Microsoft makes a big improvement to Xbox DRM

By Tom West,

The latest Xbox Series X|S update has introduced a host of improvements to the Xbox DRM checking process, allowing you to now play most single-player games offline.

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a process that consoles use to check the license of the game you're about to play to make sure you own the game and have the right to play it. While it's great for combating piracy, it does mean that players without internet access or limited access can't play their games without first connecting to the servers, even if it's from a disc.

The recent September update, 2208, for Xbox Series X|S consoles has added improvements to the DRM process, effectively letting you play your single-player games when offline, although Xbox Game Pass, Xbox 360, and OG Xbox games will still require an online check before you start playing. While it's not listed as a feature on Microsoft's site, Xbox engineering lead Eden Marie confirmed the changes in a reply to a Twitter post, saying "the online compatibility check isn't needed in the vast majority of cases."

Xbox DRM update explained by YouTuber Hikikomori Media

YouTuber Hikikomori Media's video above gives a breakdown of the new DRM changes introduced to Xbox Series X|S consoles, which affect many Xbox One-branded games, but not all. Original Xbox and Xbox 360 games still won't work with update 2208, which Marie says is because the data on those discs "can't be used directly," which makes sense as they're using the Backwards Compatibility program. Xbox Game Pass titles also won't work, even if they're offline single-player games as the server needs to make sure you have an active subscription. Xbox Series X|S-only and downloaded games will continue to work offline, but you'll need to use your 'Home Xbox' to access your digital library.

It's Xbox One disc-based games that see the benefit of the DRM changes. Before, when you put a disc into your console, the console needed to send a request to the Digital Rights Management server to prove that it was a legitimate copy of the game, then the server would ping its approval back to your console and allow you to play, meaning you'd have to be online to initiate it.

That's no longer the case, and after installing the update, you should find that your disc-based Xbox One games work completely fine when your console isn't connected to the internet — bear in mind, that's only for the single-player parts of the games. The system does offer a few caveats, though, as the days of every disc containing the complete game for the console you're using are far behind us now.

Some games that are branded to work on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One can, and in many cases do, contain the Xbox One version of the game, as discs only have so much memory. That means you need to connect to the internet to download the current-gen version of the game if you want to access that content, otherwise it'll remain fully playable in its last-gen format. Other games only offer part of the game on the disk and require you to download the remaining assets via a day one patch to finish installing the game, again requiring an internet connection.

It's not a perfect scenario for Xbox game preservation, but it's definitely a huge step in the right direction for Microsoft, which shows that the company is listing to the feedback from its community. Will these changes make any difference to how you play or purchase your games? Drop a comment below and let s know!
Tom West
Written by Tom West
Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with a number of systems until he eventually fell in love with Xbox. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not hunting for Xbox achievements, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online or fighting for survival in Battlefield.
View discussion...
Hide ads