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Dear Microsoft, Fix Digital Rights Issues on Xbox 360

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Dear Microsoft,

I would like to thank you for holding my downloadable content (DLC) hostage. I would also like to bring to your attention another flaw in your Digital Rights Management (DRM) model. Discussing flaws in your hardware design is a moot point these days, but it bears mentioning if your hardware did not break so often, I would not be in this sticky situation. Described below is yet another way you are hurting your loyal users who spend money well beyond buying the console and a few games.

You see, I am on my fourth Xbox 360, this one will not read discs anymore (and I had so hoped for yet another Red Ring of Death). I have gotten used to it telling me the disc is dirty, or to play the DVD, but now my 360 will not read any disc. I have used a cleaning disc, I have cleared the cache as Xbox Support has suggested – the drive is toast.

Because the DRM used on the Xbox 360 is based off of the hardware ID the content was downloaded on and one's Gamertag, I now must be online for your server to authenticate me, and unlock my content. In essence, all my DLC is being held hostage until I get online, get a new unit, or both.

Why? I am so glad you asked. After swapping my Elite hard drive to a 360 that does work, two of my Gamertags have become corrupted, seemingly in a blink of an eye. The hardware that the DRM is tied to cannot even play the games needed to use said DLC, and the Gamertags that my content is tied to are corrupt. A third Gamertag on the same hard drive, which has purchased nothing, is perfectly usable.

I’ve purchased over 70 GB of downloads; over 150 Arcade games have been reverted to demos, over 300 songs for Rock Band and Guitar Hero rendered mute, not to mention the countless other game add-ons. Thousands of dollars have been spent in the last four years on DLC alone. None of which I can use.

I could recover my Gamertag, and I could transfer the license, however we are not all made out of money and I cannot go out and buy a new Xbox 360 at present. Even if I recover my Gamertag I still would need to be online to use my digital purchases. The biggest question here is should I have to be online? Also, last I checked, you only allow license migration once a year, so by that rule I have many months to wait – as I used it when the New Xbox Experience shipped to finally fix another DRM glitch.

While I am certain you will tell me that I have the option to ship my out-of-warranty unit back to get fixed, which will cost me $100, ($120 if I do not create the ticket on your web site – nice scam ya got there), I am not paying it. At this point I would be sending in a referb to get a referb. Thanks but no thanks. I will take that $100 that I do not have and put it towards a new Xbox 360 that just might last longer than 12 months. Though considering I will be on my fifth unit in four years, I am not placing any bets.

I am honestly thinking about buying the majority of my games and DLC for my PS3 now. I have so much money invested in games like Rock Band, and Guitar Hero, however. I am not going to purchase a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 or Fallout 3 (two other games I own DLC for) for the PS3 when I already have them on the 360. But this has made me seriously re-think what console I purchase multi-platform games for.

Your Xbox 360 DRM model continues to baffle me, digital rights my ass. It took you nearly a year to fix the FUBAR with the XBLA games, SEGA games being the ones most affected. Myself, and many others, had to wait until the NXE was launched before we could rightfully use the content we paid for, years earlier, offline. Your tech support staff did not seem to "get" that. Just because your hardware is (still) failing for so many people does not mean those affected should be shut out of their digital purchases.

I only hope that the DRM you chose for your next console does not brutally punish the rights holders – your loyal customers – as your current model does, lest Sony and Nintendo turn another hardware vendor into a software publisher.

Your current double check system is broken. Lets use the hypothetical example of an Xbox 360 owner not being able to get on the Internet, another dead 360, and a corrupted profile. You may have heard of this before. In fact my issue of moving a Gamertag/hard drive/memory unit from one Xbox to another is not unique to just me.

So again I want to thank you for holding mine, and so many others, downloadable content hostage. If you were not aware of this issue, it is being discussed on your own forums, you may wish to address this problem.

Unlike a criminal holding a person hostage, I am not paying the ransom since your system is already dead.

Ken Edwards
Blogcritics Gaming Editor

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  • anonymo

    F*ck Microsoft