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Talkingship – Video Games, Movies, Music & Laughs | August 12, 2020

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Xbox One’s DRM Explained

Xbox One’s DRM Explained

The Xbox One has online DRM. But what does this mean, and why isn’t it as big as deal as you might think? Shaxster explains.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the publication of this article, Microsoft have made the shocking decision to completely backtrack on their DRM policies, which are now exactly the same as the Xbox 360’s. Whilst the factual information in this article is no longer correct, we feel that the points raised and the evaluation made still stand, therefore we will not be removing the article.

People have been very upset about the Xbox One’s Internet requirement. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, what Microsoft has said is that your X1 must connect to the Internet once every 24 hours, as a form of DRM. Most of us know this. What there seems to be a lack of, unfortunately, is any other clarity. Twitter has been rife with misunderstandings clouded by rage, and facts have been difficult to come across. So it’s time to inject a little sense into the gaming community: Let’s explain the Xbox One’s DRM.


Your Xbox One must connect to the Internet once every 24 hours for you to play it. This doesn’t mean you have to turn your console on once per day. If you leave it off for more than 24 hours it will just re-authenticate when you turn it back on.

The connection is required to transfer a few kilobytes of data: there is no major upload or download going on here. So your Internet speed shouldn’t matter at all.

If you don’t connect, you will not be able to play your games. You will still be able to use the X1 as a DVD and BluRay player, and the Live TV features will continue to work.


Microsoft have been shockingly unclear about why this DRM is actually needed, but I think I’ve figured it out. To explain, we first need to look at the X1’s discless and shared library features.

Here’s how the game buying process is going to work: Go to shop. Buy disc. Insert disc in console. Game installs and links to your Xbox Live account. Throw disc away forever.

That’s right, you don’t need the disc for X1 games. After that first install, you can get rid of it forever, if you’re not sentimental. Discs are now only needed to circumvent long downloads from the Xbox Live Games store, and this is part of the move to an all-digital future. Understanding that games are now discless is a key part of understanding the DRM.

The second thing you need to know is that Microsoft has implemented a shared library. All of your Xbox One games are available for download on any X1 console you log into. Go to your friend’s house, login, and you can download and play all of your games (disc free, of course). Better yet, you can link up to ten other ‘family’ accounts to your main account, and all of those will have the same access to your library from any console. Of course, Microsoft can’t distinguish between your family and friends, so I expect most of those 10 slots to be taken up by friends.

Here’s the catch: you can’t access your games from multiple consoles at the same time. In the same way that with a disc only one person can be playing at a time, in our all digital future only one person can access the game library at a time (some conflicting reports are saying two people can play at once, but those are both unclear and irrelevant to this discussion). That’s to stop people from only buying games once among a circle of 10+ friends.

Microsoft have to figure out a way to enforce this, of course. How do they do that? By forcing you to connect to the Internet every 24 hours. This way they can check that you’re not playing on multiple consoles at once,  which is a clear violation of the Terms of Service. I assume that Microsoft have chosen 24 hours as the requirement as it’s a fair balance: long enough to be reasonable if your Internet goes down, but not so long as to let you complete a shared (technically illegal) game in the time you’re offline.

If this DRM wasn’t there, this is what would happen: I would sign into my account on a friend’s console. I would download my games. I would then unplug his console from the Internet so that the X1 couldn’t ‘phone home’. Once I got back to my console, I’d start playing my games as well. In this scenario, we’ve got any number from 2 to 10 people playing the same game at the same time. You can’t do that with a disc, and you can’t do that with the X1. The DRM is the only method Microsoft have to make sure you’re not doing this.


If you think this 24 hour requirement is a problem…get over it. This is the world we’re moving towards. It’s the world that iTunes and Steam have helped to create. If we want an all-digital future (and many of us do), then the DRM is a necessary consequence. Gamers have been begging for games to go discless for a long time now, but now that it’s here they can’t deal with the implications of it. You can’t have your cake and eat it, folks.

More importantly…this shouldn’t inconvenience you. We live in a very well connected world. If you’re one of the minority in the Western world who doesn’t have an Internet connection that is even a tiny bit stable, and lack any cellphone signal for tethering…I hate to say it, but sucks to be you. The X1 isn’t made for you. It’s made for those of us who do have Internet, those who want to make use of the shared library features, those who love the idea of discless gameplay. To be frank, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice this all-digital future (one that many of us so desperately want) just because you aren’t lucky enough to have Internet. To demand such a thing is selfishness at its highest level. As Microsoft have put it over the last few days, if you don’t have an Internet connection then the Xbox One isn’t for you.



Hopefully this clears things up, and has gone some way to explaining why Microsoft have implemented this DRM. Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of misinformation largely resulting from a knee jerk reaction to Microsoft’s policies, and a lot of the hate MS have been getting is unjustified. I for one am looking forward to the Xbox One: whilst it’s not perfect, it sure as hell ain’t the devil’s console.

  • Phil

    FOR FUCK SAKE, I WISH PEOPLE WOULD STOP SAYING “THIS IS THE WAY THE INDUSTRY IS GOING” Why are so many people oblivious to their rights as consumers? YOU can decide which way the industry goes by supporting and paying for the practices that YOU want. Companies go bust everyday because consumers decided they don’t want their products/services anymore and stop paying for it. These companies have no choice but to either change to satisfy the consumers and earn a profit, or do “whatever they want” and go bust…these corporations CANNOT exist without consumers paying for them!

    Fair enough, if don’t have a problem paying for Microsoft’s rules and regulations then by all means, but in that case, say you don’t mind where they’re taking the industry, don’t make it sound like these corporations are in control, THEY ARE NOT, consumers are!

    IDIOT SHEEP! (sorry, nothing personal, it’s just the worst justification I keep hearing…)

  • Phil

    Does the Xbox One have a quantum chipset or something?

  • bg1906

    I agree 100% Great read and write!

  • bkviper

    I didn’t read all the other comments, so this might have been mentioned before, but:
    What you said is all well and good, but then why not have the option of playing the game without connecting IF YOU HAVE THE DISC.
    If I buy the physical disc, there should be no reason any DRM needs to take place, and no reason why my console should shut down and prevent me from playing that game after 24 hours.
    I am fine with your logic about everything else, concerning discless game play. But MS should offer an alternative for those without regular internet access, and the logical answer to that is to still allow disc based games to be played without any internet.

  • Greg

    The biggest problem with this DRM is that it is being forced on us. If I want to share my games then yes check it online no problem. If I’m off line disable sharing and use disc to verify that I’ve bought it legally and let me play my game. But I cannot because I’m being forced to authenticate myself online. Worst thing is that M$ servers will go down and in years time they will switch them off and your whole game collection is gone forever. If I would like to rent my games I would use onlive or local game store for third the price. Regardless what M$ has to offer no one should agree that you don’t own games anymore and they will decide can you play them or not and for how long. I know that many people just don’t care and they want to play new Forza or Halo. I wonder what You all do when in years time M$ will switch off the servers like they did with original xbox and your console and collections of games is gone forever.

  • Tom Wilk

    i’ve never seen MS’s network (XBL) go down. with hundreds of redundancies and the large number of supported servers, there’s really no likelihood of that happening. PS has problems w/ their servers because they weren’t dedicated or directly supported servers.

    with the exclusion of a massive power outage, i’ve never had my internet go out for more than 2 days, most have been less than a day. so it’s not really an issue for me. but again, i probably could use my cell phone or tablet to connect if needed.

  • Nonofurbuisness

    If you think this 24 hour requirement is a problem…get over it.. Go F&^% yourself.

  • Joe Macintosh

    The problem is they are very anti-consumer, they don’t give people the choice over a more traditional game played from a disk or a more digital approach. I also wonder how fast you will use up your 500gb hard drive, given the fact that games are now on Blu-ray disks with mandatory installation.

  • Joe Macintosh

    Its a problem for people who don’t necessary have the luxury of internet connection.

  • Joe Macintosh

    The fundamental fact is, if they want to follow a steam like model, they really shouldn’t pretend to be a traditional console, with the joke of buying a disk and not needing it after its used. It confuses people. On the point of confusion, the name is terrible.

  • Tom Wilk

    Steam usually requires you to connect when you first log in. If you log on to one computer, they automatically log you off the other. There is a 30 day offline status, but you’re limited on what you can do.

    XB1 is using the Steam model, with the modification that you can buy, sell, and trade used games. Steam doesn’t offer that. So the daily check in, regardless of combating piracy, is also to ensure that you didn’t already sell/trade your game to someone else and you’re still playing it. It will autoupdate your library.

    All of these policies make it easier and more convenient for consumers how have some basic level of technological infrastructure in their neighborhood.

  • Joe Macintosh

    Here’s another observation, if they even cared about their long standing loyal fans who have put money in their pockets since the original xbox, they would have bothered making the console backwards compatible somehow, even if it is through emulation. To all who says its not possible, I say this, they had 8 years to produce a worthy successor to the xbox 360, this is far from it. Its a system that doesn’t put gamers first, it puts the system first. The worst thing is, since the system got announced, there really hasn’t been anything positive about it. From the requirement of kinect, to DRM and online requirement, with a lack of support for 360 and arcade games, THERE REALLY ISN’T MUCH POSITIVE ABOUT IT.

  • thethiny

    Thats what I always say! you like Steam’s DRM you must like X1’s DRM!

  • Daniel Beverly

    2 yrs ago is not relevant

  • Steve

    >Gamers have been begging for games to go discless for a long time now

    no the fuck they havent

  • wtf

    Wait, is everyone here forgetting that the Xbox One is $100 more expensive than PS4 and 50% less powerful? lol ok argument over. fuck kinect unresponsive piece of shit motion controls are not appealing to any gamer that wants to play online or play well.

  • gijfri

    I live in a suburban area not far from NYC. I have access to stable internet and even then; I have gone periods where my internet has gone out for much more than 24 hours. I’ve gone a week without internet. The fact that Microsoft never thought of these issues is fucking unacceptable and this should not be the future of games.

  • Mahmood Shaikh

    Ha ha ha. XBL has never gone down, that’s a good one.

  • Jeffrey Alexander

    Apple doesn’t let you share games…at all.
    Steam MAY be doing something near future with that, but how it works is still anyone’s guess

  • Jason Mounce

    Oh hey look! A random Damage-control article made by a site barely anyone has heard of!

    How much did Microsoft pay to get this article made? There seems to be a good amount of Randomly-named articles sprouting to try to disperse the fires of Fact and truth in attempts to sway people that Xbox One is something that it isn’t.

    If it weren’t even as big of a problem as it truly is? Microsoft THEMSELVES would say so, what do we get instead? Opinionated articles trying to quell and commit to damage control in ‘Quantity over Quality’ – Bravo. Microsoft themselves can’t even speak on their own behalf because they have to give misinformation or half-truths but never the blunt, cold hard bloody facts, they don’t want to admit the truth and are hiding it. Look at Sony for instance and in comparison, they made it a spectacle about how honest they were to their consumers because they’re not trying to bullshit their customers. You ask them a question, they answer it. Microsoft? They tell you “We’ll tell you later” or “No comment at this time” or “Maybe-possible does something” – “If you play a used game, something will happen” – “You may-possibly-not regret buying ‘The best console ever – Probably-“

  • Jeffrey Alexander

    Well, THIS just happened.

  • Jdog

    Any one remember the psp go it was all digital look what happen to it

  • Dean again

    Obviously doesn’t game enough – It’s down around once a month on average I would say

  • Dean again

    And boom microsoft hear our call