Analysis, Gaming

The Problem With Digital Downloads on the Xbox One And PS4

Xbox Games Store

Xbox One: Let the waiting begin

The Xbox One fares a bit better than the PlayStation 4, but its physical install speeds are pretty bad. Coming home and firing up your console, only having to wait…and wait…and wait before you can play your game isn’t progress–it’s something we’d expect in the olden days of gaming.

In the case of the recently released Halo: Master Chief Collection, the trials and tribulations of physical installs converge with the ridiculous download rates of digital. In order to play the Master Chief Collection Xbox One owners had to download a 20GB day-on patch ontop of the already long waits of the disc install. Ouch.

So I spent hours upon hours intermittenly checking the download. At a certain portion, the game allowed me to jump in and start playing, but this proved to be a trick, as no actual portions of the singleplayer campaign were installed yet. The multiplayer maps wouldn’t be done for quite some time–those will take forever.

I knew about the day-one patch, and I expecting a wait. But this…this was an experience that frustrated me. After spending almost a hundred dollars on a single game, I couldn’t even play it six hours later.

As mentioned above the Xbox One also has play-as-you-download, and it’ll interrupt your progress if you catch up to its download threshold. This is inane and very much like that dreaded buffering wheel that keeps you waiting for your content. But this is worse: this is content you paid good money for, this is something you own.


Apologies for the low-quality picture. The Xbox One doesn’t let you take screenshots yet, and I wasn’t able to record the homescreen with the Game DVR, so I had to improvise.

The Xbox One will show you a full percentage bar, but it won’t show you how fast things are downloading. This was the case for both MCC and Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Black Flag. So I essentially just let it download and went off and did other things, not in a hurry to play right away.

But that’s the problem: gamers shouldn’t have to put off their anticipation when they own a game. They should be excited and be able to play it the instant they put it in their console. This kind of waiting is ruining the magic of gaming, and it’s sucking the soul out of the industry. It needs fixed, and it needs fixed now.

Furthermore it’s worth noting that the Xbox LIVE servers have been touted by Microsoft as being top-of-the-line and capable of taking some pretty strenuous bandwidth. But in the case of one of the year’s most anticipated Xbox One exclusives, the online servers was hindered to a snail-crawl, throttling downloads at a merciless speed.

How can we expect it to fare when big-name games like Halo 5: Guardians come out? Will this happen again with further AAA exclusives? Will gamers have to bridge the cumbersome gap by taking the burdens of both the physical and digital realms?

(Photo via: Win Super Site)

(Photo via: Win Super Site)