back to article Accountants HATE them: Microsoft's Xbox harnesses blockchain to pay games publishers

All aboard the blockchain hypewagon – Microsoft announced today that it has begun using the technology to deal with royalty and digital rights contracts. While the shiny toy, which runs on Azure (of course), is interesting, lurking within the excited ramblings was an admission of how Xbox game publishers used to get their …

  1. ArrZarr Silver badge

    Excel and print outs lasted so long because the process probably worked and there were bigger problems to deal with.

    The two may not work particularly well for many situations, but in the vast majority of situations that they can be used, they are "good enough" and are flexible enough to basically do anything you need.

  2. Dr Who

    Classic case of a problem that could (and should) be addressed by a conventional database. The only reason to use blockchain is where two or more parties who don't trust each other need to agree on a version of the truth. Traditionally this problem is solved by using a trusted intermediary such as a bank or land registry. With the blockchain the issue is resolved by having multiple nodes a majority of which must agree to validate a transaction AND where no single party controls a majority of the voting nodes.

    In this case all the nodes belong to Microsoft and the blockchain is simply being used as a database to allow developers to view their royalties and how they were calculated. Should've been a normal database.

    On the issue of GDPR it is prefectly valid to store data that is encrypted with someone's public key within the blockchain so that, in this case, a developer could only view the details of their own royalties. Transparency in the context of the blockchain is the ability for all nodes to view and agree on the integrity of the chain. It does not mean revealing private data that is not actually part of the chain's proof of integrity.

    1. Hollerithevo

      Sledgehammer, meet knut

      I agree with Dr Who: they go from Excel and PDFs to a blockchain? A nice little invoicing package wouldn't have done the job? a payment gateway?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I too agree. The problems, as stated, seem to be with data collection and input for processing, and I can't see how a blockchain will help with that.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I guess they're dogfooding a product we don't know about yet.

    3. SVV

      "The only reason to use blockchain is where two or more parties who don't trust each other need to agree on a version of the truth."

      One of the parties is Microsoft.

      Seriously though, they've tried to say "look how modern and clever we are with our blockchain!", and made themselves look like backwards idiots. 45 day payment delays, manual perusal of pdf documents and excel spreadsheets? in 2018? Didn't have time and resources to knock together or adapt an automated system in the past however many years? This is Microsoft and Xbox we are talking about here, not a local small business. Plus you've publicly admitted using the "solution in search of a problem" moronic approach to system design. Use the right tools for the job if you want IT people to be impressed.

  3. Mage



    It's a tool for distributed anonymisation.

    There are better non-shiny ways to upgrade from Excel & PDFs. Crazy buzzword bingo.

    Or has MS forgotten how to do stuff?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Blockchain?

      It's a tool for distributed anonymisation.

      All the better for sending the filthy lucre to that offshore account then?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Issues With Blockchain In General

    1. I believe it's possible to put memo data in a Blockchain e.g. [something which if found on 'at rest' storage you own may result in criminal prosecution in your jurisdiction]

    2. GDPR -> infinite forks

    3. Carbon footprint

    4. Hash algorithm 'shelf life'

    Interesting maths, but no thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Issues With Blockchain In General

      So, if I issue a Subject Delete Request, they can say "Sorry its impossible because we store it in a blockchain?"

      Hm. I see shenanigans.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. katrinab Silver badge

    Why blockchain?

    What is wrong with SQL Server, and why would a blockchain do it better?

    You can substitute SQL Server with your favourite relational database system, I’m choosing SQL Server because Microsoft are unlikely to use a competitor’s product.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Why blockchain?

      I think you might have actually hinted at the answer to your own question.

      As we know, Microsoft prefer to use their own products in house. I'm guessing someone at MS had a bright idea for a blockchain based accounting system (based in the cloud for added buzzwordiness), and they looked around the company until they found a problem that it could be bodged into solving.

      In this case it happened to be the Xbox royalties division who got to be the guinea pigs.

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