Let’s go back to March 27 – the day Microsoft officially announced the Xbox 360 Elite. I say officially, because the Elite was probably the worst kept secret in recent gaming history. With the various online news outlets spouting rumors of a black, upgraded console with HDMI and a 120GB HDD regularly over the course of many months leading up to the Elite’s unveiling, it was no surprise when MS pulled back the curtain to show us what they had in store. And since there had been such a big lead up to the Elite, I had one question on the tip of my tongue that I was dying to get answered. How are they going to handle the rights issue with downloaded content for those that upgrade to the Elite?
Since the 120GB HDD can be purchased separately, this question also applies to those that require the extra storage space. Not long after the big announcement, a solution was brought to light. Problem being, this solution only shows how broken the Xbox 360’s DRM truly is and pretty much fucks over existing users in a way that only Microsoft can. Taken from the Q&A posted at Gamerscore Blog (official Microsoft Xbox 360 blog)…
You should also know that licenses for downloaded content like Xbox LIVE Arcade games and TV shows from Xbox LIVE are tied to the console they were originally downloaded on.
- This means that while all of your Xbox LIVE Arcade games and TV shows will transfer, you will have to be connected to Xbox LIVE (to verify your identity) in order to access that content.
- This process is permanent, so do not transfer your data if it is important to you to be able to access this content offline.
- Consumers that purchase the standalone 120GB HDD will not experience any change in the way they access their data online or offline since they are using the same console and only upgrading to a larger hard drive.
Now, this might not seem like a huge deal and it’s definitely not the end of the world. But it is a massive inconvenience if nothing else, as people are finding out already. I have my Xbox 360 online, but there are times when I might jump on to play a quick game and it’s not connected. I’m currently sharing a network drop at my entertainment unit between my Xbox 360 and my Xbox with Xbox Media Center, which we use to watch downloaded tv shows regularly. Often enough, I will sit down after a long day and fire up my Xbox 360, only to find the Xbox currently has the network connection. Depending on my mood, I may or may not get up and switch the cable over. More often not, unless the game has leaderboards that I care to be ranked on. But if I had migrated my data to an Elite or the 120GB HDD, I wouldn’t have a choice in the matter.
There’s also another area that I suspect is affected by the DRM, although I haven’t seen any mention of it recently. Back in December, I picked up a second Xbox 360 to use for capturing images for DashboardThemes.com. Since I painted my console black many moons ago, I thought it would be fun to have a standard premium Xbox 360 in the living room for a while. It wasn’t long before Hannah (my daughter) asked why she isn’t seeing her Viva PiÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€šÃ‚±ata theme any longer. Upon further investigation, I discovered that none of the content I had downloaded for my wife and daughter were accessible… to them at least. I was able to see and use the content just fine. Having moved my HDD over from my old console, I was pretty baffled by this. Deanna (my wife) found out that she no longer had access to the full Xbox Live Arcade games when she tried playing Zuma, which she was playing regularly until I made the switch. For both my wife and daughter, all XBLA games were in trial mode and all downloaded themes and gamer pics were MIA.
I did some digging on various forums and found a few people with the same issue, but no resolution or even an answer as to why this had happened. Others had even had their consoles replaced, only to find their downloaded (and paid for) content was no longer accessible to other profiles on their Xbox 360. I decided to go straight to the source and emailed Xbox 360 tech support to find out if there was anything I could do to resolve this. I received no reply. It wasn’t long after that I came across a statement similar to that above which explains that downloaded content is tied to the console that it is initially downloaded to. And apparently, even when connected to Xbox Live, other profiles on your console are SOL. That right there, is absolute bullshit. I had no choice but to go back to using my black console in the living room, but in the mean time I had purchased a couple XBLA games. Now, there’s no way my wife or daughter can play them unless one of them purchases the games in question themselves.
Again, I’m not 100% sure that this is an issue with the Elite/120GB HDD, but since MS shipped this new hardware without resolving the other DRM issues, I can only assume this one also remains. If someone out there has an Elite or has upgraded their HDD and could confirm, it would be greatly appreciated. Whatever the case may be, I’m still shocked and utterly disappointed that this issue even exists. I had this conversation with a buddy shortly after the Elite was announced at which point he said, “There’s no way Microsoft would ship new hardware without first coming up with a solution for existing customers.” Well, unfortunately for us, they did.