Ever since the console was announced, DRM has been a prickly issue for Microsoft's Xbox One. The controversial plan to kill off the used games market via a licence system was one of the first U-turns that the company made with regards to the system leading up to its release — but last week we saw a possible resurgence of the dreaded DRM.
Reports began to circulate that Far Cry 4 had been delisted from the Xbox Live Marketplace early last week — and, more pressingly, some players who had bought the title digitally now found that they couldn't access their downloaded copy. This certainly had the air of the worst kind of DRM about it, and now Microsoft has responded to questions on what exactly was going on behind the scenes.
According to the company, the Far Cry 4 lockout was simply a glitch, rather than being an indication that there's some devious licencing method playing out under the hood without the knowledge of users. The reality is that digital copies work much the same as they did on the Xbox 360.
That means that if you've bought something, you can download it again and again whenever you please — even if the title has been delisted from the Marketplace. And, with more and more games being delisted from download stores thanks to expiring licences and the like, that's very reassuring for anyone trying to build a digital library that will stand the test of time.
Microsoft's exact words in a statement to Videogamer:
"If customers own the rights to a game, they can visit their download history and initiate a re-download whenever they please – even if the game has been delisted from Xbox Store and is no longer available for purchase."
So, after a string of botched releases including the glitch-ridden Assassin's Creed: Unity and a stilted attempt at bringing Tetris to the current generation of consoles, at least the technical issues that have affected Far Cry 4 have been fixed quickly. Users now have access to the game again — although there's not been much said about the 'glitch' that caused the problems.
In an era of video games when the industry is shifting increasingly towards digital-only, it's crucial that consumers are kept informed of exactly what they're entitled to. It's perhaps paranoid to think that companies are out to get us — but when consumers are paying full price for non-physical products, it's important to ensure that they'll at least have continued access to them.
Are Microsoft's comments enough to reassure you that it's safe to go digital on the Xbox One? Or are you still sticking to physical releases, for now? Let us know in the comments section below.