Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Xbox Series X update allows more discs to be played fully offline

Microsoft has quietly updated its Xbox Series X system software to remove the need for a one-time online check in before playing Xbox One discs and certain “Smart Delivery” cross-generation discs.

When we first wrote about this issue last May, we noted how the Series X hid the download of certain required config files behind a “Getting your game ready…” message during the first load of an affected disc-based game. If the system wasn’t connected to the Internet, though, Series X users would be presented with a “This game isn’t ready yet” error, completely preventing them from playing their disc-based game.

Fast forward to last week, when YouTuber Hikkomori Media noticed that the online check-in had apparently been removed. Discs that previously presented an error when run offline can now be installed and played directly from the disc, even if the system has no Internet connection.

Responding to a tweet about that video this week, Xbox Engineering Lead Eden Marie confirmed that Microsoft had quietly rolled out this change (without any specific mention in the release notes) in the system’s 2208 updates last month. “We examined data since Series X|S launch & determined the online compatibility check isn’t needed in the vast majority of cases for Xbox One discs,” she said. “Some games may still need to be updated online after install to ensure the best experience.”

Unfortunately, backward-compatible discs from before the Xbox One era will still require online access and a download to be playable on later hardware. That’s because those games don’t use any data from the disc itself for backward compatibility but instead rely on a completely separate downloadable copy that can run through a special emulation layer.

This new update should ensure that discs from the Xbox One (and later) should continue to work on any Xbox Series X, even if and when Microsoft stops supporting the console with its online servers altogether.

For Xbox One titles, though, the game data can now be copied and played from the disc to the Xbox Series X hard drive, without any online connection necessary. Now, if only Microsoft would remove the requirement that “you must be online when you set up Xbox for the first time,” disconnected gamers would really be in business.

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