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Microsoft has eased one DRM hurdle for disc games on Xbox

Image of the Xbox Series X, showing the power button and air vent.
Insert a disc and play. | Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Microsoft makes it easier to play games on your Xbox Series X, even when it’s offline – from the 2208 update released earlier this monthyou are not forced to run an online compatibility check to play a game from an Xbox One disc (through Windows Central). Instead, you can just pop the disc in, install the game and play; no internet connection required.

The change, which is not listed as a feature of the 2208 update on the Microsoft site, was confirmed by Eden Marie, Xbox’s technical leader, who tweeted that the check was removed because it was not necessary “in the vast majority of cases” when playing a cross-generational game on the Series X.

YouTuber Hikikomori Media has a good overview of how the situation was before, but the TL; DR is that there is a bit of a mixed bag when you buy Xbox games on disc. Some will be branded as Xbox One games, which will clearly include the version of the game intended for Microsoft’s last generation of consoles. However, other games are branded as working with both the Xbox Series X and the Xbox One (the Xbox Series S doesn’t have an optical disc drive to put games in) – but sometimes the version of the game on the disc is for the Xbox One. Before the update, you had to be online to complete the installation of these games so that you could download Xbox information that would allow them to work with the newer console.

Now you can install the Xbox One version of the game directly from the Xbox One or cross-generation disc and start playing. Of course, if you want to download updates or expansion packs for the Series X, you still need to go online. You’ll also need to go online to play games that don’t have all the installation information on the disc. Those caveats mean it’s not a complete win for game preservation, but in theory if Microsoft ever shut down its servers, at least you should still be able to play the version of the game on disc.

According to a new video from Hikikomori Mediathe situation for Xbox Series X exclusive game discs and games downloaded from the store is the same as before the update – you can play them completely offline (but if you want to do this for the latter, you have to must be on your home xbox). However, if you put an Xbox 360 or original Xbox disc in it, you still won’t be able to play it without going online first; Marie says this is because the data on those drives “cannot be used directly”.

Microsoft has been working on making it easier to launch and play games on Xbox in general. It recently started testing badges on the console’s home screen that indicate at a glance whether a game is currently playable.

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