Xbox DRM Punishes More Paying Customers And Actually Restricts Purchasing Options

from the fighting-bad-ideas-with-worse-software dept

Publishers are still hanging on to DRM despite example after example of how it does little more than annoy or harm paying customers. Why would you purposely annoy those throwing money your direction? To fight off a few pirates? Is it worth it? Most DRM is cracked and discarded within hours of a game's debut and yet, companies hold onto the crippling code, assuming that a small dent in piracy is worth the fallout from hundreds of pissed off customers venting their rage all over the internet.

Some of the most pernicious forms of DRM take the form of “online services” which require a unique login and account before anything can be done gamewise. Under the auspices of “convenience,” software companies have managed to lock down access to purchased games, reserving the right to do whatever they want with the software, thanks to broadly written Terms of Service and, for console manufacturers, binding arbitration “agreements.”

Over at Medium Difficulty, another gamer is dealing with DRM, as implemented by Xbox Live.

The particular set up for us to play three player horde mode, with system link, in the same house led to our first transgressive living room. Two TVs was wrong, but it felt so right. Gears of War 3 came out and we continued to enjoy our set up, especially since friends could also join over Xbox Live. For our non-nuclear unit, it was the golden age of multiplayer. Then the Mass Effect demo dropped with included MP. While I know we might be in the minority, we found it, and still do, a pretty enjoyable experience. But we hit a hiccup: we couldn’t split screen the multiplayer. There is no couch multiplayer for Mass Effect 3.

So we did what any reasonable modern family with disposable income would do: we bought a second Xbox. And honestly? There’s no going back. Couch co-op is not a guarantee anymore. Xbox Live has done wonders for online console gaming, but it has made a local co-op a second priority in some instances. There are enough games that do not support local co-op, and even more that do not support both local and online at the same time.

So far, the outlay for Microsoft products, at the very minimum, includes two Xboxes. Then there's the fact that two avid gamers share the same living space, meaning that the outlay for software is much larger than your typical “complaining basement dweller.” (The preceding is the sort of dismissive wording often deployed by DRM defenders in an effort to make a very real problem sound like some loser's overwrought drama. No one falls for it anymore, but it still makes frequent appearances in comment threads and forums.)

First, the co-op problem. Not really a DRM issue, but the next one definitely is:

Our second Xbox came with Fable 3, which is yay! but it also introduced us to the problems of owning two Xboxes. DRM is a real pain in the ass… We would go to play our Fable 3 campaign on one machine and be told that we couldn’t use the DLC, even though, you know, the code was in the box sitting on top of the machine. Without that DLC, you cannot load a saved game.

Because DLC (downloadable content — ranging from small add-ons to standalone games) gets assigned to the Xbox it was purchased on and the player's Gamertag (which makes sense), but is a problem when attempting to make sure your DLC shows up on both consoles. Microsoft's rationale is simple: prevent users from going from Xbox to Xbox with their Gamertag and downloading DLC (and standalone games) onto the drives of non-paying gamers.

But this rationale doesn't do much for households with multiple consoles who most likely aren't going to buy a unique copy of DLC (much less full games) for each Xbox in the house. Since the games can't be played at the same time (with one disc and say, two or more Xboxes), it would make sense (from the consumer's perspective) to be able to transfer the DLC (especially if you can't even load a saved game without it) from console to console.

Also bear in mind that purchasing full games via XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) ties that game to that particular Xbox if the “wrong” Gamertag is used.

For example: I purchased TellTale’s Walking Dead Episode 1. I enjoyed it a great deal. When episode 2 came out, Meg thought she would be a kind and thoughtful spouse and purchase it for me. This was apparently not the Microsoft-endorsed thing to do. Months later, I still haven’t been able to actually play the second episode. I have to either buy it again, or play it on another system. Which is dumb.

Thinking that these limitations could be worked around by using a Family Account (you know, to make sure all of your family members can access the same DLC/games), the author set one up only to find that Microsoft's definition of “family” is rather bizarre.

We set the account up under Meg, then gave me all the permissions that any adult would want on his game console, and went about our gaming business. That was until one day when I went to purchase something from Live and realized that, from Xbox LIVE’s perspective, I was not an adult at all. I could not add points to my account. This wasn’t a setting in our family account. Nope, only one member of the family can add points to their account. If I want points to buy something, Meg has to give me an allowance. I’m not joking, that is the word in the interface. An allowance.

Nice. A system that treats grownups like children and everyone like thieves and at no time approaches the reality of today's gaming market. Instead, it sets up a series of intricate hoops that must be navigated before DLC can move from machine to machine.

Context: Meg’s Xbox is the new version, so black, and mine is the old white one.

Prerequisite: Have both gamertags saved on a USB stick. This allows you to log in to any Xbox without transferring your gamertag or recovering it from Live.

1. Log in to black Xbox with Meg’s gamertag.
2. Go into Family Settings.
4. Instead of using the default payment options, because I don’t want to charge her credit card, I select my credit card from the list of her payment methods.
5. Purchase a number of points.

Info: You can add 500 points or in 1000 point increments.

Let's just break in here for a moment and roll our eyes at the “point” system which handily turns actual money into useless Xbox Fun Buxx. Further eye rolling will ensue after step 6.

6. After the points have been added to Meg’s account, I grant them to my account.

Additional info: You can only grant points in increments of 400. Thanks for the convenience.
Remember: Most DLC on Xbox Live is in neither 500 or 400 point increments. I know what’s happening here, Microsoft.

Fun stuff. This sort of plan always leaves a gamer's “wallet” either short a few hundred points or with no way to bring the account down to 0. Microsoft loves this, just like many companies love gift cards. More often than not, the card is discarded with some spare change on it. Not enough for one person to keep, but thousands of leftover virtual coins soon adds up to real money. It's not completely Machiavellian but it still works out pretty well for the companies issuing the cards.

7. I then sign in to my account on the black Xbox, purchase what I wanted and download it.
Result: Now, the DLC is available on Meg’s Xbox so that she can play it if she wants.

8. Turn off the black Xbox, and then log in to the white Xbox with my account and download/transfer whatever I bought.
Result: I can play the DLC on my Xbox, and Meg can play it on her Xbox.

Please note: She cannot play the DLC on my Xbox.

That's a whole lot of steps for a paying customer to jump through just to make sure someone doesn't run off with some free DLC. If you and your family members are taking turns playing something that requires DLC in order to load a save, it would make more sense (in Microsoft's eyes) to skip buying a console(s) from it and just schedule some time in front of the only Xbox. That scenario is whole lot likelier than hoping its DRM scheme will be obtuse enough to force multiple gamers with multiple consoles under one roof to purchase individual copies for every Xbox. Microsoft may consider that to be the “right” or “moral” choice, but I can guarantee you the consumer doesn't.

Last word to “CPG,” the author of this piece:

I shouldn’t have to set up charts to figure out what DLC is on what machine, especially when we are on a family account that actually restricts my ability to purchase DLC.

We’re a modern family, geared towards gaming. We’re publishers’ target market – and if we’re not, we will be soon. They need to start thinking ahead.


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Comments on “Xbox DRM Punishes More Paying Customers And Actually Restricts Purchasing Options”

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Ninja (profile) says:

That’s why I don’t bother buying anything that requires me to be online or is tied to a single device anymore (unless of course this is the whole reason the system was built such as an mmo game with, you know, mmo features). I actually returned games that have this sort of requirement already. My Xbox and Wii are unlocked and while I’d love to buy some stuff from their online environment I don’t want to deal with the DRM attached.

So, yeah, you can kiss goodbye to the money you are losing. I still have my old, working games to entertain me 😉

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Me too. DRM, particularly internet access requirements, is the reason that I can no longer call myself a gamer. The enjoyment I got from the games did not outweigh the aggravation these schemes introduce.

I do still buy games, but rarely DRM’d games and never games that require internet access to be playable.

I’ve done without them for long enough now that I don’t miss them or have any special desire for them anymore. So I’m a permanently lost customer. Even if all game companies eliminated DRM altogether, I’m not likely to return to the fold.

Anonymous Coward says:

and the day Microsoft takes any notice of customers, so will the RIAA, MPAA, MAFIAA EAGames and every other of the entertainment industries. in other words, there aint a hope in hell! they would rather lose an absolute shit load of customers and an even bigger shit load of money than admit that they are wrong!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It’s much like complaining about cell phone companies yet continuing to spend $150 a month on your phone”

Because terms of service never change after you originally signed up for a contract, there’s plenty of competition everywhere with equal coverage and there’s no penalties for ending your contract early?

That’s not to say that everything there is applicable to the XBox situation, but you have to take into account all the factors involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

To the companies you are not a customer to be looked after, but a consumer who will rip them off at every opportunity. Sharing a single copy of a game, you are robbing the creator; oops I mean publisher. Want to move between machines in different locations, you must be sharing with another person, see previous point.
In trying to maximize income, DRM is gradually maximizing the number of people that look elsewhere for their entertainment. This will eventually kill DRM by killing the companies that use it.

PaulT (profile) says:

A fairly typical story, unfortunately, for a lot of people. You can be using a product completely legally, but if you happen to have a use case that the manufacturers didn’t think of (or specifically don’t want you to do), you’re screwed. Some companies are better than others, but the message tends to be clear – “use the product the way WE want you to, not the way YOU want to”.

In some ways it’s a side-effect of the commodity nature of modern electronic equipment, but it’s definitely a problem when people have to jump through such hoops to use their own equipment with their own purchased content in a perfectly legal manner. I can certainly point to a number of cases in my own experience where this kind of thing has directly led to lost sales.

Yet again, a case where the pirates get a better deal than paying customers, and another set of people painfully aware that their lives would be easier if only they had opted to “steal” content instead of buy it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I just bought Torchlight II. It was just a matter of coughing up the cash, receiving an activation code for the demo (which I already had installed beforehand), boom, done, me and my brother are playing in LAN with the characters we were using in the demo. No DRM madness, no always online requirement, no jumping through hoops.

I hear they are about to release mod tools too. Can’t wait to put my grubby little fingers on those and crank out some maps/mods (if I ever manage to put the game down).

But your locked up system looks good too…for those that like that sort of thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

My suggestion for the gamer is simple:

Get rid of the Xbox machines, go out and buy a stack of coloring books and crayons and quit yer whining. If you don’t like the way the product is sold, if you don’t like the way the product works, then DON’T BUY IT.

Buying it and then endlessly whining that it won’t give you more than you paid for is silly.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Buying it and then endlessly whining that it won’t give you more than you paid for is silly.

But not buying it won’t change anything either. The only thing that works is complaining about shitty products (“endlessly whining”). Cases proving this. This would not have happened without people “endlessly whining” about being treated like shit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“if you don’t like the way the product works, then DON’T BUY IT.”

…is so representative of a producer-centric culture. I’d fire any marketing manager even hinting at such a non-consumer oriented mindset.

… it’s much like saying nobody cares about what customers want, they should be happy with whatever products they’re being pushed at, regardless how flawed they are.

Are you a communist ?

PlagueSD says:

Re: Re: Re:

Which is why I haven’t purchased Diablo III yet. I like the game, I purchased Diablo I and Diablo II. I even played the demo of the first act. The reason I’m not buying it? I can’t play it at my Grandmother’s house when I’m visiting because she doesn’t have internet.

ANY game that requires an active internet connection for SINGLE PLAYER MODE is just plain dumb…Diablo I and II didn’t have that restriction. Why is it needed for Diablo III?

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re:

“quit yer whining.”

Hell to the FUCK NO!

The “whining” as you call it are people with legitimate complaints about stuff they purchase.

It’s OUR HARD-EARNED MONEY that WE CHOOSE to GIVE to the COMPANIES for a product they make that we might like.

IF! IF! The companies screw up, then WE, as their CUSTOMERS, have a RIGHT to voice our complaints when a product WE PURCHASED does NOT work to the way it is SUPPOSED TO!

One thing that the Service Industry has right is this…

“The customer is always right.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, that’s not just the service industry. I can buy a car, new off the lot and drive it for 30 days and return it, no questions asked. Just say, “It wasn’t for me, I’d rather have something else.” And they’ll be fine with that. I can buy a television, take it home, set it up and return it within two weeks for a full refund or for something different, no questions asked. I can go sit in a restaurant, order something and eat half the meal (or the entire thing in some places) and complain and they’ll gladly comp the meal, replace the food, or give me back cash or credit. (In one case, I received cash back and an extra $40 on top of what I’d spent. Why? For the inconvenience of having to drive out of my way to get to the restaurant where the service was bad, namely they charged me for a meal that wasn’t mine. Manager said wait two weeks, if the funds aren’t returned to your bank account I’ll give you the cash for the incorrect charge and more on top because you have to come all the way out here to pick it up. Needless to say, with service like that, I continue to go back to that restaurant.)

Yet when it comes to entertainment in the form of physical discs or digital downloads, nope. Sorry. You bought it. Defective, buggy, etc? Too bad. Your problem.

Well that and cell phone carriers. They are just as bad as the entertainment industry.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re:

Yeah there is a problem there. While the most vocal are often the gamers, DRM is a problem for all technology. That includes smartphones, Tablets, music, ebooks, movies almost anything electronic in nature.

See the problem is that people expect value for money and when they pay for something and don’t receive the value expected they get upset.

How would you feel if you bought a car only to find out after the fact that you were the only one that could drive it and that you could not drive it more than two blocks from your house? Oh and by the way, you can’t sell it either.

See the problem?

Well that happens with nearly all software. You pay for it, can’t view the license until you do, then you can’t return it if you don’t agree. That is why I use as little DRM’d software as possible! There are plenty of alternatives. Oh and that goes for music and movies too. I have long since chosen to remove myself from those markets for similar reasons. Oh, and less you think differently I don’t cry about it at all. I look at it like this, those companies with excessive DRM… have saved me vast amounts of disposable income which have been placed in better things like home improvements, and retirement.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Buying it and then endlessly whining that it won’t give you more than you paid for is silly.

I think his complaint is that it won’t give him what he paid paid for, not more than he paid for.

Your criticism would be valid if he knew of this trap prior to his purchase and bought it anyway. If he didn’t then complaining about being ripped off doesn’t seem terribly out of line.

Roman (user link) says:


I remember when HTML5 video was starting to get going and websites like Hulu said they didn’t use it because it lacked the “feature” of DRM compared to proprietary plugins. And I’m like “DRM isn’t a feature! It’s exactly the opposite – you design a text editor to be able to print or whatever and do it well, but with DRM you design software to be defective and *not* work. How’s that a feature?”

Mecandes (profile) says:

Another aspect not covered in article...

Also related to this same issue: the big game companies are now requiring users to enter one-time on-line passcodes to enable the ability to play multiplayer (and also sometimes preorder DLC etc.) The idea is, only the original purchaser can play for free ? if someone buys a used re-sale copy of the game, they need to pay for a code to access multiplayer.

But you see the problem for the modern gaming family: you can buy one copy of a movie and all sit on the couch and enjoy it together as a family, or buy a book and pass it around for a shared experience ? but when it comes to Xbox multiplayer gaming, they are expecting you to now buy 4 copies of a $80 game in order to enjoy it together.

To add insult to injury: we pay Microsoft a monthly fee for access to multiplayer features! And yet they are now allowing companies to restrict that access with passcodes. It’s absolutely unbelievable.

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

Re: Another aspect not covered in article...

That last bit is the part that rankles me a bit. They originally sold it to us as a multi-player gaming service. Now it is being sold as merely a network that companies use and microsoft provides player matching on.

I still think it is a great service overall – but that they change it around to let companies grind more out of consumers is a bit of pisser.

I still prefer companies that make the best games, regardless of how much they want for them, but when it seems like a company is more focused on loss-control instead of making a great product to sell I try to avoid them.

Nobody says:

Missed one other set of hoops...err options

It is possible for Meg to play the DLC on your box.

You can elect to “transfer” the “ownership” of the DLC to the other xbox. This would allow anyone to play the DLC on your xbox, but now only you would be able to play it on Meg’s xbox.

Of course doing this means that you now have to re-download the content on each box to “update” the license information on each xbox.

Oh…and you can only do this once every 4 months.

I am still unclear if you can “transfer” the “ownership” of the DLC to another account ID, like if I want to give the Fable III DLC to my daughter (whom I bought it for in the first place) when she moves out.

Yeah, DRM is a really cool “feature”. Figuring out how to make it work was like the greatest achievment ever! /s

Joseph M. Durnal (user link) says:

I own 2 xboxes

I have one at home and one at the office. At home, I have all my games, DLC, etc. At the office, I bought a 2nd copy of my favorite games. But I didn’t buy the DLC again, so I can’t use it at the office. I just figured that was the way things worked in the land of consoles. Not that I play the xbox in the office much, but every so often I get online and game with my son.

ntlgnce (profile) says:

Well DUH.

Its a huge mess, thats why you need to get a real gaming machine, The COMPUTER. I have no issues with DRM, and Playing games, I can do it from any computer anywhere in the world. I have no issues with transfering points, or “family” filters. Do what you should of done in the first place, grow up and get a real system. ( All valid arguements from the past are null and void, as I can play ANY X-box, PS3, Wii title on my pc, and still get the wireless kinect experiance with all. To top that, I have double the video processing as the best Xbox, ten times the space to save the games to, and OMG the ram, LOL xbox’s newest release is 10 years in the past for the amount of ram you can have. I dont have to worry about “paying to play other gamers, its all free” ( a few game aside, but there are free versions of those out there if you hunt around, and you cant do that on an XBOX). Trust me bud, Get a PC, and grow up and get over the console. ( Yes I can still use an Xbox controler, I can even use the headsets and keypads, ( the PC keyboard is sooo much better for most games though,) I can still hook my Tower to a tv. I could even have the cool colored rings if I truly wanted to. And on the last note, I only paid 399.99 for my tower.

I hope this helps your desision on where to go from here.
Oh and No need to worry about the red ring of death completely distroying the entire box, If something breaks its very cheap to replace parts in a snap.

LOL Kids these days, its no wonder so many people are still freaking out over an iPhone, ( check the specs there is way better and faster out there, with more options, and your not “locked out of the cool stuff” ) THE iPHONE is as LAME as a console, and you kids keep buying them, causing other companies to follow that same business model.

STOP IT PLEASE before you ruin it for everyone, Trust me Step outside your xBOX, you will see a world of entertainment thats 1,000 times better then what your “die hard” to support.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Well DUH.

You underestimate the complexity of developing an emulator for newer hardware.

Have you taken a look at the PS2 emulator (PCSX2 or something)? It’s “good”, in the sense that you can play some games well. But performance and compatibility leaves much to be desired. I borrowed a copy of GT3 from a friend to test it out, and the thing just drags along painfully slowly. Bear in mind that the PS2 hardware is already over a decade old.

I don’t know what the status on a XBOX/360 or PS3 emulator is, but I’d guess that they are far behind on emulation fidelity. Surprisingly, though, the dolphin emulator for WII/Gamecube is working pretty well, probably due to the simplicity of the hardware.

So, although I wish I could share your optimism, I don’t think we will be seeing a decent emulator for current-gen consoles any time soon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well DUH.

All valid arguements from the past are null and void, as I can play ANY X-box, PS3, Wii title on my pc

Total and utter bullshit. You cannot play a single Xbox 360 or PS3 game on your PC. Try it. Go buy an Xbox 360 or PS3 game, put the disc into your PC, and make it run. It won’t happen. Console-to-PC ports or cross-platform releases do not even come close to your claim of “ANY X-box, PS3, Wii title”

Mike says:

Re: Well DUH.

lol if you payed $399 for your computer that doesnt say much, can you play bf3 at max settings acceptably? what about bad company 2? or crysis 2, a good machine centers around a good video card, nothing with a 128bit memory interface will max these games, I have sli gtx 295’s THATS TRUE POWER full quad sli configuration, don’t bring up your pc seriously, WE DONT CARE, and for the drm stuff, we also DONT CARE, Ive been thru 3 360’s never once did a rights transfer, and magically, all my stuff is available on the next console I get, INCLUDING ALL MY DLC, so for those of you complaining about it, go buy a dam gamecube or something, or shut the hell up

Anonymous Coward says:

Screw Microsoft. We only buy Windows (only 2 workstations out of a hundred now) because it is a necessary evil. We refuse to develop for it anymore. We refuse to buy the compiler (what a joke). Mostly we think Windows 8 is just ugly! Stupid looking. Being of the hippie persuasion the last thing I want to look at is a bunch of Squares on my desktop. Ugly!!!

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Talking about Microsoft and their annoying points thing. Anyone else tried to remove a credit card for an Xbox? You see, you can buy the stupid points all day long and you can upgrade to gold or whatever, spend money like it is going out of style. They will never ask for verification to spend money.

When you go to remove a card, there is no way to do it on the Xbox, there is also no way to do it online. The only way is to call Microsoft, and yes I mean their shitty call center in India. You then have to go through more security hoops then you would need to access a bank account. They want your gamer tag, the name on your account, answers to security questions and just about anything else they can drag out. It took me several hours just to remove my damn card from the box so they would quit charging it “for my convenience”

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Having worked for a couple credit card companies, I can tell you this much. That won’t work for certain monthly recurring transactions that are preauthorized from a previous month. I used to get angry calls quite frequently when I worked Capital One’s Investigative Solutions department (Disputes, before it got outsourced to India). People demanding to know why we were letting the merchant charge their accounts despite them having cancelled and replaced the card. The reason is that due to federal regulations, we were not legally allowed to block those transactions and had to let them follow to the new card, despite only the old card number being used for the charge. As such, this strategy might not work. Of course, it depends on how the transaction is done.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

AOL (dial-up) did that to a friend of mine many years ago who had set up his computer to automatically log in without him having to type in his password. By the time he was ready to cancel his AOL account (years later and by that time already using a separate ISP), he no longer knew his password and was told he could not cancel his AOL without it. After tons of failed email and phone call attempts to get them to shut off his account, he finally tried what I suggested, the old “cancel the card, get a new one” trick, and AOL just charged the new one. He tried to dispute it, but AOL kept coming back with “How can we be sure you are the authorized account holder if you can’t give us your user password?”

What did finally work was canceling old credit card at the old bank, and getting new account and credit card at a completely different bank (I’m sure this would work for XBox too). After that, I think they finally believed that he was who he said he was all along.

AOL sent many “We want you back!” letters to his home address with promises of 1000’s of free hours, but from what I remember him telling me, all he ever sent back in those same letters were things like “Not in Million Years” and “Go get Stuffed” in big red ink marker writing. I think a few might have been in crayon too. Ahhh, good times.

Keith Brown says:

same boat

I have 2 of each main system, after moving in wuth and then marrying my wife. Nintendo seems to be the worst, locking your purchases into a particular system, with no way to transfer. Should that system die, you’re kinda SOL. One of the Wii’s died, and i cannot put the VC games on to the other. When the Wii U launches, you can transfer to that, but both systems have to be online at the same time. Don’t forget that Nintendo has a complete list of my games on my account. You also cannot back up saved games for any game with an online component.

Sony seems to be the easiest about things. only real caveat seems to be just that an account can be logged into only one system at a time. No slow “recovery” process like XBL though. Takes seconds to switch accounts, and things seem to stay synced across machines well.

Ed C. says:

Thanks for reminding me why I don’t game on a console. I understand that many went to consoles because they were simpler than maintaining a gaming PC, but it looks like the consoles and their draconian DRM schemes are going to fix that. Since consoles also adopted the PC mentality of “do everything”, but nothing well, and ship-now, patch-later, their perceived advantages are becoming moot.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This kind of thinking just makes the problem worse. It trivialises the screwing over of paying customers and sends a clear sign to the developers that they don’t have to fix it. If they don’t like the game, they can just not buy it. It tells the developers that they can release any kind of crap they want and to hell with the customer.

Developer: “I’m not going to fix the problems. If you don’t like it you shouldn’t have bought something that you didn’t know had these problems and are now unable to return.”

Anonymous Coward says:

One form of bullshit DRM from nintendo that I hate

Is that you’re tied to nintendo devices for retro stuff despite the fact the games have been pirated for decades and despite all the awesome things customers could do with a rom, and emulator on general purpose computors.(netplay, romhacks, hires textures for games nintendo doesn’t really care about, translations ect)

Anonymous Coward says:

Multi-xbox homes are not the norm

Not to defend the Xbox DRM (or any DRM) but:

a. Game developers, NOT Microsoft, decide whether their games have local co-op or not. Mass Effect 3 is an EA game, so blame them.

b. Game developers are responsible for making sure their DLC keeps games saves backward compatible. Usually that’s why games get updates at the same time new DLC come out, so that the games can handle having/not having the new DLC. (Yes, Fable is a MS game, so that’s their bad.)

c. A multi xbox home is NOT the majority case, nor the required experience.

d. Downloadable content on the Xbox works as follows:
i. On the first console it’s downloaded to, EVERYONE can use it. If you only have one console (the 99.9% case), everything works fine.
ii. On any later consoles, the purchasing account must be signed in for the content to be available. This is so you don’t go to your friend’s house and download all your games for him to play and then leave.
iii. So the easiest solution to the poster is: user A downloads the content first to Xbox 1, then Xbox 2. User A plays on Xbox 2. Others play on whichever Xbox they want. All rules are satisfied and everyone (who’s Gold) can play. Done. Not that hard, and for the 0.1% that have multiple xboxes, it becomes second nature.
iv. A user can transfer their licenses from one console to another, in bulk. (Yes, you can only do this so often, though I think it’s once per 30 days).
vi. Yes, this means that the user must be conscious of which machine they bought and first downloaded the content on. Xbox helps this by remembering a user’s first console, and directing all purchases to it by default. The user sees “content is assigned to download to another console” in their download queue, and has the option to choose otherwise, which of course can lead to confusing situations when a user buys and downloads stuff back and forth on different consoles.
vii. Yes, I agree that “the DRM’s not that hard” doesn’t justify its existence. But then again, the article starts with the straw man of “owning multiple xboxes at once is the expectation” and then builds up from there. The overwhelming majority of users are single xbox homes, and then the DRM is essentially invisible.

As for the “buying for the spouse thing” above, see d.i. He can play it with his account just fine on the xbox she bought it on. Dumb perhaps, but so is not playing a game you paid for just cause it’s in another room.

I make no defense for the Family Gold issues.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Multi-xbox homes are not the norm

c. A multi xbox home is NOT the majority case, nor the required experience.

That’s not really a defense is it? My car model is not supposed to carry heavy weights but I can easily install the required parts and do it anyway given enough patience and routing around highly inclined roads. Because I can, I should be able to do whatever the fuck I can with anything I own. (not angry at you by the way, you are pointing important issues)

ii. On any later consoles, the purchasing account must be signed in for the content to be available. This is so you don’t go to your friend’s house and download all your games for him to play and then leave.

So I want him to try the games so he can buy later, problem? (again, I know you are pointing M$ rationale)

vii. Yes, I agree that “the DRM’s not that hard” doesn’t justify its existence. But then again, the article starts with the straw man of “owning multiple xboxes at once is the expectation” and then builds up from there. The overwhelming majority of users are single xbox homes, and then the DRM is essentially invisible.

Actually, from what I understood the expectation is to have a fully functioning product which I can do whatever the fck I want. That’s an issue alright.

As for the “buying for the spouse thing” above, see d.i. He can play it with his account just fine on the xbox she bought it on. Dumb perhaps, but so is not playing a game you paid for just cause it’s in another room.

Can they do at the same time, together, with the same license in different machines? No.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Multi-xbox homes are not the norm

Can they do at the same time, together, with the same license in different machines? No.

Yes. There are two licenses in play: one for any user on the purchasing console (whether online or not), and one for the purchasing user on any console (must be signed in online).

User A buys content on Console 1. User A then logs in to Console 2 and downloads the content. User A can play content on Console 2; Users B through Z can play content on Console 1. At the same time.

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

I see the problem.

There are people who still think of the XBox 360 as a gaming machine.

Apparently, they’ve not updated their console in a while.

Calling the Xbox 360 a gaming console is like calling a Yugo a car.

I’ve owned this console for just a hair over a year (happy anniversary!), and I can already promise Microsoft there will not be a “720” in my future.

Between the apps I don’t want, the constant ads shoved in my face, and a Live feature I have to pay for, the system makes damn sure to remind me daily “gaming” is secondary to over-priced content that one can “own” (read: access until it goes away).

Now with the first sale doctrine in their cross-hairs, going back to coloring books and crayons may be the best idea I’ve read in this thread.

That is, until it become mainstream and the [bleeps] kill it, too.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

FWIW, I own two Steam accounts. One has a paid-for version of TF2, one free. Both have paid-for versions of Killing Floor.

I am able to set up a new system, anywhere, and install Steam. Once I log into one of my accounts I can download and install any content that the account is authorized for.

Both accounts have physical access to the same content, but if account #1 owns e.g. a DLC character and account #2 doesn’t, I can’t play that character on account #2, even though it’s present on my hard drive. Log back into account #1 and there it is, fully accessible.

My first copy of KF was a gift, my second was the Gold Box (which I installed on my first account). Of course I ended up with duplicates of the game and several DLC characters, so I gifted them to my second account. (I also ended up gifting my extra copy of HL2 to the original gifter’s husband.)

I have my issues with Steam’s DRM but I have to admit that if you’re going to have it, they’ve done a pretty darned good job of making it transparent. You CAN buy stuff and give it away to other people… and they just own it.

My biggest complaint is that once you own a game, you can’t transfer it to another account; and you can’t transfer an account to another person.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Why I hate the idea of a "discless future"

My nephew came to stay with us while he went to college. He had his own Xbox. If we had a game he wanted to borrow (or vice-versa), as long as it was on a disc, there was no problem. Not so much for any DLC or other digital downloads (“Xbox Live Arcade” titles). At best, he could log in to our console with his account to play things he’d purchased.

For that matter, when my Xbox stopped reading discs and I bought a replacement console, my kids could play every single one of the disc-based games on the new console without any issue. Since I could move the hard drive from the old to the new console, all their accounts and saved games came over without any problems. For all the digital downloads I’ve purchased, though, even though the exact same file was on the hard drive, I had to log on to the Xbox website, use the “license transfer tool” to transfer the console license to the new one, and then re-download every piece of content on the new console.**

Now, the times I have seen it work like it’s supposed to, like when I’ve gone to a friend’s house, downloaded content, played it, and left; and my friend doesn’t automatically get the content for “free”. And I suppose that’s where the problem is — how do you know when Console 2 is really in the same household as Console 1, and allow content on both systems?

**This “re-download” doesn’t download the entire file, just updates the license already downloaded, so it only takes about a second. You still have to go through your download history to find the files and initiate the downloads one-by-one, though, which is the most annoying part.

wscaddie56 (profile) says:

Brother in arms

thanks for the article, my twin brother and i have 2 xboxs, a family xbox subscription and routinely buy 2 games/dlc packs to be able to fully access the online portions of games we enjoy.
all that to say this guy isn’t alone with this issue and while i realize i’m getting ripped off i have no alternative until another company comes up with a better deal.

Rekrul says:

Imagine if every building in the world was sealed air-tight and had to be supplied with air through a pipe, the way they’re now supplied with electricity. Before going outside, everyone would be required to put on a breathing helmet & oxygen tank. These helmets would need to be remotely locked in place by the Air Authority before the doors would open. Once back inside, the helmet can only be removed by being remotely unlocked by the Air Authority. Tampering with your helmet, or attempting to go outside without it would be a serious crime, as would trying to open any of your windows or drill holes in the walls to allow you to ‘steal’ air from outside. Air usage would be strictly monitored and any unusual drop in usage would be quickly investigated by the Air Police.

Sound ridiculous? That’s the way I see all these restrictions and hoops you have to jump through to use digital content from legitimate sources. They add nothing positive to the experience and only serve to needlessly complicate what should be a simple and easy process.

DataShade (profile) says:

The PC will always be the superior platform.

Except Steam isn’t actually any better than XBox Live for this sort of thing, is it? You can’t share DLC among accounts, you can’t log into multiple computers with the same account (I don’t mean you can’t play the same game in two different places, I mean if I’m downloading a 4GB game onto my laptop, I get signed out on the laptop as soon as I sign into Steam on the desktop).

Anonymous Coward says:


Linux is not all that bad for games. Ubuntu comes with over a dozen as standard, and hundreds more are available for free download. Play games for free on the computer you have already paid for. Tell M$ and the other DRM-lovers to go screw themselves. Make the existence of DRM in the product a sales killer. There is a lot out there for free and for cheap.

Live free. OK, you will not be one of the cool kids with all the latest most heavily advertised stuff. So what. But it is your computer, under your control. Nobody else should be trying to wrest that control away from you. Spend your money only with manufacturers who respect your ownership of your own equipment. Show some hostility towards the people who are trying to give you a bad deal. The nice guys are nice.

You do not have to deal with schemers. Select your friends for good character. That is a good rule for life, as well as for gaming.

PaulT (profile) says:

Can someone from TechDirt interview someone from Ouya?

“They’re touting the “open-source” console, so I have to wonder if they’ve given any real thought to family sharing and other similar matters.”

Part of the fun of open source:

1. They don’t have to. Unless they specifically program in restrictions, they don’t have to think for a moment about it. “Family sharing” really translates as “we’ll give you this concession from our DRM restrictions” – irrelevant if there is no DRM.

2. If the software truly is open source, any restrictions they did build in would be quickly and legally removed.

PC and Console gamer says:

PC gaming is swell and all but it’s a bit anti social and hardcore a lot of the time. I mean I play on my Xbox with my friends and girlfriend, 2 Xbox’s in my flat one in hers. And that’s enjoyable for the chilled out relaxing nature of it. I Unplug my USB stick go to my girlfriends and log onto her machine and hey I’m playing sofa Co-op. With my gaming rig I’d have to carry ~40kg of kit to hers to actually play in the same room. SOD THAT!

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