January 27, 2023

Browsing through your Xbox game library can make it difficult to determine which games you can currently play – maybe you downloaded something from Game Pass but it’s no longer available, or your friend came over to get a game and took the disc it had in their house. Microsoft is currently testing a fix for this problem, with badges warning you that a game won’t launch, 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, such as the home screen or the game library. If you’re unable to play a game due to licensing issues, such as being removed from Game Pass or if you’re not currently signed in to the Xbox Live account associated with the game, you’ll see an exclamation mark on the thumbnail . If you need to insert a disc before playing a game, a crossed-out disc icon will appear. Currently, the test for people in the Xbox Alpha & Alpha Skip-Ahead Insider Groupswhich Microsoft says are usually “by invitation only.”

It seems like a handy feature, letting you know at a glance which games in your library you can actually play, so you can avoid the situation where you see a game in your library and get excited to play it just to get a (possibly less-than-useful) error message.

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Asked if the test would make those error messages clearer or if the system would respond to something like an Xbox Live outage that would temporarily prevent games from launching, Marie said the team “will continue to try to improve the error messages that appear when an error occurs. game fails to launch to be more specific and clear.” She continued, saying that “a few new bug types are included in this test, but others (like exactly recognizing 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 in recent years, so it’s nice to see console makers starting to address some of the confusion players may face. While it would be nice to see things like buttons that let you easily remove content you can no longer play from your library, such as one commenter suggestedsaid Marie in a follow-up tweet that there will be other improvements in the future and that the icons being tested are a “necessary first step”.