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Exclusive Q&A with Marc Whitten on Microsoft DRM tool

Maybe it was our constant pestering, week after week, month after month, asking everyone at Microsoft what was going on with the DRM situation on Xbox Live – read: some consoles which had been repaired or replaced had lost the ability to play certain XBLA games or view some Xbox Live video content without being signed into Xbox Live – but sometime after announcing the pending release of the DRM tool, we were given the opportunity to speak with Microsoft's Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox Live, about some of the outstanding questions we had. Anything we missed? Leave your own questions in the comments and we'll try and get the best ones answered.

Joystiq: What took so long? And how long has Microsoft been cognizant of the problem and did the RRoD situation exacerbate this situation?

Marc Whitten: This update is in response to the requests for this from our community. Xbox LIVE members have been asking for an easier way to transfer licenses, and we've been working hard behind the scenes to make this happen. We know the license transfer process has been difficult... I experienced it first hand when I upgraded to an Xbox 360 Elite, but we think this new DRM tool will be great and worth the wait.

How does the tool work? Can we reauthorize content from console to console, or enable on multiple consoles (ala PS3)? If so, how many consoles?
The process is really easy. The DRM tool lets you consolidate all of your downloaded content licenses to one console. So let's say you downloaded UNO from Xbox LIVE Marketplace and an episode of South Park from the Video Store on your Xbox 360, and then upgraded to an Elite down the line and downloaded more games and videos on the new console. In this scenario your content would be licensed to two consoles, and by using the DRM tool you could then download your older content licenses to your new console. With this tool you can transfer licenses from multiple consoles to a single console.

Currently the DRM switch process can take up to 20 days with the help of Xbox Tech Support. Is DRM switching with the new tool instantaneous? If not, how long does it take content to switch over?

I don't think it is still taking that long with our tech support team. We rolled out some changes to support a couple of months ago to give our support agents better tools to handle license transfers, and things have gotten better there. But in terms of the Xbox DRM tool-it is really fast. You can transfer your licenses in a matter of minutes.

What level of control will players have over their ownership of these games? Gamertag centric? Console centric?
Both. You will continue to own any games purchased from your account or Gamertag. Basically, if you bought it on your Xbox 360, this tool will help you move the licenses over. It is that simple.

Can gamers "sell" or "trade" their XBLA games using this tool?
This tool was created to make license transfers easier for our community, not to allow for selling and trading of games.

Assuming Microsoft will be in the games space for awhile, are there plans to let gamers bring XBLA games "forward" to a new console or "sideways" to another product line (think Xbox 7120, Zune, or "Xboy")?
I think you might be getting ahead of yourself here. This tool is only designed for the Xbox 360.

Will this tool also control DRM on PC Live Arcade games? (ps - Where is that anyways?!)
This tool is only for DRM content on your Xbox 360 like Xbox LIVE Arcade games and TV shows.

Is the "tool" Web-based only on or will there be a console-facing counterpart through Xbox Live?
Right now this tool is just on

Is the DRM tool capable of fixing all downloadable content issues, from XBLA titles to content downloaded for specific games (something like Rock Band, Guitar Hero music for example) to things like Xbox Live Marketplace videos?
All games and entertainment content can be transferred except movies downloaded from the Xbox LIVE Video Store. Movies can't be transferred because they are only available for rent. But everything else-- TV shows, music videos, Xbox LIVE Arcade games, map packs, etc, can be transferred by using this tool.

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