Xbox Live experienced its second outage of the week today, eliciting rage and frustration from gamers all across Twitter who were trying to get a jump on the long Labor Day weekend fun. However, these outages don't just affect games — streaming services like Spotify, Plex, and even Amazon Video are inaccessible every time Xbox Live goes down as well.
If you count yourself among the cord cutting crowd and use an Xbox One as your go-to streaming box, that means you're entirely at the whim of Xbox Live's server stability. But why the hell, in 2019, does Microsoft still require Xbox Live to be up and running for you to jump in and binge a season of Bosch?
For games, this makes total sense. The entire multiplayer infrastructure for Xbox One games is based on Xbox Live. If it's down, you'll just have to do without Fortnite for however long it takes Microsoft's engineers to get things back up and running. But for streaming services, which have their own infrastructure, and for which you're already paying a separate subscription fee, there's no discernible reason from the consumer's perspective to have these services dependent on Xbox Live.
It's time for Microsoft to fully decouple video streaming from its gaming infrastructure.
The answer likely has something to do with the way streaming apps used to work on Xbox One. Going back to the Xbox 360 days, Microsoft used to require an active Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to stream media from apps like Netflix. The Xbox One initially launched with this requirement still in place, but, coming to terms with how ludicrous it was to add another subscription fee on top of whatever you were already shelling out for entertainment services, Microsoft dropped that requirement in 2014.
Despite that decoupling, the service outages this week have made it painfully clear just how dependent streaming apps are on the health of Xbox Live. If these outages were just an occasional blip, it probably wouldn't be as big of a deal. But this is the second time this week we've seen Xbox Live go down, and it's taken out streaming apps both times.
Issues like this highlight the inherent problems in selling Xbox as a jack-of-all-trades device as well, as was Microsoft's initial strategy with the Xbox One before it caught a ton of blowback from gamers for focusing too much on the console's TV and media capabilities and not enough on games. There are myriad other TV dongles and streaming boxes, like the Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV that simply do streaming much better.
If Microsoft is going to continue to push the Xbox One as a viable streaming box, in addition to its central gaming capabilities, it's time to cut streaming apps loose from Xbox Live.
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