoft just decided to quietly change this at the beginning of 2018, according to my digging. My main beef is that there’s no warning of this anywhere in the marketing material, you actually have to go looking for it. How is the average consumer supposed to know this stuff if it isn’t presented on the store fronts?

Nah, I was always going to get the physical copy, since I have all the others physically. It’s just frustrating to be blindsided by something like this. I was looking forward to playing the MP on PC with K&M.

Strange, because the copy of Halo Wars 2 wont work on my PC.

I’m not saying you are wrong or anything but it works on my console but not on my PC.

It’s always been my understanding that “Play Anywhere” only ever applied to digital purchases made through the Microsoft/Xbox stores, not physical media. And they’ve always said that.

They won’t apply it to physical media for pretty obvious reasons already pointed out by others.

If any game you own on hard copy ever seemingly worked for you in “Play Anywhere”, it’s likely because you unknowingly had access to a full digital license to the game as well (via Games with Gold, or Game Pass, or something else).

I have the PC copy for HW2, but it’s been a while since I played it on console, so I’ll have to check there. Given it’s still sat in my library, and that I can still play Gears 4 on PC (when it decides to not crash), I’m guessing it’s still okay.

No, it was a change brought in at the beginning of 2018. It absolutely worked with hard copies of games before. I bought Gears 4 for Xbox, and Halo Wars 2 for PC, and both work on their opposing platforms (though I’ll have to double check HW2).

There’s no “obvious reason” to not do it. Nothing stopped them before, and it worked fine. Never had Game Pass before the Gears 5 tech test, and I haven’t had XBL Gold in years. Not since Halo 5 released, at least.

Sure there is. With physical copies, the disc is basically used to authenticate your ownership like a key - as opposed to digital copies, where the purchase is inherently bound to your account, which is why it’s simple to do “Play Anywhere” with digital purchases made using a Microsoft/XBL account . This is also why Steam digital purchases won’t support Play Anywhere - because the purchase is made and bound to your STEAM account, not your Microsoft account.

If physical copies supported Play Anywhere, then what’s to stop you from handing that Xbox disc to your friend to use, while you continue to play discless on your PC? And if it somehow uniquely bound that disc to your account permanently, then you aren’t even really buying a physical game - you’re buying a glorified CD Key.

Regarding your claims of what you used to be able to do, there’s no point in my arguing reality here, as we will just go in circles. All I can say is this has always been my understanding.

Like I said, it worked that way before, so I dunno why they suddenly decided to stop.

What’s stopping people from sharing their games with their friends? Same thing there used to be: Nothing. And that’s the way it should be. I own the damn game, I’ll do with it as I please. Now, you could argue that console games inherently prevent such usage, given that no disc = no play, but that’s a symptom of the “AAA” industry, and on PC (back in the day at least, and we’re seeing a resurgence of it with GoG), you could install your game and lend it to your mate to play with no issues.

But yeah, it is what it is, so…

It’s never worked for hard copy.


Play Anywhere, from literally the day it was first announced, was always supposed to be only for digitally purchased copies.

Here is a video from 2016 (just so happens to be part of the GoW4 announcement): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiHeJ2KGifM


When it comes to physical purchases, I agree - and that’s the entire point of physical discs. Your ownership is tied to the physical disc, versus digitally via an account. You can lend it to a friend, you can sell it to a Gamestop… whatever.

But that is also precisely why only digital purchases include a feature like Play Anywhere - because your account (and associated game licenses) follows you everywhere. Your disc ownership does not. There’d be nothing to stop you from handing around that disc, giving everyone a free copy of the game, unless they somehow bound that specific disc to your account only - at which point you cant do the stuff I mentioned in my first paragraph any more, and buying it physically becomes pointless.

Play anywhere is just digital, always has been

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it definitely did use to work. I only played gears 4 on the console, and then recently got a pc. and was able to play it free on the PC after.

now I just got gears 5 for the console, hoping I can download it on the pc later. and it doesn’t seem to be working.

LuL physical copy of GOW4 never got you the pc version. I remember back at launch of GOW4 regretting buying the disc version upon learning this.

Think about it. If the physical disc gave you a PC copy, you could buy the disc, unlock the pc version, and immediately sell the disc to someone else.

Buying the physical copy of Gears 4 never got you the play it anywhere. However, I do think when Quantum Break first released it may have come with a code for the digital copy, I don’t remember for sure.

Anyways, yeah physical games never netted you the digital PC version. If you have Gears 4 on PC it was either paid for or somehow you got it free at the expense of MS, but it wasn’t supposed to be free.

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I have no idea why so many people doesn’t read what others are saying, namely the ones saying that “it has never worked”, please make some research. I had it working AND is still working for me.

I have the GoW 4 Xbox One disc version. I was then able to download on PC, and I can play it on PC also. Look at my Xbox Beta (and previously, working directly from the Microsoft Store)

Therefore his question is still valid. If Microsoft changed its policies/“fixed it” so that it is digital-only from (start of 2018 from another comment?) now on, I’m fine with it and I understand, I get that I could simply resell the game and get away with keeping it on the PC version.

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Thank you for actually reading the thread. The amount of people in here going “oh, it never worked with physical copies” despite my telling them, no it actually did with two examples is infuriating.

Whatever happened to reading comprehension?

The same thing that happened to patience and manners, apparently.

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