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Monday August 14, 2006 3:35 pm

A Look At Why Xbox Live Marketplace Licensing and DRM Doesn’t Work

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Editorial, Microsoft, Video Games

Xbox 360 DRM

A few months ago on The Bleeding Edge, we made mention of how horrible the experience of getting your Xbox 360 repaired can be as it pertains to the content you have downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace. Ben Salem over at the Xbox Team Blog wrote up an entry talking about how the licensing for Xbox Live Marketplace content works, hoping to explain why some users have problems as it pertains to the DRM implementation of the Xbox 360.

When an item is purchased and subsequently downloaded for the first time, licenses to use the downloaded content are created and passed out to two separate locations. First, a license is created and issued to the console. This license enables all accounts to use this content freely, as long as the content is being accessed from said console – any profile being used on the console will be able to use the content while on the console.
Second, a license is created and issued to the profile used to purchase the item. This license is different in that it allows the profile to use the content on whichever console it currently resides on, but only if it is connected to live. Only the signed-in account can use the paid-for content – a license would have to be purchased on that console for everyone to be able to play. This seems to be where some people are getting tripped up – bringing a profile with a license on it to another console will not give the second console a license as well.

The problem with this is that when a user has to send in their Xbox for repair (and we know a bunch of different people who have had to, including myself), it seems more often than not they are just sent a replacement unit.

Bye bye to licensing plan number one. Now only the Live account that paid for the content can access it. The profile of your spouse/children/roommate no longer has access to it. We buy every single Arcade game that comes out. When this happened to me, there were 14 Arcade games I bought that I was told by support that I would have to repurchase for each profile if I wanted them to have access to it. All because I happened to buy a faulty Xbox 360 unit. That doesn’t sound too fair. That would have cost me about $300 to repurchase all that content for my wife’s account, and the accounts of the two kids. There is no way to just log into my Xbox Live (or Windows Live) account on the Internet, and just change the serial number of the hardware that I want the games to function under. Horrible, horrible move.

Gear Live reader munkyxtc left a comment at Playfeed earlier this morning about experiencing the exact same thing, but is being given the run-around by Microsoft Xbox support. His story is an unfortunate one. We talked with Microsoft about the issue, and while we were able to get Microsoft Points credit to repurchase content, there is no solution at this time.

Let us know your thoughts on the forum.

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Forum Discussion

I am extremely upset with Xbox live. We specifically canceled my credit card on the day they said we should (12/21/06) so that we could pay for a prepaid card instead. We registered the prepaid on the same day. Now a couple weeks later, I see that they charged my card for the live xbox after all. They refuse to credit me back only saying we are now paid through '09. It really infuriates me what a rip off they are. I did not want to pay for two years. I spoke to a supervisor and he refused to credit me with the only explanation that since it was charged automatically on the same day, there is no way to reverse it. This makes me hate that company sooo much. I will never buy their crap again because it just makes everyone lazy anyway. We become a bunch of fat couch potatoes unable to move (Unless we're doing one of those dance games i guess). Has anyone else had this experience and what have they done about it? I've never heard of a company that won't credit a service within one month of it's charge. Somehow I think it's illegal.

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