Over the past weekend, XBOX users in the US and Europe got very familiar with Microsoft’s DRM program. As a result, if you owned a digital game, even one from the XBOX 360 days, you could not play it. According to USA Today, due to some hiccup on MS’s end, users were locked out of all downloaded games they owned, even if they were single-player, offline titles.
Of course, XBOX Support downplayed the issue.
We're aware that some users are unable to purchase games, launch games or start Cloud Gaming sessions. Our teams are investigating. Please keep an eye here and on our status page for updates. https://t.co/kQKp1LYR4o
— Xbox Support (@XboxSupport) May 7, 2022
By Sunday, most people could play their games, but it opened a lot of eyes to what could happen if an internet outage or server failure at MS were to occur. Millions of customers could be locked out of their digital copies for who knows how long. It’s like rolling the dice with a Stadia.
I had not immediately noticed the outage because I was playing a physical copy of Elden Ring. However, when I tried to launch my digital copies of Cyberpunk 2077 and the Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Saturday, I was met with error messages. One message said that the account which purchased the game would need to sign in.
Confused, I checked and saw that my one and only account that I’ve had since XBOX Live launched all those years ago was indeed signed in. So I tried a few other games in my library of 495 titles, each one failing to launch or giving me another error message about needing to be connected to the service.
While I had my XBOX Series X do a hard restart, I launched my PS5 and had no issue getting into my library and launching a COD match. So obviously, something was wrong on MS’s end.
It turns out that a major outage had happened that restricted XBOX owners from accessing any digital game they owned. This is all part of the company’s unified DRM protection program. If the rights to the game cannot be verified every time the game is launched, you don’t get to play the thing you purchased.
Rather than allowing each publisher to determine how/when DRM is put into place, Microsoft has a blanket rule that all digital games must have an online connection unless your XBOX is set as your primary machine. This is a setting I’ve never known about or used on my previous XBOX One or Series S consoles.
Even after turning this option on, I still could not play the digital titles. Now, it is understandable that turning the option on during an outage will not fix anything, but this setting should be on by default if the account has no other XBOX associated with it. I had deactivated my previous consoles when I secured a Series X.
This sort of overprotective DRM is so unnecessary that it is anti-consumer. For example, if someone owns one XBOX, uses a single ISP, and has only ever played a game on that XBOX, then why does the game need constant verification?
Let us know what you think about Microsoft’s DRM in the comments section below.
[Source: USA Today]