The Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S have always had a Digital Rights Management policy that was always online, which means that in order for the game to be recognized as something you own and can play, it needs a specific configuration file from Microsoft’s servers or downloading from Microsoft would give players a “This game is not ready yet” message. This was even true for games on disc, since most of them have the basic files of a game on the disc, but the rest has to be downloaded, which requires an internet connection. Until now. Xbox has now updated the DRM to allow downloaded games to work offline.
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September has been a busy month for Microsoft and Xbox, one filled with updates. First, Microsoft announced a “month-long series of experiments” that marked the beginning of the overhaul of their Xbox home user interface, offering Xbox gamers a long-overdue overhaul of the console’s dashboard dubbed “The New Xbox Home Experience.”
The second of the updates being rolled out is the integration of Discord for the Xbox app. The Xbox community has always had an integrated medium of communication, but with the ridiculous rise in Discord’s popularity and how many players are using it to keep in touch with their friends and servers, it’s finally been integrated into the Xbox app.
The third update is that Xbox has integrated HowLongToBeat.com into their library descriptions so players have an idea of how long it takes to beat their games before even downloading the game. While this doesn’t add much, it’s a nice little feature.
While all of this was happening, another update was happening in the background that was never announced.
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It seems that although players have not paid attention, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) has been updated to allow Xbox owners to play some of their games completely offline once downloaded. There was no official announcement from Microsoft regarding this, and this was reported by YouTuber Hikikomori Media via Idle Sloth’s Twitter account.
Several games were tested on their Xbox Series X before the report was published, such as Resident Evil Village, Nier Replicant, Devil May Cry HD Collection and judgement, including many others. All the games mentioned can be played completely offline without the Xbox DRM policy getting in the way. He found that games downloaded via Game Pass could not be run offline (probably because the subscription service needs to verify that a player should still have access to the game), and as mentioned, some discs still needed it all files to be downloaded.
Games with backwards compatibility (e.g. games originally released on Xbox 360 or Xbox One but played on an Xbox Series X|S) could not be played offline, and that makes sense. Backward compatible games like Deadly Premonition and Panzer Dragoons do not run natively on the latest generation console and require an internet connection to download a special emulated version of the game. It is not possible to access the emulated game files without an internet connection.
Unfortunately, it will always be an offline-only experience as most games require an internet connection to download the game initially, and it seems that players will need to complete at least one internet-enabled initial check-in to be able to play their games offline, but for gamers who have a metered connection, they could disconnect once those are done and enjoy their games offline.
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