Killer Instinct’s DRM Check Poses Problem For Its Use In Tournaments

This wasn’t a major event, but it was a tournament streamed yesterday by a pretty big name in the fighting game community, Team Spooky, and it’s not the kind of closeup Killer Instinct was hoping for. The tournament lost its Internet connection and, well, this console couldn’t continue.

This occurred in the winners final at yesterday’s Defend the School tournament, held at Queens College in New York. Qualifying rounds for the Defend the North fighting game tournament, a pro eSports event, were also held there. The outage occurs around the 6:35 mark of the above video, and the DRM check is done after the match was finished, so the players were not booted mid-round.

Yes, this is how digital-only games work and not just for the Xbox One, when multiple accounts are on one console. What would most easily solve the problem in a competition setting, though, is if Killer Instinct was on a disc, which it is not.

So either the console has to be the unit that bought the game, or an account that bought the game must be signed in, to pass the ownership check if the Internet goes out. How all this is handled when Killer Instinct‘s basic game is free (you get one playable character) and the rest of its content can be bought a la carte is another wrinkle, too.

Whatever the case, “Huge DRM blowup in the middle of the match,” Team Spooky wrote in the description of this video. “I really hope this never happens at majors.”

It raises a legitimate question whether an event will want to bother with Killer Instinct if this kind of thing is on the table. We’ve reached out to Microsoft representatives to ask if they have any comment on this or advice for the fighting games community on how to keep faulty Internet from booting players out of a match. If they make any comment, we’ll update it here.

Update: Microsoft didn’t have anything specific to say with regard to Killer Instinct‘s use or viability in fighting game tournaments, restating that anyone can play a digital game (or other content) anywhere on Xbox One by signing in with that account. Which is well and good, but it more or less means tournaments that feature Killer Instinct will have to take extra steps to make sure the consoles running the game are the ones that bought it, in case the Internet connection drops out.

KI @ Defend the School: RG Rico Suave (Thunder) vs DesDinova91 (Sabrewulf) – WINNERS FINALS [YouTube via Polygon]


  • Yeah the DRM ain’t helping, but has the netcode sync issue been sorted out (or proven to be fake or something?)”

    Two players seeing completely different things, to the point where the result of the match is unique to each observer. I guess that’s one way to get around lag perception.

    • I believe it was sorted out in the latest patch. It was actually a super rare desync issue that supposedly only occured in Exhibition matches.

  • but it more or less means tournaments that feature Killer Instinct will have to take extra steps to make sure the consoles running the game are the ones that bought it

    Could also be worded as: more or less means tournaments that feature Killer Instinct will have to ensure all the copies being played are licensed.

    Like the error screen said, it couldn’t ensure the person playing it had the rights to do so; they didn’t have a disk, they weren’t signed in to an appropriate account, and the console was never used to purchase the game.

    How would you expect it to work? This is exactly how it functioned on the 360. This isn’t new.

    • Congratulations on being completely irrelevant. The point isn’t that this is new, it’s that DRM on downloadable games can affect tournament play, which affects the future of the game at light.

      • Yes. DRM, literally meaning Digital Rights Management, means that you cannot play the game if you do not have to right to play it.

        Tournament play or not shouldn’t mean skirting the fact they don’t have a licence to play it. To continue playing devils advocate, lets say they bought a single instance of the game and installed it to 30 Xbox One consoles at the tournament – how many of these copies should actually work?

        • It’s easy enough if it’s on a disc. Just take the disc and stick it in any console you want and it should work. The owner of the console does not need to be the same person that owns the disc. Digital games are another case altogether though, you have to transport the whole console that was used to purchase the game on, not just a disc.

          I agree with the basic premise of what you’re saying, but there’s no denying that the entire process would be easier had the game simply been on a disc.

    • The problem is it is added DRM on local MP. If a 360 or a ps3 got disconnected from the internet in a tournament a message would pop up saying signed out of PSN or XBL. The game would not stop and return to a menu saying “DO YOU OWN THIS GAME OR APP”

  • We are surprised because?

    Honestly guys… if you people havent learned from Simcity and Diablo 3 then there really isn’t much to discuss except expect more of this unless someone can make a universal lagless unable to disconnect internet connection.

  • Owen, did you seriously not know this is how even the 360 and PS3 do it right now?

    PS4 too. It’s a digital game. Of course it has to be the home console, or the account using it needs to be the one that bought it.

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