Print 17 comment(s) - last by William Gaatje.. on Dec 25 at 3:26 PM

Microsoft: “Let’s make redownloading everything you ever bought as difficult as possible!”

Early last November – the same day I happily picked up Saints Row 2 with my paycheck – my Xbox 360 died. Like most 360s of 2005 vintage, mine spit back the dreaded red (three-quarters) ring of death.

Fast forward a month, and my 360 is back from the repair center. Finally! Current-gen gaming on my surround sound, and not some friend’s tinny TV speakers! Yes! I tear open the box like an 8-year-old on Christmas morning, and prepare for a long session of catch-up on drive-bys and unnecessarily rough police brutality.

Another few weeks roll by, and in futzing around the ad-tastic new interface I discover that none of my arcade games or purchased content work outside of my Xbox Live profile. Anyone who’s had their 360 repaired can tell you this is a standard occurrence with a fairly standard remedy, and anyone who invites friends over who have their own Live accounts can tell you why such a feature is important.

“No problem,” I say naively. “I’ll just use the license transfer tool!”

No problem… right? Wrong.

The whole point of the license transfer tool is to make content on your repaired, replaced, or repurchased Xbox 360 work like it did on your original console – that is, you don’t need to be signed in to play your games. Why is it, then, that in order to activate your transferred licenses you have redownload everything you ever bought?

Sure, the migration tool works… technically. It does what it is supposed to, and nothing more. Unless you go through the extra legwork, you end up at exactly the same place you were at when you started.

Redownloading your content could have been made easy – but it’s not. Microsoft says you’re supposed to find your download history under the “Account management” page on the guide menu. Navigating to that page, however, reveals one mass list of everything you have ever downloaded, ever: demos, icons, themes, full games, trial games… everything. It makes no attempt to differentiate between paid content and free, Arcade games purchases and trials – the only categories are “games” and “videos”.

Compounding this problem is the amount of steps one must take to actually start the download – and that these steps must be repeated each time: click your content item, click “Download Again”, click “Continue” to add it to the queue... lather, rinse, repeat. Keep in mind that between each of these steps is a wait time of about 3-5 seconds – an eternity when it comes to software design – while the Xbox downloads information from Live and runs the animations for moving between and drawing windows.

Microsoft: I don’t have time to sit there and requeue everything I already bought, especially when it’s because of your design flaw. People use the Xbox 360 to have fun – not to do work that most companies pay minimum wage for.

At least the NXE expanded the download queue to 40 entries, as opposed to the previous limit of six. Still – my download history is 162 entries long. Most of that is “paid” content – well, actually most of it is free stuff but it acts the same as paid content – meaning that in order to restore my Xbox to its original ability, I have to fill up that download queue four times.

This, of course, leads to four questions:

First, is it really so hard to add a “redownload all” option at the end of the transfer process? I can't think of a single good reason why not. This is Microsoft we’re talking about – the company with a seemingly endless well of money, whose Windows department pushes out large update files on a seemingly daily basis. Considering that “redownloading” a 150mb Arcade game takes about ten seconds, it would seem that Microsoft doesn’t even have to serve the actual game at all – just whatever is needed to update the license.

Second, why bother with a download queue limit at all? Just because the dash is given a limited amount of memory doesn’t mean it can’t cache the rest of the queue on disk. Besides that, a download queue – a list of URLs and their order – doesn’t take a lot of space: an order number and a URL, multiplied a bunch of times.

Thirdly, why wasn’t the transfer done while my Xbox was at the repair center?

Finally, why is this step even necessary? Is Live really so poorly designed?

For a company whose leadership seeks to establish an “open” line of communication with its customers, telling us that it’s “easy” to transfer the rights to content we legally bought (and in my book, own – EULAs be damned), forcing gamers to tediously “redownload” a huge pile of stuff strikes me as awefully braindead.

So thank you, Microsoft, for giving me yet another reason to hate DRM. Epic fail, MS.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Awesome article!
By therealnickdanger on 12/19/2008 4:48:16 PM , Rating: 5
I recently ran into a similar problem. I sent in my RROD Xbox and they sent me a refurb as a replacement. However, they didn't tell me they sent me a refurb, so when I snapped my HDD back in, none of my DLC worked. After calling Microsoft THREE times and "re-downloading" all my DLC TWICE, I finally got a smart Xbox rep who told me I had to activate my DLC for my new Xbox by entering its serial number on

Afterward, I discovered that this process may only be done once every 12 months. So if I move all my DLC to my new Elite, I'll have to wait a year before I can use it.


Seriously Microsoft, get with the f*cking times.

RE: Awesome article!
By mars777 on 12/21/2008 11:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
Man that sucks! :(

RE: Awesome article!
By Inkjammer on 12/22/2008 9:41:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure they can override the yearly limit in the case of system failures. If you called them up and said my system died, I need another reset... I'm sure they'd be more than willing to accomodate the issue.

RE: Awesome article!
By therealnickdanger on 12/22/2008 12:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
What they really need to do is stop limiting the content. Perfect example is with Rock Band. I have bought tons of songs, but when I bring Rock Band over to a friend's house or my parents' house and I can't connect to the Internet, none of those songs work. Why? What illicit activity could I be doing offline that they would restrict access to content that I own?

RE: Awesome article!
By William Gaatjes on 12/25/2008 3:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
You have voluntarily become a milk cow owned by microsoft.
1 of the many reason i do not own a xbox360 and i never will. I play a game to feel free and simple for a moment. With the xbox360 this is surely not the case.

It is not user friendly and it never will be.

sitting back and laughing
By Screwballl on 12/22/2008 2:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
I enjoy my games on a PC, usually on XP or Linux. Another reason why I keep consoles for the kids (currently a Wii) and the PC for my gaming.

RE: sitting back and laughing
By TomCorelis on 12/22/2008 6:51:03 PM , Rating: 2
I'm primarily a PC gamer too... however, I've learned that when it comes to cross-platform titles it's usually the PC version that suffers. FPS, RTS, and strategy games are still twice as good on PC... but I've found that a lot of third-person action games, fighters, and platforms simply are more enjoyable on consoles.

Besides, I like achievements.

Honestly, great gaming is available on all platforms. Taking sides in the PC/console holy war is a waste of perfectly good mental energy -- energy better spent on taking sides in things that actually matter in this world.

RE: sitting back and laughing
By lagitup on 12/22/2008 11:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
energy better spent on taking sides in things that actually matter in this world.

Could it be? Is this, perhaps, the holy grail of comments which will get modded to 6, not through humor, but through insight?

RE: sitting back and laughing
By Screwballl on 12/23/2008 10:30:50 AM , Rating: 2
agreed... but in the insatiable quest for gaming that has already been in "HD" and high resolutions for many years already, I was merely stating that my preference is with PC gaming.

Of course I started back with the Commodore and the programming based computers as well as Atari... but as I got older and into my 20s the last console I had (beside the Wii) was a PS1 and Dreamcast. Nothing since has been worth the cost to me.

By bill3 on 12/24/2008 8:28:50 AM , Rating: 2
More stupid unwarrented MS hate. Funny you never see rants like this on blogs (Dailytech) against Sony. Despite that Sony's online, server, and software are all completely and utterly unusable, far far far worse than XBL. (Example, LBP simply didnt work online for long periods of time, at all. Other egregious examples too numerous to mention).


RE: Meh
By howarchaic on 12/24/2008 9:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, LBP took a day to get connection issues resolved. Those weren't even Sony's servers, they were Media Molecule's. Quit trolling.

As far as the blog goes, insightful, but sounds like a bunch of whining from an impatient kid.

RE: Meh
By vortex222 on 12/24/2008 9:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
rants sometimes come from people that generally like or love the thing they are ranting about, but find great frustration in some aspect of it. I gather there are not many ps3 lovers around here so there isn't much basis to rant about them, the ps3 is nothing to care about imho.

RE: Meh
By howarchaic on 12/25/2008 3:40:52 AM , Rating: 2
I actually rather enjoy mine. Flamewars, however, get nowhere and I really don't care what other people think about my system, I like it. Likewise for the 360, if you like it, cool, I have no problem with that.

An Easier Method
By Tmansport on 12/20/2008 1:56:07 AM , Rating: 5
I agree that the current transfer tool sucks. However, there is now a far easier method to redownload items. Login to, click "my account" and then "purchase history". You will see a list of all your downloaded content and can "Add to queue" with one click. Queue your items, turn on your Xbox and let everything download in the background or overnight. The history is still not sorted very well, but it's a lot easier than doing it on the console.

By Chaser on 12/22/2008 11:15:18 AM , Rating: 3
Its amazing with this RROD failure rate and the apparent crap you have to go through even after you receive your "refurb" yet Microsoft continues to advertise this thing as if it's a reliable product. Its still not even today and the resolution for it is a joke. I know Jasper is on its way but the older models are out there in majority. Yet Microsoft hopes denial and mass advertising and a joke "refurb" exchange policy will sweep it in the carpet.

For most of you on DT having skills, dealing with the failure is a little less painful but for Johnny and Susie that got a new $199.00 (or better version) it's pretty pathetic.

At least Sony is doing it right
By BZDTemp on 12/22/2008 4:00:52 PM , Rating: 1
There - somebody had to say it.

It is nice to have a console where no tricks was used to make you buy overpriced crap but it's simply an open platform with no strings. On-line play is free, headset - just use whatever USB or bluetooth, keyboard - likewise, hard drive - just like on a lap top, linux - be my guest....

Make no mistake I like my 360 but I keep wondering when it will die. And now even more since it's 3+ years old. And paying 120 bucks a year to play on-line. Not anymore I not renewing Live gold.

RE: At least Sony is doing it right
By austinag on 12/22/2008 4:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
Why are you paying 120 a year? XBLive Gold costs 49.99 for 12 months.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
Related Articles
New Xbox Experience Available this Week
November 18, 2008, 12:53 PM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki