Microsoft says it’s removed an older, controversial DRM feature on its Xbox Series X consoles, allowing users to once again play disc-based Xbox One games on their consoles without an active internet connection.
The Xbox Series X, like the Xbox One before it, previously required a live internet connection to play Xbox One titles on a disc. It didn’t matter if you installed the disc’s content to the console’s internal storage, you still needed an internet connection to launch the game.
S Series consoles are obviously an exception to this as they don’t have a disc drive and therefore cannot play disc-based games.
However, as of last month, your console no longer has to go through this online check before launching disc-based games. As discovered by Games Radar, Xbox One games on a retail disc can now finally be played offline.
“This has been in effect since the 2206 update,” reads a tweet from Xbox engineering lead Eden Marie (although Marie would later confirm She was referring to update 2208, not 2206). “We’ve examined the data since the launch of the Series X|S and found that in the vast majority of cases, the online compatibility check is not required for Xbox One discs. Some games may still need to be updated online after installation to ensure the best experience.”
Yes, this has been the case since update 2206. We have examined the data since the launch of the Series X|S and found that the online compatibility check is not required for Xbox One discs in the vast majority of cases. Some games may still need to be updated online after installation to ensure the best experience.
— Eden Marie (@neonepiphany) September 19, 2022
The 2208 update was released in August, although the release notes don’t mention the removal of the DRM at all.
To be perfectly clear, Xbox Series X discs were already playable without an internet connection. The DRM disabled here is a holdover from the Xbox One’s difficult launch days, when an always-on connection was a mandatory component of the console’s operation. Where this DRM became an issue was in relation to Smart Delivery. Smart Delivery is Xbox’s one-size-fits-all content delivery system, the idea of which is that with one purchase you get a copy of your game on every Xbox platform. The system will then determine which console you are currently on and download the appropriate version for you. The thing is, most Smart Delivery-enabled games ship with the Xbox One version on the disc and then download a separate Series X upgrade once the disc is inserted. Until this upgrade was made, you wouldn’t be able to play any of these games without an always-on connection.
DRM was controversial at the time of Xbox One’s launch, compounded by anger over Microsoft’s view on rented games. It might be hard to believe that was so many years away, but Microsoft really intended to crack down on people who lend games to their friends. Kinda crazy to think about it now.
There are still parts of the Xbox system that require an internet connection – the initial setup phase comes to mind easily. OG Xbox and Xbox 360 games still require an internet connection as the system needs to download them fully even if you insert a disc.