Like most 360 users, I have downloaded a lot of stuff from XBL. And when I say lots of stuff, I mean 100’s and 100’s of downloads.
Also like most 360 users, I burnt through more than one 360 console thanks to the lovely 3 Red Lights fiasco. 3 in fact. Needless to say, my content, although all on my current HD, isn’t accessible when I am signed out of XBL. Don’t ask me why, but I decided to dabble in Xbox.com’s License Transfer feature this past weekend.
Long story short, everything you download retains metadata associated with the GamerTag and the console ID it was downloaded to. This means that if you sign into XBL and download a full version of an XBLA game on a difference console, you will only be able to play that XBLA game when signed into XBL if you re-download and try to play it on a different console. And because I have AT&T (holy hell I hate you) my DSL is spotty at best. Meaning, I can’t always sign into Live but would still like to have access to the content that I purchased. And this if all sounds confusing, that is because it is.
When I signed into Xbox.com and clicked on the Transfer Licenses option, I saw that I had content listed under 4 different consoles (3 were my old consoles and one was a buddy’s). After walking through the steps, I eventually clicked my way through and got everything compiled under my most current console. Ok, so step one complete.
Of course this whole time you need to be signed into your console, which is downstairs in my house, as well as online via your computer, which is upstairs in my house. During this whole time, I was constantly running up and down the stairs, signing in and out of XBL. Man, what a pain.
Now onto step two: transferring licenses.
Have you ever first downloaded the demo version of an XBLA game, then decided to purchase the full game? You know how it only then takes about 1 second to unlock the full version? Well when you transfer licenses, Xbox.com basically gives you access to your download history and will automatically load up your XBL download queue on your 360. So the next time you log into to Live from your console, you can start to re-download the licenses (the one second unlock task) as soon as you are online.
Unfortunately, there are many problems with this. First, I have 100’s of things that I downloaded, but the friggin’ queue only allows a maximum of 30 items to be in your queue at one time. So again, I had to make several journeys from the upstairs computer to the downstairs 360. Secondly, this unlock sequence only takes a second to transfer that license per download item. However, if you deleted that content from your 360 HD, you have to re-download the entire thing which holds up the rest of the transferring. This means it is not a 1 second process and can take a very long time depending on file size. Next, I had to download old things that are no longer relevant – things like the Halo 3 multiplayer beta and old videos that I long deleted.
Making matters worse, the feature on Xbox.com just plain sucks. So let’s say I just transferred the licenses of my last 30 downloads. Now any normal system would indicate something like “hey, you just downloaded these 30 things. That means we can delete them and move on to the next 30 things.” Ummm, yeah, this is not the case. Not only did I have to manually remember where I left off, there were things in my download history that never appeared in my transfer license queue!
After about 4 hours of dicking around with this, I am still not even sure if this process worked. I am beyond frustrated. Oh yeah, and the other kicker is that you are only allowed to transfer licenses once every 100something days. I was planning on buying a Slim with a 250gb HD this holiday with the inevitable black Friday deals… so much for that idea.
So what did we learn from this experience today kids? We learned that transferring licenses to your current 360 is a giant pain the ass and probably won’t even work by the time you think you are done.
Microsoft not only made this process difficult, but we shouldn’t even have to deal with it to begin with. If they launched the 360 with a larger HD and made consoles that actually did NOT break (screw you 3 red lights), then we would not have had to worry about transferring licenses.
But when you look at it, that was probably Microsoft’s plan along; get the consumer so frustrated that they no longer care if they have to re-purchase the content that they already bought with Microsoft Points.
…and don’t get me started on Microsoft Points.