Xbox 360, DRM, and Why I Can’t Play What I Paid For

Microsoft STILL has yet to fix their DRM licensing issues for Xbox Live Marketplace downloads, locking many people out of the content they’ve paid for. So when your 360 gets the RRoD, they will fix it, but in the process break everything you’ve downloaded from XBLM, leaving it to you to spend months on the phone with XBL Support. Here’s what I’ve had to go through so far:
A few months ago (Nov. 7th) my Xbox got the RRoD, and I sent it in to be repaired. After a few weeks, I got it back, fixed, but now everything that I’d bought and downloaded from Marketplace won’t run if I’m not signed in with my primary gamertag. This included at least 15 Arcade games, and multiple game-addons. At least $200 worth of purchases. OXM recently had an article on how it was their primary complaint with the console.
So not only did my Xbox break, but after the “fix” I’ve now lost functionality on about $200 worth of purchases. It’s very frustrating that in a home with multiple gamertags that used to have access to all the arcade games I’ve paid for, they now don’t because of poor DRM management.
The handling of this error has been less than satisfactory. When I called Xbox support Dec. 6th about this, I was told my downloads would be fixed in 20 days, max, and to call back if it hadn’t been fixed by then. After almost 30 nothing had changed. On Jan. 2nd I called and was told that now it might be fixed on the 12th. Maybe. So now my Xbox hasn’t been fully functional for over 2 months, and to top it off, all I’m getting for my troubles is an “I’m sorry” from a call center worker, not even an explanation why they blew their first deadline. After asking how they would compensate me for these months that my Xbox or downloads don’t work as intended, they said they couldn’t do anything for me, and actually hung up on me.
I brought my Xbox to my family’s over Christmas, but I couldn’t show them any of the cool arcade games, themes, downloaded game content or videos because all of this content is completely broken without the internet. I had to explain to everyone that my Xbox broke, and then Microsoft broke the games in the repair process. That doesn’t seem like a good way to get people excited about the product, and definitely doesn’t make me very happy.
At this point, I’m going to think twice before spending money on Marketplace, and I’ve warned coworkers and friends about how this repair has been handled.

You can read about other people’s woe’s here, here, here, here, hereetc….
Whenever Major Nelson, Xbox spokesperson, posts about a new arcade game, the comments are filled with complaints about customers being locked out of their bought content due to poor DRM management.

UPDATE (01-13-08): I called 1800-4MY-XBOX again, to see if there were any status updates. After spending a while trying to get Tier 1 support to transfer me to a supervisor, I spoke with a “Carlos” who tried telling me about licensing and why my games don’t work (duh). He also told me he had no authority to issue any sort of compensation (even though a previous Tier 1 support person told me Tier 2 could do this.) He finally looked up the status of my licensing transfer, and actually told me it was 97% done! He told me that, by tomorrow morning, I would be getting a call-back, telling me I could finally re-download my games/ add-ons, etc.
He PROMISED, over and over that I would receive this call, and that the person calling would be able to issue me compensation. We shall see!
Who knows if this is them just blowing their deadline by a few days, or if it is because this story made front page of Digg. This whole process still needs to be fixed. I shouldn’t have to do a single thing to have my games working. It should have been automatically done when they repaired my console.

UPDATE (01-14-08): No call from Xbox Live as Carlos had promised. I had to give “Andrew” all of my information, even last 4 digits of my CC# before he would transfer me to his supervisor. Once he did, she had no more information, and no idea why “Carlos” promised me what he did, and had no clue where he got the 97% done figure. Guess it was made up. She wouldn’t give me any other information or dates, but told me she marked down that “Carlos” had lied to me.

Nov. 7th
Xbox get RRoD, and I send off the Xbox and get it repaired.
Dec. 6th
1 hour call
Primary Gamertag: agdtinman
Told games would work in 15-20 days (Dec 21st-26th) Told I would get a call back when it was updated. Wasn’t ever called, games still don’t work correctly.
Jan. 2nd
45 minute calls total (after being hung up on after a 30 min call)
Found out a service request put in by Steven Davis (works at Microsoft) Dec 12th.
Was told it would be ANOTHER 30 days past that date before they started working.
Jan. 12th
Arcade games still don’t work if not connected to the internet, on ANY gamertag, even the one I bought them with. Which makes the current Xbox Live downtime even more frustrating.
This is all in addition to multiple emails back and forth that didn’t amount to anything other than “we can’t help you, call Xbox Support”.
Jan. 13th
45 minute call
Called and immediately asked for Tier 2 support. After hassling with Tier 1 for a few minutes, I was transfered fairly quickly to “Carlos” who PROMISED over and over that my licensing transfer would definitely be fixed by the morning of Jan. 14th and that I would receive a call-back then and they’d be able to issue some sort of compensation.
Jan. 14th
40 minute call
No callback. Called and was forced to give “Andrew” on Tier 1 support ALL my information again, even CC# before he would think of transfering me to Tier 2. Spoke with an “Ella” who didn’t have any other dates, or information for me. Decided to email the fine folks at Microsoft’s Gamerscore Blog with the run-down and history of the issue.
Jan. 15th
Resent email to Gamerscore Blog, Major Nelson, and possibly to 3 of the top executives at Microsoft and Xbox (if I got their emails correct).
Jan. 17th
John from Xbox support called (866-506-3826), and said they’d received my email and that he’d be personally looking into the issue. He gave me his number and extension and said that he would be sending out some emails and finding out what’s happening, and said he would call be in the first half of next week (Jan 21st-23rd).
Jan. 25th
John still hadn’t called back, so I called and left a message, and he didn’t call back all day.
Jan. 28th
John finally called back, a week after he said he would, and told me he didn’t have any updates, but he was still looking into things, and to keep trying deleting my content and redownloading it to see if it was fixed.
Jan 29th
John called again and said my content was fixed. He said they would not offer my any compensation for the hassle, the time that my content hasn’t worked correctly or the time that I’ve spent on the phone trying to get this issue resolved. I came home and tried to delete/redownload the content, and it still does not work correctly. Now even John’s lied to me.

40 Responses to “Xbox 360, DRM, and Why I Can’t Play What I Paid For”

  1. PerfectCr says:

    I wrote about this issue on my blog too, it’s just HORRIBLE situation.,-Wheres-my-offline-Content.html

  2. Kevin says:

    Yeah, my console RROD in November 2006. I got my console back pretty fast and immediately noticed this issue. It took a dozen phone calls and 3 months (if I remember correctly) for them to issue me points on which I had to re-buy the games on a new silver account. So, now I have games purchased under TWO accounts. When I need to get my 360 repaired again, I am afraid I will have to go through the same 3 month process to get points to buy on a THIRD account?
    I can FULLY appreciate their need for DRM on these games, but the inability to transfer to another system is incredibly user-hostile. I should be able to or call in and transfer all my games from system X to system Y, espeically after I have sent a system in for repair and they KNOW what my previous system # was and my new system # is. Better yet, it should be an AUTOMATIC process while my system is in for repair.
    Not to mention, I should be able to buy a replacement 360 (say, one with an HDMI port) and be able to permanently transfer my games. Heck, “disc” games will happily work on both systems.
    One final though. When you buy an Xbox 720, I doubt your XBLA games will work at all. Don’t throw away your 360 and hope it never breaks.

  3. Dan says:

    I got the RRoD yesterday, tried all the unplugging and stuff, and the process they tell you to go through. I got pissed off a little while later and kicked it. After kicking it, i tried to turn it on, and everything was back to normal. An xbox is like a bad wife, just slap it around a couple times and it does what you want it to. This was thrilling for me because i was not in the mood to be without my xbox for weeks on end.

  4. ffio says:

    I feel your pain dood. Here is how I got more than compensated for lost content:

  5. ubadojw1 says:

    The sad thing is this can actually be a really easy fix if MS just worked on it. All you would have to do is when you got your repaired Xbox360 if you reconnect your HD and then re-download the content you have purchased. Since you are able to re-download content already purchased it and not pay for it again, it would make sense to just issue a new DRM tag or reassign it to the current gamertag/Xbox SN#.

  6. Mecandes says:

    I had the same thing happen. Suddenly my wife and kids could no longer play all the games we bought with their own gamertags. The workaround was a pain, and took a few months to resolve: In the end we had to create a NEW gamertag, and Microsoft gave me a bunch of convoluted codes to credit that gamertag’s account with points for the value of my previous purchases; and then I had to download them again to activate them for all users of my current console. Of course, if this console ever dies, we’ve got to do that all over again.

  7. nick says:

    same problem here, only they told me they had actually LOST the records of my console being repaired at the repair center and asked me for the reference numbers from months ago. They told me they would call me back in two days, it’s been over a week now and when I call back they say that they will call me when they learn something. WTF?!
    Can someone please get me a number for corporate? I am sure that if we start calling the suits we’ll see some progress

  8. Alex says:

    I can’t understand how Bill Gates can say on last CES that Xbox 360 is the most reliable console in this generation. Shame on him!

  9. Jeremy Wood says:

    man am i glad to read about others experiencing this. OK, get this – i wrote a letter and mailed it to microsoft corporate about this a few months back after having the same troubles. here’s what happened in my case:
    After 2-3 months of support calls, someone finally told me that all they had to do was update the hardware id associated with my content to my new console’s id. easy enough fix. Except that when they pulled up my account, they could only see that i had licenses for content I had downloaded since having the new console. weird huh? when im logged into the marketplace, i can see that i have licenses, but MS cant.
    So I wrote them about the problem, and finally got someone at corporate to call me. get this – the guy said he could fix this for me, but requested my email address and email account password to do it. this jerk actually expected me to give him and his team the login credentials to my personal email account, the one that was on file in my gamertag. I went round and round with him for nearly an hour and they would not budge – said the only way they could confirm that i had the licenses was to be able to log into my gamertag themselves and see it.
    Is it just me or is that not a ludicrous request? so, ive written again, and mailed copies of the entire chain of correspondance to the attorneys general of both Washington and my home state hoping i’ll get some traction on this.

  10. attriel says:

    My games have been MIA since July. Took until october for me to finally beat it through supports head that it wasn’t an issue of a corrupt game :/
    I’ve gotten the “30 days” thing twice. Once in october, and again xmas eve when they called me back about it finally :o I’m not holding my breath

  11. Eric says:

    Same problems here…I should have known when I bought a Microsoft product this would happen. They are good at promising the world but always including a million bugs. I’m at 3 months and still don’t have my stuff resolved. But thanks for the info.

  12. stuart says:

    This issue is such bullshit. I had the same shit happen and it took me almost two months to get a dam return box to just send my box in to get repaired. They said they lost my order and i got pissed and asked for the manager and they went off saying they were sorry and they would over night my box. Little did i know a week later i got my return box and it will now probably be two to three weeks before i get anything back. I will be about three to four months with out my xbox. With the failure rate so high on these 360’s Microsoft should be taking care of there customers a lot better or there wont be many of us left gettting fuc@#$ around by there stupid games!

  13. lol says:

    That’s ust fun:D
    Wen you people stop buying that crap? DRM’s a joke!
    Funniest thing here is fact that you actually BOUGHT it!

  14. peeweejd says:

    I had a similar thing. My 360 is out of warrnty and broke the night before we were having a party. So we bought an Elite.
    I made a thread abou my problems here
    and made a post about it here
    we need to make a big stink about this.

  15. alan fraser says:

    Same issue here. I’ve gone insane trying to get this resolved.
    The first guy told me I would have to re-buy all of my content.
    Then when I told him I was recording the call he told me I was violating federal law and could no longer talk to me.
    Then the usual runaround about 30 days.
    When I called them on it after 31 days they said they had NEVER said it would take only 30 days, but rather had said it would be a minimum of 30 days. So basically I was lying…problem with that was I had the original e-mails.
    So apologies for calling em a liar but it would be another 30 days.
    31 days later…and someone calls me. wants my console id to try and resolve the issue. Too bad he didnt tell me how to contact him witht he info since I was at work.
    I am beginning to be TRULY pissed. And get this-I was a xbox xna developer. nice huh?

  16. Nekura20x6 says:

    I’ve had a case open since AUGUST trying to get the same issue fixed. I’ve already tried the Washington State Attorney General’s office (they didn’t want to pursue the matter) and am now waiting on an inquiry by the Better Business Bureau.

  17. Matt R. says:

    I had the very same problem that you had with XBLA downloads not working on my refurbished 360. I bought 10,000 MSpoints worth of content on my first Xbox account which was tied to an email that I could no longer check. So I created a new account and had been using this until I got the RRoD. I sent it away and a month later a 360 was returned and none of my XBLA games worked. So I called 1-800-4MYXBOX and told them of my problem. They gave me all of my points back but that I would only be able to buy them using my first account. Apparently the license for the games I bought were tied to my first account. I thought, well this kinda sucks cause I would have liked to have to points transfered to my current account. But then I figured out a little trick. I logged into the my second account, and then with another joystick, I logged into my first account. Now I was able to play all of my games that did not work before on my second account and I had 10,000 free MS points. In my opinion MS handled the RRoD very well for me.

  18. duncanyoyo1 says:

    The same thing happened to my friend, all you have to do is re-download all your stuff and it should work.

  19. duncayoy1 says:

    ^ nevermind the above.
    tl;dr: sorry :P

  20. Shafnitz says:

    I’m having the same issues after my 360 was repaired. I was promised callbacks, but haven’t heard back from anyone yet. It’s ridiculous.

  21. Brian says:

    I am having some of the exact same issues. I’m still not resolved, but seem to have some luck in emailing Major Nelson (Director of Xbox live programming) whenever I don’t hear anything for a while.
    You can track my saga on my slashdot journal (too lazy for a full webpage).

  22. FNG says:

    Personally, I’m happy that more and more people are becoming vocal about this situation. I’ve been complaining about Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade DRM for quite some time now….
    April 27 (2007) –
    “Downloadable Content Abstinence”!A5557A058F6EA78B!1475.entry
    August 17 (2007) –
    “Microsoft Continues to Screw Loyal Gamers”!A5557A058F6EA78B!1729.entry
    August 27 (2007) –
    “Still in search of answers…” (follow up)!A5557A058F6EA78B!1763.entry
    September 07 (2007) –
    “Microsoft Claims CORE / PRO / ELITE Migration Incompatibility.”!A5557A058F6EA78B!1772.entry
    Even GameSpot wrote about it…
    “Lack of data transfer cable, XBLA game and video content DRM turn has turned some early buyers of Microsoft’s tricked-out console into vocal critics; Microsoft now offering data-transfer accessory gratis.”

  23. Billy says:

    Hi, thought I’d interject something you may haven’t had tried. a friend of mine had this exact problem, the only fix was to delete the game, and redownload, not the demo, but the full game like he purchased it before playing it. After that it worked.

  24. Samila says:

    My boyfriend has been dealing with this same problem for over a year. We’ve made the call, explained the situation, gave our information and so on… about six times, now.
    Every time, they promise to call us back with a refund for the 30+ arcade games that got screwed.
    The call is a lie. It NEVER comes.

  25. thetruth! says:

    Dude, im going to tell you something that might piss you off but believe me its the honest truth. The people your talking to, this “Carlos” person, doesn’t give a **** about your problem. From his point of view your just some stuck up customer who doesn’t know when to quit. He probably hates the fact that he works in a job with lousy pay to listen to you ***** about how yoy lost all that money and “carlos” is wondering how the hell it is his fault. If you really want an answer call microsoft’s corporate number, that’ll get you an answer.

  26. alan fraser says:

    and my adventure continues.
    So I’ve had this issue now for 4 months or so. I finally get a clal from someone there saying they can fix it, just give them my console id #. since I was at work, I asked for their e-mail, or if they could call me after 6pm pst. Nope, they will call the next day to get it form me.
    That was 2-3 weeks ago.

  27. jlg says:

    Sorry to hear about your Xbox woes. On the bright side, my Wii works great.

  28. Bobby says:

    Hey jlg, wait to see what happens to your VC downloads should anything ever happen to your Wii.
    Both my 360 and Wii were stolen from my apartment a while ago. I can at least play my 360 arcade games if I get online, but the Wii VC games went with the old console.

  29. Nick says:

    About 5 months ago I was running into the same issue as all of you, I own about 40 live arcade games on my machine and of course the thing takes a crap. Well I started to get worried seeing as how I invested all this money into the arcade games. I didn’t bring it up when I called to get my console fixed and sure enough they sent me out a refurbished xbox with a different serial number. Well I snapped my hard drive back on to see how they would work and I ran into the same issue, only if I was online would they work. So I just decided to try and delete and redownload my games while my gamertag (the one who purchased the games initially) was signed in. I tried one game and it worked, no problem playing offline, so I did it with the other 39 or so games I had and haven’t run into a problem since. It’s kind of a pain in the ass but it works. I even disconnected my xbox before I posted this message and tried to play Assault Heroes (the first live arcade game I bought on my original console) just to make sure it worked so I didn’t look like a dumb ass and sure enough when I physically disconnected the internet and tried to play it, it worked just fine, kind of a pain in the ass to have to redownload games, but better than having to wait three or four months to be credited back points or playing phone tag with customer service. I never had to call them once after my initial chat. So try it out, it worked for me, it’s bound to work for you too! Problem somewhat solved!

  30. Siberian says:

    I actually managed to get into a Microsoft Escalations system for this and had a guy named ‘Frank’ who was calling me for the last month re: my DRM issues and how he could do nothing.
    Yesterday he called to tell me there was nothing he could do and I should expect a call back and resolution (I shit you not this is a direct quote) “Hopefully in 2008″

  31. Ragingterror says:

    I certainly hope this pattern doesn’t come in to play. Otherwise, I’m in for a long haul with this one, aren’t I?

  32. brizahd says:

    I recently made the mistake of buying a 360 elite, and giving away my old refurb 360 to a friend. I was told they could do nothing about my xbox live games “So sorry.”
    Just so disapointing, since I’ve been a happy customer of microsoft since the original xbox. I just don’t see how I am wrong by upgrading to a better version of their console? Long story short I took a hammer to my elite.
    I kinda wished I had filmed it now.

  33. DJ says:

    Having recently (2 days ago) been stung by the XBLA DRM measures (I’ve paid for a game that I can’t now play!), I will no longer buy ANY content from XBLA. I dont have broadband access, so I took my 360 hard disc to my brothers, and paid and downloaded a game using his 360 and internet connection (onto my hard disc). Customer service told me that game is now locked to his machine, so I cant play it on mine offline; was told I should have read all the terms and conditions and basically it was tough! Never buying from XBLA again.

  34. ph4ntom says:

    I feel you’re pain on this (even though this is a few months old now). My first 360 broke a few months after I bought it in 2005 and I went through this. After a really painful process I got them to give me points back to “rebuy” all of my content, then my 2nd 360 broke. I didn’t even bother trying to get it fixed then because I had began hearing about all of the hardware issues. I’m now on my fifth 360 and if I went through this every time it happened I’d stab myself in the eye. Their handling of this is ludicrous and needs to be fixed, although I doubt seriously that it will be.
    I have stopped getting content for my 360 all together. I haven’t bought an arcade game in I can’t remember how long, the last game I bought for it was Rock Band back in December (and would have if I would have had my PS3 then).
    I’m not wasting my money on the 360 at all anymore and will likely end up cashing in my warranty at Gamestop and selling the new replacement on eBay to recoup some of my cash.

  35. Dad says:

    I used to run these same nightmare timelines when I tracked out wonderful outsourced pc support people. They are like scripts from the Twightlight Zone.

  36. LufbraDan says:

    I feel your pain guys. My premium red ringed a couple months ago and Microsoft were pretty good about it. Got a refurbished console sent back within a month. In the meantime i’d been bought a 120gb hd for my birthday. When i got the console back i did the hd transfer exactly as it says to do.
    At the end of the transfer it tells me that some of the data is corrupt and couldn’t be transferred. I looked through my files and couldn’t see anything missing so i wasn’t too bothered.
    Then when i went to play Forza 2 i got the now legendary shitty message about downloadable content. After alot of fiddling i worked out that the game will play if i redownload all the content and am connected to xbox live every fucking time i want to play the damn game. Which is shit because i don’t have a permanent hard connection and don’t really want one.
    I made my piece with this eventually then tonight i went to play Mass Effect and not only did the shitty message come up but all the forza tricks didnt work.
    I was going to ring microsoft but after what you guys have said i think i might just delete everything and stick my 360 on ebay.
    As much as i used to resent PS3s, at least they don’t do the equivalent of sodomising you with a fork every night.

  37. shake317 says:

    i just figured out how to over come the drm issue
    go here
    and it will transfer all the rights to the console ur currently using. i just found that out this morning minus the xbox support. i had 14 arcade games that i purchased on my console b4 i sent it in and when i got the replacement they didnt work but i confirm that after you follow the steps it will work. also, you need to delete the game and redownload it or it will still tell you to unlock the full version
    now with he movies, you may have to delete and redownload them also. idk i didnt have issues with the movies, yet.

  38. steve says:

    i have the same all can take them to court you buy the game.they can’t take it back, you all buy the licensing to play that show them who made xbox we the fans.i got the system the same system what i send out..i been told to play hard ball..tell them you will take them to court..they will not like to here that or say find i will make this news here around the world..

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