Game sharing is a particularly nifty thing you can do when it comes to Xbox. Using it, you can have one person buy a game, then share that game with someone else so that you can both play it without both having to pay for it.
Technically, you can game share on Xbox with a nearly unlimited number of people, but in reality, you can only game share with one other Xbox, and there are some caveats to how the system works.
What is Game Sharing?
As mentioned before, game sharing is when one person buys a digital game, then shares with it someone else who has not paid for that game. But in reality, the way game sharing works is not about sharing the game with another person, but rather, sharing it between different Xboxes.
When you game share, what you are really doing is making it so that a game you bought can be played on both your Xbox can be played on someone else’s Xbox. How this works is all about profiles and permissions.
How Does Game Sharing Work?
When you buy a game via the Microsoft Store, the permission to play that game is tied to the profile that you bought the game with. For the sake of the explanation, let’s call that Profile A. Profile A is allowed to play the game on any Xbox, as long as they are logged into their profile when they are playing.
What this means is that you could technically allow anyone to play the game you bought, but only if you were allowing them to use your profile, and of course, you would not be able to play the game yourself at the same time since the profile would be in use somewhere else.
This is where the “Home Xbox” comes in. When you have your own Xbox profile, you are able to set a singular Xbox as your “home Xbox.” Think of it like your primary Xbox. On your Home Xbox, anybody on any profile can play a game that you bought with your profile.
Obviously, the intent from Xbox here is to allow families to play a game on one Xbox, without having to purchase the same game multiple times. That way one member of a household can buy the game, and every member of the household can play it on the same Xbox without having to use the same profile.
But this can be used to share your games with at least one other Xbox as well, and this is the essence of game sharing. The way this works is as follows. All you have to do is make someone else’s Xbox your home Xbox, which also requires having your profile on that Xbox.
If you make someone else’s Xbox the home Xbox of the profile you bought a game with, then anyone will be able to play that game on that Xbox, even with their own profiles. At the same time, you’ll still be able to play the game you bought with your own profile because your profile can play your games on any Xbox, even one that is not your home Xbox.
Of course, if you are making someone else’s home Xbox your home Xbox, that means that Xbox can no longer be their home Xbox. In this situation, they could make the Xbox you own their home Xbox, which means you will be able to play any games that they have bought with their profiles.
In doing this, you can share games you have bought with one other Xbox, and whoever you share with can share the games they have bought with your Xbox.
So, How Many People Can you Game Share With?
Based on everything we have discussed so far, you may see how the game sharing system can be taken advantage of, but also what limitations it has. Technically, you could share your games with an unlimited number of people… so long as they all had access to the Xbox you had made your home Xbox.
But obviously, that’s not how things really work. You cannot share your games with multiple different households. Even if you think to just switch your “home” Xbox around to different Xboxes, you can only do this a handful of times a year, so that’s not an option either.
Therefore, you can really only share your games with one other person, and anyone who has access to their Xbox. Of course, that person can also game share all of their games with you in this fashion, meaning you could have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Just remember that your profile has to be on the Xbox you designate your home Xbox, so you wouldn’t want to do this for anyone that you didn’t fully trust with your profile.