Here’s how yesterday went for me: I turned on my Xbox Series X in anticipation of spending a few relaxing hours playing Fortnite. After seeing the game’s title screen, a system warning popped up telling me that I was unable to play due to an online connection error. I knew my Xbox was connected without any problems because I could see all online features on the home screen. I assumed this warning was a boot hiccup – something I experience from time to time when waking my console up again. I reset my Xbox, tried restarting Fortnite, and just as it seemed to connect, it booted back up and now got a warning that the person who owns this game needs to sign in.
At that point, I knew Xbox or Epic Games had a problem. I then tried playing Ravenous Devils – an offline single player game – and that too led to an ownership claim. I restarted my Xbox a second time and tried restarting both games. The same errors appeared. Xbox’s online service was down.
I haven’t closed my eyes. I checked Xbox’s Twitter to confirm the outage and run a support check on the console. Both information points told me that the service had issues with people trying to purchase and launch digital games. In the time when I thought Microsoft would have to fix the problems, I watched the first episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and the latest episode of Outer Reach. I felt that the more than two hours I spent on other entertainment (and eating a meal) would be enough for Microsoft to restore service. Microsoft is usually lightning fast with solutions. I was wrong. The service was still down. But again, I didn’t think much about it.
My last ditch effort to play Ravenous Devils (a game I’m reviewing) was to put my Xbox in offline mode. Since this is a single player experience, I figured there was a chance this stupid DRM handshake wouldn’t be required. I made sure my Xbox was set up as my home computer and went offline. Luckily the game didn’t require a handshake and I was able to select “Play offline”. Ravenous’ title screen started fine, but when I went into the game the title screen options didn’t go away, rendering the game unplayable. I tried restarting it twice and got the same weird error. I suspect the offline game didn’t get much attention during testing.
In this day and age of gaming, connection problems arise. Not often, but they’re common enough that I’m deaf to them. There’s no way I’m giving Microsoft a free pass. DRM and “Always Online” are a headache for most gamers. Not being able to play the games we pay for sucks, especially the single-player experiences that don’t require an internet connection.
While I wasn’t able to enjoy the games I wanted, my Xbox still had some life in it. Since I’ve set it as my home computer, most of the games I’ve downloaded are playable offline. After testing today I can confirm that Hades, Psychonauts 2 and Stardew Valley work well on Xbox consoles in offline mode. However, when I tried to play the Halo Infinite campaign, it didn’t register that I owned the game and wanted me to buy it again, which I couldn’t have done since I couldn’t connect to the store. It was another unusual offline-related bug.
To be prepared for the next outage, I recommend downloading and testing games to see if they’re playable offline. Think of them as an “emergency kit.” The well of compatible games runs deep. Some of these titles, like Elden Ring, won’t be the same without the online component, and you may encounter unforeseen issues like I have with others.
From Xbox to PlayStation, all consoles have different online and offline capabilities for their respective game libraries. These consoles are affected in different ways when their services go down. I know why DRM exists and understand why it’s being embraced, but I also despise it at moments like this. When a network goes down or certain functions within it are disrupted, players often feel in the dark as to what is happening.
I know what hurdles to jump through to research, where to look for information (both web and console) and understand which games are unplayable without that stupid DRM handshake. I suppose it’s a frustrating process of trial and error for most players. We need more transparency about what’s going on and better warnings letting players know they didn’t do anything wrong and that the problem is with the service. Xbox will issue an alert, but it should be front, center, and unavoidable if service is down. Getting a warning like “something is wrong, error code X235329drmsux320i” is neither informative nor helpful.
Now the good news: the service is back. Games can be played. Shows can be watched. And each outage will hopefully bring further improvements from Microsoft. The always-connected world is here forever. We just need to know how to row our boats when the water gets turbulent.
This article was previously published on Source link