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 PiÃıata 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.

20 Comments

I ran into this same problem when my 360 needed repair. While I got to keep my hard drive, Microsoft sent me a refurb 360. The new 360 has a different serial number and of course none of my downloaded content would load without me being signed into Xbox Live.

I’ve just put up with it as I didn’t have much downloaded before my 360 crapped out, but I can see where new Elite owners are going to run into a major problem.

Why the holy hell would downloaded content be restricted to a single 360? That’s utter and complete bullshit.

Let’s say I wanted to show a buddy the Rainbow Six Red Pack on my 20G HDD I’ve taken over to his pad, but to my (and his) dismay theres no possible way I can show him without operating the original console it was downloaded on. So what the shit am I supposed to do? Lug my console around for the sake of showing people what I’ve downloaded? Complete dog feces.

(Elite Opinion) MS had more than enough time to work out tech kinks for the console re-release, theres no excuse for them to give existing 360 owners a hard time with transitioning for whatever use ( transferring video, music, DL content).

@Joe Jacobs: Hmmm, I wouldn’t say it fails and this issue is not exclusive to the Elite – it’s been a known issue with the Xbox 360’s DRM since day one. We’re only hearing about it more now because of all the people upgrading now. Aside from this issue, I’d say the Elite puts Xbox 360 at the top of the console ladder, if it wasn’t already there. 😛

@Ronald Heft: Funny – I almost said you’re lucky your console crapped out on you early then. That’s just not right.

@Lorne: I’m not sure about game add-ons and if this same situation applies. I would assume it does to prevent people from being able to transfer over their downloaded content to a friend’s console.

In any case, you would still be able to play your add-on content on a friend’s console if you were connected to Xbox Live. Same with the XBLA games, but your friend would see them as trials.

It seems to me that they are going to regulate this shit so much to try to avoid "misuse" of downloaded content that it is going to cause many more problems then it ever dreams of solving, judging by all of the unresolved issues that have come up already since the 360’s release.

Oh, and happy birthday Matt.

SO does this mean that all the XBLA games I’ve downloaded will have to be played by my profile (assuming I upgrade to the new drive)? Could this be Microsofts intent?

As far as I know, it’s per console, not per hard drive. So if, for example, you upgrade from a 20GB hard drive to a 120GB hard drive on a premium Xbox, you won’t have any issues with the DRM.

Well.. the thing you wrote about isn’t the only fucked up. I just found out, that I can’t legally use Xbox Live, because it’s not available in my country (though the console is). I must say that I am really dissapointed…. though DOA4 and THAW are awesome 😉

Spring dashboard update is supposed to be coming out this week … maybe a fix will be in there. Oh right but I won’t find out because my console has been away for over 3 weeks now for repair. If I miss Halo 3 Beta … someone is going to pay.

Pete, read the part that Matt quoted; the DRM is dependant on the computer itself, so changing the hard disk doesn’t matter.

Pretty much unnecessary to add this, but yes, this kind of DRM is completely stupid!

I’m hoping MS changes their mind after lots of people complain about it after going Elite, or having their boxes break down on them.

I myself have not encountered these problems, hence why I don’t have a elite system yet. The normal $400 version fits my needs and nothing is wrong, so why fix it?

I have the same problem. My 360 craped out, I received refurbed 360. I kept Hard drive. now I have to be online to use downloaded content. This sucks huge and the bastards at microsoft better fix this shit. I go away every summer and the place I go to has NO Internet. You would think with all the people working at Microsoft issues like these would never happen. And I Guarantee they could fix this issue if they would get off their asses and FIX IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just a little FYI – I experienced this same problem. However, there IS a solution, albeit you need some serious patience. Call the 1-800-4-MY-XBOX. If you did an RMA through Microsoft, they’ll have the old and new serial numbers.. otherwise, you have to fax proof of purchase. Then, you create another xbox live silver account.

They’ll then "escalate your issue to a supervisor" who calls back in about 7-10 days and will credit this new account with the points for the games you purchased. Finally, you can re-purchase the games with the credited points under the new account, effectively activating the games on the new console.

It’s a huge pain, and if you get someone in India, hang up and just call back until you get someone who speaks fluent, proper American English. However, it CAN be done.

I just don’t understand why they can’t do this via the transfer cable (activate a new serial number and deactive the original).. but, that’s a different issue I suppose. [I suppose this way you could ghost the hard drive manually, transfer the data, and then ghost it back and have the game installed on two consoles that way. But sheesh..]

@Mike Pollock: That there, is one great bit of intel. Thanks for sharing! Although, said process is still quite a pain in the ass – having to re-download everything from the Marketplace. It’s far better than the current "solution", if you can call it that.

Now that I’ve got the HD DVD drive, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t itching for an Elite for the HDMI. But then again, I’d still need a 1080p TV to fully get the goods.

Actually, you don’t have to re-DOWNLOAD everything.. you just have to re-activate it. The game and game saves, etc. are still on the hard drive. You simply log into the new silver account with credited points, select each game, then select "unlock full game", and 5 seconds later it’s back to a full version on the new console.

Two other things I forgot to mention:

– They can automatically credit you the points for games you purchased, but anything over 1600 points, they’ll give you prepaid card codes and just credit you the difference. In other words, say you spent 2400 points. They’ll automatically credit the account and then give you a prepaid 1600 points code. Why they do it that way is a complete mystery to me, but it’s how it’s always done.

– If you redeemed a prepaid redemption code for a game (i.e. Bankshot Billiards, Uno, Geometry Wars, etc)…meaning you had a 25-digit code that activated a game without points… you MUST tell them that when you open your ticket because they don’t credit those points. Rather, they’ll give you a new code to reactivate the game. However, if you don’t specifically tell them "I had a prepaid code for xxx game", they won’t give you a way to activate it when they finally get back to you a week or 2 later.

In summary, I’ve done this twice — it’s a major pain — but at least there’s SOME way to move purchased xbox live content to a new console. Just bring a high level of patience to set up the ticket with customer service, and then be prepared to wait a while for a callback.

Sorry for the double post — just wanted to also comment on the HDMI issue. I have a 1080p TV myself and would love to have that HDMI port as well. However the REAL bummer is that, without HDMI or VGA (which my TV also lacks, of course.. just my luck..) the console doesn’t upconvert standard DVDs either. What a waste, too, given that the 360, unlike the PS3, actually has a scaling chip built in to do it.

Matt: If you have a VGA connector on your TV, you can use that in lieu of HDMI — it’ll give you 1080p capability and DVD upconversion…

[…] – getting all of my XBLA games, themes and gamer pics working for all profiles on the new console. I’ve written about this at length before, and a comment was made by a reader explaining a process to bypass the bullshit […]

So Mike, once you go through all of that (my customer rep today had no idea of any of this, sheesh), will you only be able to access your content on the new Silver account? Because that would suck, I want my Achievements on my Gold acco.

Today I was told repeatedly by an MS customer rep that the XBLA purchases relate in no way to me being online or not. I even brought up them being tied to the console itself, but I was brushed off. Goddamn this can be… so… frustrating.

For those of you experiencing this issue for the first time, add your voice to the numbers that have existed since the first refurb/repair was completed back in Nov/Dec of 200—5.

The short-sightedness of MS’s DRM implementation is astounding. They instituted a system which could ONLY work as intended if there was a 0.000000% failure rate instead of the (estimated) 30% or so that exists currently.

To read more about the issue, visit Parallax Abstraction’s GREAT summary of the issue at the blogspot link above and sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/fixxblm (also linked to from PA’s site).

To see the full extent of the problem and read about the various applications of the "points after repair" Silver Dummy Account workaround, go to http://forums.xbox.com/1159815/ShowPost.aspx

You’ll quickly realize what a snafu this really is since Mike Pollock’s story is definitely a deviation from the norm (even though he’s gotten through it twice now).

Good luck all! Get the word out! It’s the only way MS will eventually admit their mistake with the DRM like the recent build quality admission.

I wish I had better understood the DRM woes before buying an elite. I gave my old refurb 360 to a friend. I called saturday about seeing what could be done to get my xbox live games to work offline on my NEW 360 elite. I was told they would only help me if I still had my refurbished 360, and would only help me with that console. I wasn't liking what Francis had to tell me so I asked to speak to his supervisor. Christine wasn't any better. Somehow I was wrong in buying a new console. That someone could be playing those games on my account offline on the refurbished. Not that they were accusing me of that mind you! Never mind that I formatted it, and gave it to a friend back home. A single parent who couldn't afford it. Never mind that I talked them into going gold, and buying some of the same xbox live games I had so we could play together. Thus gaining them a new customer.

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