Scrolling through your Xbox game library, it can be difficult to tell which games you can actually play at the moment — perhaps you downloaded something from Game Pass, but it’s no longer on the service, or your friend came over to play a game and took the disc it was on home with them. Microsoft is currently testing a solution to this problem, with badges that will warn you that a game can’t be launched, according to Xbox engineering lead Eden Marie.
In a Twitter thread, Marie explains that the feature adds two badges on screens where you see games, like the homescreen or game library. If you can’t play a game because of licensing issues — say, it was taken off of Game Pass, or you’re currently not logged into the Xbox Live account associated with the game — you’ll see an exclamation mark on its thumbnail. If you need to insert a disc before playing a game, it’ll show an icon with a crossed-out disc. Currently, the test is for people in the Xbox Alpha & Alpha Skip-Ahead Insider groups, which Microsoft says are usually “invite-only.”
In this screen, Resident Evil 3 and Resident Evil Resistance are disc installs where the disc isn’t currently inserted, Rain On Your Parade previously left Game Pass, and Steep belongs to a user that isn’t signed in (and this isn’t their Home Xbox). pic.twitter.com/yvxk3WAf7E
— Eden Marie (@neonepiphany) July 25, 2022
It seems like a useful feature, letting you know at a glance which games in your library you can actually play, helping you avoid the situation where you see a game in your library and get excited to play it, only to receive a (potentially less-than-helpful) error message.
When asked if the test would make those error messages clearer or if the system would respond to something like an Xbox Live outage that temporarily makes games unlaunchable, Marie said that the team will “continue to try and improve the error messages that appear when a game fails to launch to be more specific and clear.” She continued, saying that “a few new error types are included with this test, but others (like recognizing exactly that a game has left Game Pass) will require more work in upcoming releases.”
What it means to “own a game” has gotten a bit more complicated over the past few years, so it’s nice to see that console makers are starting to address some of the confusion that players could face. While it’d be nice to see things like buttons that let you easily remove content you can no longer play from your library, as one commenter suggested, Marie said in a follow-up tweet that there’ll be other improvements in the future and that the icons being tested are a “necessary first step.”