Update: Amazon has contacted me and clarified the matter. Pre-ordering an Xbox Play Anywhere title through Amazon means you will get the key on release day and will have to download it then. The only way to preload a game is to pre-order it directly through Xbox Live.
Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Play Anywhere program will allow gamers to buy a digital copy of select Xbox One games and play them on both a console or a Windows 10 PC. You’ll be able to switch between the two with all of your progress intact. Despite Microsoft’s confusing messaging about Play Anywhere, it sounds like a cool feature and now players have another choice when buying these games. Amazon is now taking preorders for the Play Anywhere version of upcoming Xbox One games.
This works in much the same manner as buying other digital games from Amazon. They will send you a game key that you can redeem on Xbox Live via your console or web browser.
The only thing that is unclear is when we will actually receive the game key. One of the big advantages of digital distribution is preloading – allowing us to download the game before release day so we can play it as soon as it is unlocked. I reached out to Amazon Customer Service and in a response worthy of a Microsoft PR spokesperson, I received an answer that seemingly indicates that we will be able to preload the game.
That is not entirely clear at this point and if the ability to preload games is important to you I would suggest caution until we get more details. I have reached out to both Amazon and Xbox Support and requested clarification on this matter. If Amazon does not offer the option to preload the game then I do not see much of an advantage over simply preordering the game directly on Xbox Live. There will undoubtedly be gamers with some Amazon gift card credit they would like to use but they could always use that to buy a currency code from Amazon to use on Xbox Live.
I will update this article when Amazon or Xbox Support provides further details. For those who are interested, here are the links to the first wave of Xbox Play Anywhere games on Amazon.
Thanks, Game Idealist.