Giza aka Doug Muth (giza) wrote,
Giza aka Doug Muth
giza

Completely Broken DRM on the XBOX 360

I just saw this piece on The Consumerist, and it is a bit frightening if you've actually purchased content from XBOX Live.

Here's a summary of one customer's story:


  • Customer's XBOX 360 gets the "red ring of death", so he sends it in for repair. Receives a new XBOX with a different serial number, resulting in his content--content that he paid for--becoming unavailable when he is not logged into XBOX live with the purchasing account. Even another account on the same XBOX cannot use purchased content now.

  • Customer calls Microsoft, stays on for an hour trrying different ways to get access to his content with no luck. M$ promises to call him back in two weeks.

  • Two weeks pass. The sound of crickets is heard.

  • Customer decides to call Microsoft to follow up. They make him repeat the same steps from before, with no luck. M$ promises to call him back in two weeks. Again.

  • Two more weeks pass. The sound of crickets is heard.

  • Customer decides to call Microsoft for the third time. They make him repeat the same steps from before, with no luck. M$ promises to call him back in two weeks.

  • Two more weeks pass. The sound of crickets is heard.

  • Customer decides to call Microsoft for the fourth time. They make him repeat the same steps from before, with no luck. M$ promises to call him back in two weeks.

  • Two more weeks pass. The sound of crickets is heard.

  • Finally, customer gets a call from "Frank" at Microsoft. Frank is unable to help.

  • Over the course of a few more phonecalls, Frank is still unable to help the customer get access to his content.

  • Finally, Frank tells the customer that there is nothing more he can do, and that resolution is expected "sometime in 2008".
Now, just to be clear, the only way that the customer can access his XBOX Live content is to do so with the account that he used to purchase it.

If someone (like his wife) wants to use another account on the same machine, tough luck.

If his Internet connectivity is flaky, tough luck.

If the XBOX Live service is down and he can't log in, touch luck.

If Microsoft were to go out of business, tough luck.

Now, I know the last one isn't too likely to happen anytime soon, but I think this is yet another case of some serious drawbacks of DRM that consumers simply are not aware of. There are a whole host of problems that can keep you from using products that you paid for. And if the vendor is unable or unwilling to help, you are completely and totally screwed out of using what you paid for.

I hope that Microsoft and other companies that make use of DRM will take not of failure modes like this and try to keep them in mind in the future. Things like this can easily result in a Public Relations nightmare for any company.


"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."


[Edit: Several folks have pointed to me that this story just doesn't make much sense. Getting the content back is as simple as deleting and re-downloading it. It increasingly seems that the problem is a case of--as coyoteden put it, PEBCAS (Problem exists between controller and sofa). I still dislike DRM, though. :-P ]
Tags: 2001, drm, hal 9000, xbox
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