Away: An Analysis into Offline Gaming on Xbox One

When the Xbox One was revealed in May 2013, I don’t think it was any secret that I, along with many others, were curious as to how exactly the Xbox One would operate, and if it would even be in any kind of usable state. Even more so when Microsoft announced that the “always online” functionality had been simply removed from the Xbox One’s core operating system after much backlash at E3 2013.

So, I took my Xbox One offline, to test whether or not this would be feasible for everyday usage. Long story short: It isn’t. Not in the slightest. Even with the latest update installed, I ran into consistent errors with the most rudimentary of tasks.

One, my saved games would not load. Not at all. If I didn’t play the game before taking my Xbox One offline, I just could not play it. This is due in part to Microsoft’s cloud saving system on Xbox One, which doesn’t save to the cloud rather than the hard drive. Why? I guess the argument here would be that since everything is “always online” these days, why would we need to save to the hard drive? Well, the simple answer is, that, believe it or not, some gamers out there don’t have the best Internet connections, and sometimes, it’s better to play offline than online, because we don’t have to deal with harassment, which is a topic for another time, I think.

Two, my Achievements would not load. I didn’t quite figure out what was going on with this exactly, but I think it’s due to the way apps work on Xbox One. Without an Internet connection, you simply cannot look at anything. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If I’ve already earned the achievement, art and all, why can’t I just look at it? Is the Xbox One incapable of creating an image cache or something? Let me know, Microsoft. Please. There seems like so many better ways to fetch Achievements.

Are you noticing a pattern yet? Well, unfortunately, I’m not finished, oh no, I’m just getting started.

The most egregious of all, you cannot play disc-based backwards compatible games. No, you read that right. Just now, I took my Xbox One offline again, just to see if it work and sure enough, the error message reads “To start The Stick of Truth, we need to connect to Xbox Live. Make sure your Xbox is online, then sign in and try again.” What does that even mean? Does Microsoft run some sort of verification on disc-based backwards compatible titles? If so, why? What does Microsoft benefit from this? It’s dumbfounding to think of, much less implement.

Your Pins don’t work either. You see the Pin, but not the key art associated with that Pin, even if that pinned item is installed on your hard drive. The art is already there, why not utilize it by having the same key art for both? Better yet, why not have them access the same cache within the system’s memory?

You might chuckle at this next one, fair warning. If you have a problem with your Xbox One, you are out of luck, as the Help application does not work, because, yet again, you need to be connected to the Internet for it to work. What if I need to know, just really quick, how to change my resolution settings, what if I need to know how to update my Xbox One? What would I do then? Assuming I don’t have access to a computer or the Internet, what am I, as a consumer, able to do? Am I just to sit and not play a video game? Guess so, because I want to do something, but I can’t figure out how to do it, and the console I spent upwards of $400 on doesn’t tell me how to perform simple tasks, such as this? That same person would probably sell it however he or she could, because in this day and age, that’s utterly ridiculous not to have, especially in the endless packets of welcome material associated with buying a new piece of hardware.

Don’t expect to be able to view your screenshots or videos, either. I don’t know exactly why these aren’t saved to the hard drive, yet again, but I have a feeling that a lot of the saving to HDD vs. Internet OS meetings were simply, “If the user isn’t online and it saves space, put it online-only.”

Now, I’m not saying Microsoft is evil, these operating system compromises are frankly too large to not call out. If you want to save hard drive space, do it, just don’t forget about the people who might not have access to the Internet or want to be online. These are your consumers, Microsoft, please do not alienate your fan base you’ve worked all these years to build.

I’ll be submitting some ideas to Microsoft, and make them aware of this article for the purposes of bettering the Xbox One console, which should be in their best interest, considering the millions of dollars of research and development that went into this monolith of a gaming console.

Do you have any comments, ideas, or anything of the sort? Tweet me @AustinBelzer, and I’ll get back to when I can, or just simply comment down below.


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