Guest Mode: A Feature with More Potential

video games Jul 26, 2020

I haven't had much time to write this week, but I still wanted to put something out. This week's entry is games-related. Upcoming posts require a bit more thought from me, and some passion too.

I currently live far away from my extremely large extended family (about 100+ people). During family events, I’d often bring a console over so some can have fun duking it out on a sports or fighting game, while others are having a blast outside.

Other times, family members my own age, or those who skewed on the young side, would come around to where I lived. After the had explored the backyard, swam in the pool, watched cartoons, they would sometimes ask me to get some games going.

Unless, I didn’t have anything specific to do or I decide to join in: the console would sit unsupervised.

In the PlayStation 2 days, I was traumatized when someone saved over my Dragon Ball Z: Budokai save file. And all those earned capsules went poof. The solution would have been to remove the memory card, but then they would not have had access to many of the characters and moves that I worked hard on getting. Honorable mention goes out to Tekken Tag 2 that had all of its characters unlocked at the start.

Recently, the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony) have implemented some form of guest account. Let’s go through each implementation before some small suggestions at the end.

I do not have any of these consoles on hand, but I did previously have a PS4. The rest is a result of some light research.


No guest accounts are possible, despite the information that went around on leaks years ago.

Here, one can sign in Sony’s console allows people to log in using a smartphone to avoid others seeing your username and password. Guests cannot purchase anything from the store out-right or in-game, and usually do not have access to online content.

Source. Modified by removing arrow and upscaling using AI for improved legibility.

All guest accounts are deleted once signed out.

Microsoft’s implementation has you create a guest key which can restrict downloads and/or the creation of new accounts, as well as content in general.

Guest profiles themselves are a copy of an existing one, and are removed once the player signs out.

Source. Upscaled too.

My Small Suggestions

Instead of guest profiles, I would suggest a full-on guest mode, slightly similar to kiosk mode seen in-stores.

One option, would be to provide an option to save progress on a permanent profile or transfer it to an existing profile (including the unlocked achievements / trophies).

Another would be to have more granular control of what is copied from another profile that would serve as the basis for guest mode. This would require more dev work, but for example, characters and teams that have been unlocked can be accessed and nothing else.

In the case of system settings, the permanent profile could configure that and then be hidden from view. This profile can be unhidden with a quick button combination on the login screen (e.g. R1 + O) or something. I admit that I didn’t think this part through extensively.

Two others I discussed this with suggested the following (paraphrased):

  1. It'd be cool for Guest Mode to pop up a QR code you can then scan with said Nintendo/Xbox/PlayStation app that has your login info already and just signs you in that way temporarily until the system turns off / goes into sleep mode / etc.
  2. This should go one step further and allow people to have completely temporary accounts with local saves. These should be different from the existing offline profiles. Some just want to play games without any traceable history associated to them.

The console giants are unlikely to ever come across this post, but one can hold out hope that someone there has thought of these.


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