Though the shift to digital goods provides a number of quality-of-life benefits to the consumer thanks to improved accessibility and mobility, the benefits of the digital era wane when contrasted with its potential detriments. Xbox Live has recently been subject to serious outages, which raises important questions with regard to the long-term feasibility of a fully digital console.
Xbox Live Outages
Over the past few days, Xbox Live has been subject to a litany of problems that have understandably irked the affected playerbase. Some Xbox Live users reported the service being down for upwards of 12 hours. While the service was eventually brought back up for most players, others reported subsequent issues and downtime lasting for hours.
However, these problems were not just limited to a blanket service downtime. Many users have been unable to download Xbox Live Games With Gold titles, launch Game Pass titles, and access their digital game library as a result of the recent network problems. While normal service has gradually started to resume as these issues get fixed, the sheer scale of outages and problems that the past few days have fostered has started a dialogue regarding the efficacy of digital console gaming.
Problems With the Digital Era and the Xbox Series S
The most glaring issue regarding the digital era of games that was brought to the forefront over the past few days of Xbox Live problems is how dependant the industry is with online services. In the case of Xbox Live, users were suddenly disillusioned by just how much of their console-based gaming experience is reliant on working servers and an established Internet connection, even if online functionality should theoretically not be required.
Without an established connection to Xbox Live, players found their accounts completely unable to verify their membership statuses to a litany of services. That means the entirety of their Xbox Game Pass library was made obsolete, as well as any games that were purchased in a digital form via the Xbox store. With a large amount of users conducting the majority of their gaming via these mediums, their entire console may become essentially useless while these kinds of network issues are impacting the experience.
This severity is only compounded when players take the popular Xbox Series S console into consideration. This current-gen console is a more affordable alternative to the Xbox Series X, with less capable internal hardware and no physical disc drive. By design, all games owned on a Series S console can only come from digital online sources, making it entirely reliant on digital media. The same can be said for certain digital-only models of Sony’s PlayStation 5.