Killer Instinct Tournament Stopped by Xbox One DRM

Xbox One kicked players out of a Killer Instinct match during a tournament to ask them to prove they owned the game... while they were streaming.

Sometimes irony is simply too beautiful.  When a couple of guys got up on stage at EVO 2013 to talk about Xbox One and Killer Instinct, they received a round of boos.  The unpleasant reception was almost certainly mostly due to the console’s originally planned DRM, but the memory is a stark one.  Now a fighting game tournament, a tournament featuring Killer Instinct, has found itself interrupted by that very console’s DRM policies.

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And it happened during a live stream of the event.

Two fighters were interrupted in the middle of their match by the Xbox One they were playing on returning to its dashboard and prompting them to prove they own the game.  This is especially problematic with Killer Instinct, since the game is digitally distributed and technically free, with individual characters being paid for.  Often it is literally not possible for consoles to be connected to the internet during tournaments, as such is entirely venue-determined and venues for these events can be difficult to find.

In fighting games, this sort of issue is a big deal.  I have personally seen people ejected from tournaments for using a wireless controller and accidentally pausing a game they were not taking part in.  Even pausing a game someone is an active part of is generally considered a forfeit, given the precision of the timing required for high-level play.

This is the kind of thing that could seriously alienate the tournament fighting game community.

This probably was not a glitch.  From all I can find, this is a relic of the DRM systems Microsoft originally wanted for the Xbox One.  It is possible they simply did not change the way they were designed for their digitally distributed games, assuming anyone downloading games to begin with would have the system connected all the time.

Hopefully the issue is one Microsoft will correct soon with a patch.  Being able to only play a given game for a limited time before the console simply shuts it down would effectively prohibit the game from becoming a tournament staple for practical reasons.  The fighting game community can be intensely loyal if treated well and listened to, but they have their limits, and Xbox One did not start off on the right foot.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.