Titanfall: A Launch Day Experience

Xbox One Titanfall bundle, released March 11, 2014
Image from Gamestop.com

Our expectations late Tuesday afternoon didn’t differ from many who picked up their new Xbox One Titanfall bundles after work. Though there was a sizable a crowd in the Gamestop that afternoon, we got our system without incident. On the way home we discussed its placement and talked about how much we looked forward to finally seeing what the next gen was all about.

We got home around dinner time, and we barely dropped our work bags before heading to the den with the Xbox One. After getting the thing out of the box, placed on the shelf, and plugged in to all the proper outlets, we fired it up. The console itself was eerily silent as we went through the initial setup. Date and time. Sound. A few more calibrations, and we were on our way to setting up our accounts!

Yeah. Sure.

Our happy moods were quickly dampened when we got an error upon attempting to sign in. The device said that it could connect to our home network. Um…okay. We double checked all the connection, rebooted the router, and even went online with our router to make sure that everything was in proper order.  It was, so back to signing in we went. No go. So we bypassed the initial sign in screen and went directly to the Xbox One home screen. It offered a couple places to sign in, but we just got the same error message upon trying to do so. It was incredibly frustrating since the message made it sound like the problem was on our end; however, other features, such as the browser and search functions, worked just fine. So the thing was connected to the Internet, and nothing was wrong with our connection. The problem was somewhere within the Xbox Live service. It had to be. In a huff, we turned the thing off and took a break for dinner.

During dinner we talked about all the possible problems. The Xbox servers were probably overloaded from all the Titanfall buyers trying to log in at once.  Maybe Microsoft wasn’t prepared for its “biggest and most important game of the year” to be all that successful. (Also, sarcasm.) Maybe it really was our router, which had been having bandwidth problems of late. Whatever the cause, we went right back to figuring things out once dinner ended.

We spent a long and very upsetting hour doing everything we could think of to connect to Xbox Live. We cycled and re-cycled the router again (and again). We cycled and re-cycled the console again (and again). We tested the Xbox 360 connection. (It functioned fine.)  We checked and re-checked the cables. (Good there.) All of it was to no avail.  So then we turned to the Internet and went to the Xbox Status page.

Ah ha! So it was Microsoft’s problem!

According to xbox.com/status, Xbox Live Core Services had been somehow impaired, which was affecting the log in system. The problem had been reported (a lot, apparently) and they were “hard at work” trying to find a solution. Updates were promised every 30 minutes. Well, okay. Y’know, there are times on public transportation when your train just stops for no good reason. And you sit there and wait for some sort of announcement to happen, and it never does. So you sit and you grumble and you sit some more until the train finally starts moving. But it almost doesn’t matter because you’re mood for the day is completely ruined. That’s how this ordeal felt except that the train never moved again….at least not for us that evening. The “30 minute updates” were little more than a change in wording, and they always ended in how “hard at work” “they” were in trying to fix things. After a couple hours of not being able to connect, the situation became infuriating.

So then we turned to Twitter, that wonderful land of smiles and snark. And oh my, were people upset. I mean, we thought we were upset, but we were no match for the thousands who took to social networks to hurl a few choice words at Microsoft. The anger, it was swift and it was violent. And it was sometimes quite funny. My personal favorite tweet involved the relationship between how much Titanfall one could currently play on their Xbox One as on a PlayStation 4. See, it’s funny, because Titanfall isn’t on the…oh nevermind.

The fact of the matter was that lots and lots of people couldn’t play Titanfall on launch day. Lots and lots of people, like us, who waited to get a next gen system until something reasonably new came out had essentially bought a $500 brick, paperweight, or other useless, heavy object. Oh, sure, we played around with the tiles on the home page, tested out voice commands, and watched a few trailers. But Titanfall playing? Nope. Not for us. Not for any of us.

By the time we went to bed, the Xbox Live sign in service still hadn’t been fixed, but oh, they were still “hard at work,” surely. By Wednesday morning, it seemed everything had been fixed. When we tried logging in Wednesday evening, we were able to without incident. We hit a few bumps trying to the the game itself installed and started, but soon enough the screen was filled with beautiful chaos. My, Titanfall is a pretty, pretty game.

It was reported over Tuesday evening and Wednesday that the crash wasn’t due to Titanfall, but that the Xbox One cloud server crashed. But really, it was…kind of, sort of…due to Titanfall, right? I mean it’s quite a coincidence that on the day when potentially millions of people tried to all log to play a single game that the safe and effective “cloud” (Microsoft Azure, in this case) should suddenly dissipate, right? Don’t look at me…I’m no conspiracy theorist.

We’ve all experience, watched, or read about similar server problems with big game launches – a number ofCall of Duty games come to mind, as well as the recent SimCity mess. But Titanfall is not part of an established franchise – it is a totally new game, a new IP – and it’s supposed to be that one killer game that makes all the difference for the Xbox One, which has been lagging a bit behind the PlayStation 4. I’m not looking for sympathy; these things are just bound to happen. Technology has failed us time and again at key moments; it’s something we live with. But that doesn’t make it right. for the moment, all that comes to the mind of this decades-long Microsoft user and fan of the Xbox 360 is one word that best describes the first day of Titanfall in our house: FAIL.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. duckofindeed says:

    How annoying! I hate issues like that. People were so excited about that game; you’d think Microsoft should have been “hard at work” making sure this didn’t happen to begin with. But, I’m just the kind of person who thinks problems should be, you know, prevented. (My computer went through a phase where it swore up and down it had no Internet access, and it kept switching networks for no apparent reason. First, it thought I was at home, but the Internet still didn’t work, then it was certain I was in a public network, no wait, it thinks I’m back at, no, it thinks I’m in a public network again.)
    Technology. That’s why I love the old consoles with no Internet access to begin with. There are less ways for it to go wrong. Who’s going to stop me from playing “Banjo-Tooie” on the N64? No one!

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    1. cary says:

      During the process, at one point my husband turned to me and said “remember when you said you missed being able to just put a game in a system and play? Yeah. Me too.” The whole thing was so silly, but in the moment it really felt like we had brought something that was broken. We didn’t get any other games other than Titanfall, and we couldn’t download anything to play simply because we couldn’t connect to Microsoft’s cloud. I know you have to take the good with the bad in life, but when you drop lots of money on as machine, you simply expect it to work.

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  2. Mileson says:

    I’ve been playing an absurd amount of Titanfall the last couple days. If you guys wanna party up and play sometime, shoot me a friend request on Xbox Live!

    I Mileson I

    Like

    1. cary says:

      Oh cool, thanks for the offer!

      Like

  3. Hatm0nster says:

    It’s like there’s a rule governing launch days that says they can’t go right. Judging by the outrage at not being able to play, the game sounds like it would be pretty fun at least.

    (I just got the game, so I’m hoping it’s as fun as the reviews have been indicating. 🙂 )

    Like

    1. cary says:

      Right now I’ve kept to watching matches, and they’re pretty intense. I will say that the game looks tremendous and the detail in it is absolutely outstanding. I’d definitely say that everyone playing is having a really good time. 🙂

      Like

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