Microsoft’s Xbox Series X DRM Shows It’s Not Serious About Game Preservation Despite What Phil Spencer Says



Xbox boss Phil Spencer claims that the industry should do more to preserve its history and its games. He made his comments in a recent interview with YouTube channel Kinda Funny (via PC Gamer).

“I really wish as an industry we’d come together and help preserve the history of what gaming is about, so we don’t lose the ability to go back,” he said.

“I think about what the Paley Center did for TV. Paley early on saw the TV industry was getting ready to literally throw away the tapes that these old TV shows were on, and he said, ‘Hey, I want to archive those because at some point, somebody will want to go back and watch the Ed Sullivan show or something, and those things shouldn’t be thrown away.’ As an industry I would love it if we came together to help preserve the history of what our industry is about, so we don’t lose access to some of the things that got us to where we are today.”

While Spencer’s comments are admirable, they seem tone-deaf and disingenuous when you consider the Xbox Series X and the DRM it’s laden with.

Xbox Series X Games Can’t Be Played Offline

According to a video from YouTuber and game developer Modern Vintage Gamer, the Xbox Series X is unable to play games without connecting to Microsoft’s servers. He tried games off a disc like Rise of the Tomb Raider as well as Hitman 3 and both refused to work offline.

While Microsoft recommends keeping your Xbox Series X as your ‘Home Console’ in its settings, it’s a solution that’s described as a ‘band-aid’ as it doesn’t seem to work with every game as it should.

Native Xbox Series X physical games like Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition work fine. It installed off the disc and ran as it should offline. This should in theory mean that games that are solely for the Xbox Series X should work both offline and online. However with Microsoft’s focus on Smart Delivery, it means that the current crop of Xbox Series X discs that run on Xbox One as well are essentially coasters.

All of this essentially means that you won’t be able to play your Xbox games when Microsoft decides to take its servers offline. This makes game preservation on the console near impossible.

If Microsoft Was Serious About Game Preservation, Xbox Series X DRM Would Be Removed

Spencer’s comments were noticed by video game preservationist group DoesItPlay.

”Remove the Xbox DRM then?,” the account tweeted. ”Actions speak louder than words.”

Granted there are concrete business reasons for this kind of heavy-handed policy to be in place, but they’re in sharp contrast to Spencer’s statements in favour of video game preservation. To make matters worse, he later claims in the interview that Xbox Live and Game Pass are methods of preservation.

Considering the means of access and complete control lies in the hands of a corporation that could at any given time, decide to cut you off from playing your games doesn’t really make them solutions for preservation in any real way either.

Of late gamers are growing increasingly aware of what appears to be console companies exercising a near obscene amount of control over their games. Sony was taken to task for its heavy-handed policies regarding the PS3, PS4, PSP, PS Vita, and most recently, PS5. Safe to say, Microsoft’s been no better in this respect and Spencer’s comments are farcical at best when in reality the company has been working towards a future where you have less control of your games than ever.


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