Xbox Games Are Impossible To Manage
It’s about time Microsoft (Xbox Games) dragged itself into the 21st century as far as gaming is concerned, because if other game clients can facilitate the reinstallation of games, then so can Microsoft– IF they feel like it. Frankly, it’s incredibly annoying having to download your collection of games every time you reinstall Windows and here I’ll explain why you have to do this.
On Saturday I had to perform a clean Windows 10 install following an unrecoverable system crash, probably caused by a Windows update. The system installation process is a walk in the park compared to getting your Xbox games up and running again because Microsoft encrypts the games to such a degree that you don’t even have access to the game folders.
On the other hand, Steam, Epic Games, Uplay, Origin, GOG Galaxy, and others allow you to locate the game folder and point the client in the right direction. In fact, these other game clients allow you to move the game folder wherever you wish with no security restrictions whatsoever and help make the reinstallation process as pain-free as possible, without having to download the content all over again.
The key here is portability, allowing us total control over our content and when you have over 2TB of games scattered around numerous hard drives, imagine how long it would take to download all those gigabytes over a crappy Internet connection. But that is exactly what Microsoft expects you to do because it’s easier to hack a copy of Windows than it is to move one of their games from one drive to another. Indeed, you can move an Xbox game to another drive (see below) once it’s installed, but that’s as far as it goes. Heck, even Origin (Electronic Arts) allows you to locate the game if it’s already installed on your PC and it’s considered one of the worst gaming clients out there.
How To Identify An Xbox Game
Not only do you not have access to your Xbox game folders, but Microsoft’s naming conventions defy belief, quite frankly. For example, I have Forza Horizon 3 & 4, Forza Motorsport 7, Forza Apex, together with Rage 2 and Deliver Us The Moon, the last two being rented through GamePass and this is where it gets frustrating and totally nonsensical. The Forza Horizon 3 folder is named Microsoft Opus and Forza Horizon 4 is named Sunrise Base Game, but you don’t have access to those folders because Microsoft is paranoid that you might pirate them and upload them to some torrent site.
Fortunately, I have a little technical knowledge, having installed Windows 10 on my systems so often now that it’s becoming somewhat of a ritual to encounter the secret squirrel attitude of Microsoft. It’s also worth pointing out that I never make a note of where I install the games (I probably should under the circumstances) and usually boot to USB through WinPE which gives me access to the game folders without the Windows 10 permissions headache. The main issue here is that when you download the game again — which you will have to do, without question — you have no way of telling if you’re duplicating the game or if the existing folder is being overwritten. Welcome to the wonderful world of Microsoft gaming in the year 2020!
Anyway, this is how I’m able to identify the game folders through WinPE:
Through past experience, I happen to know that the folder Microsoft.Apollo.Base.Game is Forza Motorsport 7 (which bright spark thought of that one?) on my M.2 SATA drive and together with RAGE2, it’s taking up 143GB, which is something that Windows 10 won’t allow me to discover under any circumstances. Okay, you can probably reset the security permissions, as I have tried and failed at, but frankly, it’s simply not worth the time and headaches. Booting to Linux or WinPE is by far the better option because of Windows permissions.
At this point, having identified the correct location of the game(s), you would naturally assume that if you downloaded the game again, the existing folder would be overwritten, thus NOT creating a double installation. But no, says Microsoft, you have to prepare the drive which means deleting all the apps it currently contains.
What the actual f…does that mean? When I hit NO, I’m then taken to another nonsensical pop-up…
Try again in a bit??? What, next year?
Further, when I checked the error code 0x80004004, it refers to a completely unrelated Windows Defender issue, which kind of reminds of the Alien protecting itself with sulphuric acid for blood. Further, the message ‘Delete Other Apps?’ doesn’t even clarify which so-called apps the system is going to delete, so I hit NO. The reason being is that I have another fallback version of Windows running on that drive and it’s possible that the system would delete that, so it’s through the back door for me, since Microsoft is so frigging paranoid about its games. This issue has been around for years and whilst I have written glowingly about Xbox GamePass from a purely financial housekeeping point of view, that’s where my plaudits end with a resounding clang!
Microsoft – Give Us Control Over Our Games!
The biggest problem with the Microsoft/Xbox games setup is that managing the installations is all over the place. The above screenshot is from the Microsoft Store app which allows you to install games, but then so does the Xbox app and so does the settings page of Windows 1o itself. I would suggest that a single game client would be more appropriate with the added ability of being able to manage our games and move them around as other game clients allow us to do. As it stands, I’m going to have to download 300GB of games all over again, and frankly, this is not acceptable in this day and age.
Please, Microsoft, stop treating us like idiots and potential software thieves and fix the system!