UPDATE: Microsoft May Slowly Be Fixing Their Broken XBOX DRM

A ray of hope from reader James—Microsoft was able to fix his broken XBOX Live account. Are they getting their act together? Maybe?

Evening, Consumerist Editors (and hopefully readers)!

I’m sending this in due to my experience with XBOX LIVE Support and Microsoft’s broken XBOX LIVE DRM (Originally posted here: https://consumerist.com/355519/microsoft-has-no-answer-for-their-broken-xbox-live-drm).
I too, like Kevin, sent in my XBOX360 for repair after the RRoD, and was sent a brand new XBOX360 as a replacement. Now, mind you, I had my XBOX360 registered on their website for warranty information, so I could see when they sent a brand new one, because the Serial Number on my warranty information was updated before they even had the new box on the truck to me. This was late December / early January.

So, when Kevin’s story broke, I decided to check into whether or not my content purchased on the old XBOX360 could be accessed while I was offline, or by another GamerTag on the same console. Nope, it couldn’t.

So I called XBOXLIVE support in February, and got the same runaround as Kevin- re-download it, restore your GamerTag, etc, etc, etc. They never once offered the re-licensing until I specifically asked for the points to re-download my content. Once they did, I got the same spiel as others in the previous thread; for those that weren’t keeping up, Microsoft could “fix” the problem by re-licensing my old content to my new XBOX360’s serial number. Of course, this lengthy process (CTRL + H being a difficult task for their XBOX LIVE department, but common knowledge to their warranty division) would take 20 – 30 days. Of course, having no other alternative, I told them to go ahead and do it and get it resolved already.

This was 32 days ago at this point. Monday morning I get a call from an unknown number, and the message on my voicemail was from XBOX LIVE, letting me know that the re-licensing has been resolved, and all I need to do is re-download my older purchased content to the new XBOX360.

Lo and behold, it works. And I don’t even have to delete the old content. Just go under Account Management, then Download History, find the content and choose the “Download Again” option, and there it is, available for use online, offline, and on any GamerTag on the console.

So I just figured I’d drop this to the Consumerist to let you guys know that Microsoft might finally be getting something right.

Or maybe their XBOX LIVE Department took a class in Microsoft Office and learned Find & Replace.



Edit Your Comment

  1. outinthedark says:

    Hey just to note this will not work for new consoles. This only works for refurbished or replaced consoles from Microsoft as well as replaced under warantee from Best Buy, GameStop, etc.

    I am still getting nowhere as I went out and upgraded to the Halo 3 edition with the HDMI upgrade.

    What about us? What about those that upgraded to the Elite?

    There is still no resolution for us. I was told I am pirating my content if they re-licensed to my new console.

    I just want my d*mn games back when I’m not offline and available to any user on my console.

  2. Sasquatch says:

    This is great news. I have all of the 4th season of Lost on my
    Xbox360, and I would hate to lose them once this one inevitably RRODs
    on me.

  3. Erwos says:

    To be fair, the DRM wasn’t broken – it was behaving exactly as it should. Microsoft just didn’t anticipate the number of console replacements when designing it.

  4. Starsmore says:

    @outinthedark: Well, I can’t speak to that.. the original issue was what happens to your content when Microsoft sends you a new console for one reason or another, and that’s what I was following up on.

    I suppose the logic would be that the original terms for the content was “unlimited use on the console that purchased it, or on the GamerTag that did so..” so when Microsoft replaces the console, they need to fix the licensing to uphold the terms. But you are chosing to upgrade, so that’s a different matter…

    At least that’s what I got off the top of my head… does sound pretty fishy that they said that you’d be “pirating” the content… were you talking with the US or India techs?

  5. outinthedark says:

    @outinthedark: I ment to say when I’m not signed into xbox live or “online” and available to any user as it was originally when I downloaded the content [IE my siblings, who have their own profile, playing content I purchased with my profile].

  6. outinthedark says:

    @Starsmore: I was talking to the US techs last night [at least I think so].

    I was just stating it that the only way the re-licensing works is for those that do not upgrade like me. I wasn’t saying your follow up was incorrect just missing some information [I guess?].

    At the time the refurb console that came back to me did not have HDMI nor did it have the upgrades to prevent RROD again [they upgraded heat-sincs made processor sizes smaller to generate less heat…you can find ways to find out this info from Ben Heck without opening your console]

    I cannot even access some games when I am signed into Xbox Live. I still have to “re-download” them so that I can “unlock the full game” every time I want to play them.

    Btw great update…I just wished this helped me…funny the timing too…

  7. akumadiavolo says:

    So many retards…Xbox DRM is not broken, this is exactly how it is supposed to work. People should know that being as it is in the EULA. I don’t think MS should go out of their way to do this for people since it is all put out there up front.

  8. adamsummers says:

    Wow, you got lucky. I’ve been waiting for close to six months now for them to relicense my DRM broken content. In the mean time, they have also tried to fraudulantly close my BBB case twice (case # 22144179). Last I heard from them (about two or three weeks ago), I was told there was no solution, and I would have to repurchase everything. I guess I need to find whatever CSR you spoke to.

  9. jtheletter says:

    @akumadiavolo: The DRM is broken in CONCEPT not EXECUTION. The idea that someone has paid for content, MS acknowledges they’ve paid for it, and the fact that the data is technically capable of being reinstated (and yet isn’t) – is what is broken.
    The ability of MS to lock you out of your own system works perfectly, and so yes the DRM functions in that respect. But only in Bizarro World is that a good thing for US the customers.

  10. DRM is inherently broken.

  11. Wubbytoes says:

    I need to get this done too, I had the RROD last fall and I can’t play my arcade games offline on the replacement console that MS sent me.

  12. outinthedark says:

    @Wubbytoes: If you still have that refurb console give them a call. It will take [hopefully] a month and you should be good as new…that is until you get your second RROD…

  13. Leiterfluid says:

    @jtheletter: I agree. The problem is the whole issue of DRM is based on the idea that people will steal content. Rather than punishing the few that do, Microsoft needs to come up with a better, more secure method of allowing users to transfer owned content.

    And for the record, to suggest that all it takes to update your purchase history information is to take “a class in Microsoft Office and learned Find & Replace” just shows that most people don’t understand or appreciate the complexity behind the Xbox Live service.

  14. axiomatic says:

    @BayStateDarren: DRM is inherently broken.


    I agree!

  15. WEGGLES90 says:

    Doesn’t help me. Bought an American Points card (as they are the same price for more points), and no where on the card did it say it wouldn’t work in Canada. So it doesn’t work. MS says make an alt US account, and you can use the stuff on your Canadian account. Now, get my 360 replaced, I can use it on the US account only, not the Canadian account (which is REALLY great for things like Oblivion add ons, and Symphony of the Night) Since I can technically still use it, they have no plans on fixing the problem. By following all of MS’s instructions, I’m out $20 in DLC… :

  16. LordOfAllGeeks says:

    I don’t like the fact of how much control Microsoft has over you downloaded (paid for) items. I also don’t trust storing things in a hard drive primarily, a million things can go wrong with it and you loose all your expensive content. That is why your are able to save content from your computer onto a disk. I would always prefer disk to digital download.

  17. CommanderTim says:

    The way I reported to fix this last August on my show was even easier than bitching at some person on the phone.


  18. @BayStateDarren: DRM is inherently broken.

    That statement reminds me of when I went on a karma-whoring binge over at Slashdot:

    (Score:3, Insightful)
    All DRM is inherently unbeneficial. Systems such as Pallidum only collude the issue by pertorting to offer benefits to the end user…. Litigation is where the Copywrite battle is fought, and it should have remained in the first place. [slashdot.org]

    Ahh the memories. Fun times were had writing incoherent, nerdword-laden posts to draw out drones and karma points. (Note: I agree that DRM is lame.)

  19. xvitium says:

    Umm… this is not new. If you go to xbox.com then choose support. the first item is…Xbox 360: Using your downloaded content after repair/refurbishment.

    in fact every repaired console has its licenses switched by Microsoft when replaced. I recivied a brand new unit and all my old games work perfectly offline.

  20. Divalent says:

    I love the lack of committment in the title. Since the issue was first brought to their attention soon after launch, yeah “slowly” is right. I have a problem with “fixing” since mere acknowledgement is an issue and there is only a semblance of a true fix.

    Why must the user wait so long? Why does the user have to initiate the process? Why doesnt the process happen transparently, rapidly, and effectively?

    As to why this is no “fix”… How exactly does one redownload content that was never available on XBLM (contest prizes) or available only limited times (GoW Emergence Day stuff, or stuff from Halo 3 launch week)? They aren’t in your download history, take a look.

  21. xvitium says:


    Important Information About Your Downloaded Content After Console Repair/Refurbishment

    Notice to customers who have had their Xbox 360 consoles serviced by Microsoft: If you previously downloaded content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace prior to your console service, you need to connect to Xbox LIVE to restore the licenses for that content on this console. If you don’t, you’ll only be able to use that content when signed in to Xbox LIVE with the profile that originally downloaded the content.

    To restore your licenses:

    1. Attach your hard drive or memory unit.
    2. Turn on the console.
    3. Sign in to Xbox LIVE with the gamer profile that originally downloaded the content.
    4. Go to Xbox LIVE Marketplace and select Account Management, Download History.
    5. Select an item and then select Download Again.
    6. Repeat step 5 for each item in your download history.

    After you download your content again, anyone on this console can use it, whether you’re signed in to Xbox LIVE or not.

    License restoration will only work on the console as returned to you by Microsoft’s service center.

    If you need further assistance contact Customer Support.

  22. Ken Edwards says:

    I have the same problem as outinthedark. My referb/replaced Premium was a complete POS (not another RRoD but drive issues, freezes, etc) so I went and bought an Elite. My Sega XBLA games are now only playable online.

    I contacted the developers (Foundation 9) and they have told me it is a glitch with the Sega XBLA games but they would not be fixing it unless Microsoft and Sega commissioned the bug fix.

    When pressing MS and Sega for more info on the matter, I got no response, on multiple tries.

    Using the Transfer cable to transfer all the files (and license) to the Elite 120 GB drive worked just fine, save for the Sega XBLA games.

    But since I “willingly” (Xbox Level 3 support statement) upgraded to an Elite, there was nothing that Xbox support could do about my issue. After hearing that — and going through hell to get to a level 3 tech! — I went to Sega PR which got me to Foundation 9.

    To this day they have been the only ones to give me any bit of real information regarding the DRM on the 360.

    I have been meaning to write an article on this for Blogcritics, but, well, have not had the time.

  23. GOVATENT says:

    WTF? I tried to submit the same story back in January and they did not listen. I am a very upset reader consumerist. At least guy waited only 30 days. I waited for 8 months till they called me.

  24. outinthedark says:

    This process is indeed new. That is the full manual license transfer. The previous way of “re-downloading” the material now works if they transfer it over to the refurb console correctly. In many cases and even in the Supervisor’s words I spoke with 2 nights ago. It doesn’t always work and the process is flawed.

    @Ken Edwards:
    I got the same speil since I willingly upgraded I am SOL [for now at least]. I find the only reason is because of piracy. I have a new console Microsoft. Get over it and transfer me the licenses. I promise you I don’t even know how I can pirate my XBLA games…I would just like them back.

    I think I am going to try what you did and e-mail the companies who made the games. It’s going to be a long e-mail list…

    XBL tech support got back to me early this morning with a generic ‘We’re looking into your concern’. At least it wasn’t copy and paste [His misspelled transferred!].

  25. murph says:

    supposedly, my licenses are transferred but the content (Rock Band in particular) still doesn’t work. I was told I need to delete my gamer profile and then re-recover it again. However, from previous experience I know that I will lose most of my saved games if I do this. The solution according to MS – is to buy a memory card and transfer my profile and game saves to this device before recovering the GT. I refuse to go out and spend $45-50 just to fix this issue. At this point (almost 4 months later), I’d almost prefer if they just deleted the content from the account so I could buy it again.

  26. JackB99 says:

    I know a bunch of people, who’ve had their Arcade games tagged to new 360’s. I think they have to do it manually by typing in the new 360 id into a database.

    It works, you just have to call and ask them to do it.

  27. outinthedark says:

    For anyone that is interested I am going to take the advice Ken Edwards mentioned and shoot off an e-mail to the Publishers, Developers, and really any Xbox higher ups as well.

    I am going to go ahead and document everything and try to get some kind of resolution.

    If anyone is interested head over to 360Voice forums [I may post over on the Xbox.com forums as well] and check out my story as it unfolds. I’m set up a quick side blogger page as well.



  28. Nekura20x6 says:

    I’ve had a case open since ** AUGUST ** for this very thing. I also currently have active complaints open against Microsoft with the Better Business Bureau and the Washington State Attorney General’s office over this.

    I’m so incredibly angry that this is being resolved for other people and they can’t seem to anything in my case.

    If anyone from Microsoft is reading, it’s case number 1045527374.