Over the last week, several Xbox owners have experienced major issues with playing and launching the games they own, as a result of Microsoft server outages. Online Digital Rights Management (DRM) requires users to remain online while playing games as a means to determine rightful ownership. As a consequence, many games can’t be played without an online check. This requires an active server – which is where the problems now lie for Xbox.
As of May 6, the Xbox Support Team has been flooded with user complaints detailing issues with accessing games, thanks to always-online DRM. It appears the Xbox servers have experienced major outages over the last week, with temporary fixes put in place ultimately failing to address concerns.
While the support team claimed the issue had been fixed on Saturday, it appears to be persisting, with many players still locked out from playing their favourite titles. Understandably, the persistence of outages has caused major outrage about the need for online DRM, given many single player games don’t actually require online features to function.
Many have pointed out that while digital game ownership is rising, the issues they cause far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of needing a disk. Physical games can run regardless of server status, while digital games typically need a check at some point, dictated by the provider.
Xbox has now directly acknowledged the problem, and promised a ‘full mitigation’ in the coming days as it rolls out a new update – but for now, it doesn’t appear the major issue with online DRM has been solved. There’s also no guarantee the issue will be fixed entirely.
As several commentators have pointed out, challenges with DRM remain an issue exclusive to Xbox. On PlayStation, games can be played for some time without the need to remain online. On Switch, the same can be done on the primary console.
Xbox tends to be far stricter with its DRM, meaning players suffer in the case of major outages like this one. While a fix is on the way, players who haven’t been able to access their games in nearly a week are calling for much-needed change. With outages continuing, it’s likely these voices will only get louder.