The Xbox Series X update allows multiple discs to be played completely offline

The Xbox Series X update allows multiple discs to be played completely offline

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

When I first wrote about this issue last May, I noticed how the X Series hid the download of certain required configuration files behind a “Preparing game…” message when first loading a game to the affected disc. If the system was not connected to the Internet, however, Series X users would be presented with a “This game is not ready yet” error, preventing them from playing the game on disc altogether.

Fast forward to last week, when YouTuber Hikkomori Media noticed that the online recording had apparently been removed. Discs that previously failed to play 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 quietly released this change (without any specific mention in the release notes) in the 2208 system updates last month. “We have reviewed data since the launch of Series X|S and determined that online compatibility checking is not required in the vast majority of cases for Xbox One discs,” she said. “Some games may still need to be updated online after installation to ensure the best experience.”

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

This new update should ensure that discs from 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.

For Xbox One titles, however, game data can now be copied and played back from disc to the Xbox Series X hard drive, with no online connection required. Now if only Microsoft would remove the requirement that you “must be online when setting up Xbox for the first time”, offline gamers would really be in business.

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