Gifting Xbox One digital games: Everything you need to know

Following the public release of the Xbox fall update, select Xbox One users are now receiving a new wave of features as a part of the upcoming subsequent release. Kicking this off, Microsoft recently rolled out game gifting to the Alpha ring of the Xbox Insider Program, allowing users to send items from the console's digital storefront to friends. Here's everything you need to know about game gifting on Xbox One, along with its associated restrictions.

What is game gifting for Xbox One?

Game gifting allows any Xbox One user to send games over Xbox Live in a digital form. As the platform's only approved method of sending digital games between players, giftable games can be purchased directly through the Microsoft Store and sent to friends. While physical games have been relatively easy to gift due to the nature of the medium, this is the first in-house solution offered for those with digital libraries.

How can I gift digital Xbox One games?

Similarly to rival platforms such as Steam, the Xbox One's game gifting feature is tied directly to the console's integrated store. Found on most game store pages, users can select the "Buy as gift" option, followed by a checkout process similar to traditional game purchases. After selecting the recipient via your Xbox Live friends list or manually entering an email address, a 25-digit redeemable code will be sent over email. In its current implementation, there's no option to receive codes outside of your email inbox. For a full breakdown of how to use digital game gifting, follow our in-depth step-by-step guide.

How to gift digital Xbox One games over Xbox Live

Which games can be gifted over Xbox Live?

In the first iteration of digital game gifting, most Xbox One titles available in the Microsoft Store can be sent. However, there are some caveats, leaving certain titles excluded for now. Select Xbox One titles (most notably certain Play Anywhere titles) can't be sent via game gifting right now. Xbox 360 games and original Xbox games also cannot be sent, due to the way these games are integrated into the marketplace. Preorders through the Microsoft Store are excluded from game gifting too, meaning the title must formally release to be sent.

Watch out – digital codes for games purchased via game gifting are also region-specific, meaning items are tied to the store they're obtained from.

Can I send DLC using game gifting for Xbox One?

Alongside full titles, downloadable content (DLC) such as expansions, map packs and cosmetic skins are all eligible for game gifting. For DLC to be sent, the base game also doesn't need to be owned by the sender and recipient.

Microsoft has implemented some restrictions surrounding DLC though, preventing consumable items from being sent through the feature. These items include loot boxes, virtual currencies, and microtransactions that can be spent, redeemed or expire.

Both Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions are also available as gifts.

Can I send discounted items as gifts?

If a sale is underway for games and DLC, game gifting can be used to provide a gift at a discount. However, only two copies of a specific discounted item can be gifted over a two-week period by a single user. After purchasing two copies of an item via game gifting, that item also cannot be gifted again for another 14 days, regardless of whether the discount is still active. Every two weeks, only 10 discounted items can be gifted from a single account before entering a cooldown period, where only full-price titles can be sent. There is no known restriction on full-price game gifting.

Can I refund gifted games?

Unlike traditional game purchases where games are instantly licensed to your account, gifted titles are sent in the form of a redeemable code. Due to this, games sent via game gifting are non-refundable, despite self-service refunds now being offered for traditional purchases.

Have you been using Xbox One game gifting so far? If so, let us know what you think of the feature and its restrictions in the comments section.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.