XBox Live.com Lameness

  By Shamus   Feb 11, 2009   45 comments

Here is the Xbox Live homepage as of right now in Firefox:

xbl_ff.jpg

And here is the same page in IE7:

xbl_ie.jpg

I first noticed this yesterday. That is just amazingly stupid and lame. Note that the entire live.xbox.com page acts this way. No matter what link I click on, it waits a fortnight or two and then comes back with “Page Unavailable”.

I can access the site using IE, although it still loads agonizingly slow. The only reason I wanted to bother is because:

  1. In Fable 2, there is a chest you encounter very early in the game that tells you to go to Fable 2.com to learn how to open it.
  2. Fable 2.com redirects to the XBL site.
  3. The XBL site doesn’t work with Firefox. (Version 3.0.5)
  4. Visiting the site with IE will get it to load, albeit with a load time measured in minutes.
  5. Once the page is loaded, there is nothing whatsoever about this chest, anywhere that I can see.
  6. Googling about reveals that opening the chest involves playing some Flash-based game on their site. Chicken kicker or somesuch. I no longer care about the damn chest, and am only enduring this to see how far down the rabbit hole this fool’s errand leads.
  7. Answer: This far. The chicken game doesn’t load, even using IE7. I just get a big old blank window. No prompt, no error.

The game has been out, what? Not quite fourth months yet?

It was foolish to build a URL into a game like that. The concept was hopelessly lame, even if it worked right. And it was pathetic how ineptly the whole thing crapped itself when I tried to check it out. There is a certain beauty in how completely and utterly they managed to fail at something so mundane.

Just out of curiosity: Can anyone confirm the Firebox / IE behavior I observed?

EDIT: Looks like I’m the only one with loading issues. Odd, since everything else loads with flawless alacrity, but you can’t argue with results.

Fine, their website isn’t completely screwed.

But putting a URL in a game is still a Bad Idea.

20205Feeling chatty? There are 45 comments.


  1. Annon says:

    Using FireFox 3.0.6, I can load all of the live.xbox.com page and the fable2.com page as well. I have no trouble with chicken kickin’ as well. Took me along the order of thirty seconds to load through all of them.

    Although….interestingly, it seems to be saying I am too young to play, even though I am 23…

    EDIT: Never mind, I was entering the day and month of my birthday backwards…

    EDIT2: Holy crap, I have rarely seen a worse-done flash game, and that is saying a whole lot. You didn’t miss anything, Shamus…

  2. Johan says:

    Perhaps it has Robin Williams doing voice acting and all the pop culture allusions will go right over your head.

    EDIT: never mind then.

  3. ZMOG says:

    Works like a charm on FF 3.0.6/Linux.
    I guess your connection got bad…

  4. Ferrous Buller says:

    Seems to work for me. Maybe you’ve got a FF extension or a firewall setting somewhere which is effing it up?

  5. Adeon says:

    There’s a useful add-on for Firefox called IE Tab that allows you to render web pages using whatever version of IE you have installed without having to exit Firefox. Doesn’t sounds like it would have helped much in this case since IE didn’t really work but it’s still useful for those website that haven’t gotten the memo about people’s fondness for Firefox.

  6. João says:

    works fine for me. Site loads in about 10 seconds in IE7, and even faster in Firefox 3.0.6…

    Might you be having connection problems? maybe at the ISP level (transparent proxy maybe)?

    PS: this is, I believe… the fifth time I load IE since I installed this machine 1 – 1,5 years ago…

  7. That /is/ weird. I can confirm it works fine for me as well on Fx3. Maybe you need to install silverlight for Fx? I still wouldn’t expect that page tho..

    I second the call for IETab though, it’s incredibly useful, and you can set up patterns that automatically load in IETab.

  8. Zel says:

    The US Xbox Live page loads fine from France with Firefox 3.0.6 and without IETab, at very decent speed, and with all scripts disabled so it’s no Silverlight/Javascript/Flash issue. Sounds like your problems comes from your connection/ISP as has been said before.

  9. MintSkittle says:

    For some reason, this reminds me of the “strategy guide” for Final Fantasy IX, which had very little useful info in it, just codes you would enter in their play online site to find what you were looking for. And you needed the codes because they made the site impossible to use without them.

    EDIT: Firefox 3.0.6 here, and the XBL page loads fine.

  10. scragar says:

    I can confirm that the XBL site works fine on firefox 3.0.6 for linux, although I’m running no-script, which might have something to do with it.

    EDIT: oh, and my userAgent string reads “My penguin told me to run Linux” – so I doubt useragent is anything to do with it.

  11. vdgmprgrmr says:

    Ew…

    URL in-game content = stupid.

    Really. I mean, it appears the immersion in this game was bad enough, but when you’re acting a medieval house-buyer, seeing “Hey, how ’bout you use your magic box and type fable2.com into it for some dumb reason!” is just retarded.

  12. Magnus says:

    On the subject of web-based content within games, this is surely some sort of attempt to seem “new” and “innovative” and “web-based” because thats what the kids want these days? right?

    Is there any option for those who wouldn’t have a web connection? People without web access surely exist, and I’m sure some of them even enjoy playing games… although they’d have to stear clear of quite a few new PC ones.

  13. Klay says:

    At first I thought, this is the kind of move I would expect Microsoft to pull, not letting anyone access XBL with using IE.

  14. JKjoker says:

    im using 3.0.6 and it works perfectly even with the site blocked by noscript

    maybe its one of your firefox plugins messing with the site ?

  15. Edtopia says:

    Speaking of URLs in games, Doom 3’s martianbuddy.com is still up. I found that more amusing than annoying, possibly because it doesn’t require you to play a crappy flash game.

  16. Derek K. says:

    I’ll second IETab – I use it and love it.

  17. Wyvern says:

    I just picked up Fable 2 and started playing this last weekend, and I had the same experience (well… not the browser part). Fable2.com doesn’t mention this in any clear manner… this is goofy. So… you really have to play the chicken game? How does one figure that out?

  18. WWWebb says:

    On the other hand, I had never heard of live.xbox.com in my six months of xbox ownership, so the marketing is apparently needed…

  19. Bill says:

    Didn’t Doom 3 have a URL for an in-game corporation that then had the code to open a locker? At the time I thought it was pretty cool, but then it was a URL in a sci-fi game instead of a fantasy game. So it is much more in the same genre.

  20. skizelo says:

    Typo midway through the article: “Not quite fourth months yet”.
    Cheer up, Microsoft has a personal vendetta against you. Classic sign that you’ve made it.

  21. Gandaug says:

    Yes, Doom 3 did have a url thing going. martianbuddy.com Edtopia at comment 15 mentioned it.

    On a side note I think I may be the only person in the world these days that doesn’t see the big deal about Firefox.

  22. Kell says:

    I put a URL in my first Quake single-player custom map pack. I wasn’t aware it had ever been done in a retail game, though it probably had by then. I just thought it was a good way to end my episode. Yes, end.

    The webpage contained flavour text about the maps I’d built that was enjoyed by those players who are interested in that sort of thing, and ignored by those who aren’t. There was no requirement to know the information to complete any part of the pack, not even trivial things. That’s part of the reason I didn’t reveal the URL until near the end.

    Also on the webpage was information – both hints and explicit walkthroughs – for all of the secrets I’d built into the maps. None of the secrets required this supplemental information to find – they were ordinary secrets of the type one expects in a Quake map. Players could read just the general hints, then return to the pack and play through attempting to find more secrets. Or check the walkthroughs for specifics. Or none of the above.

    This was a free mod, made with limited tech and gameplay and I’m not a professional. But it was phenomenally well received.

    I stand by it as a great addition to the experience of that pack ( and it was undoubtedly preferable to any attempt at ‘story’ ). URLs in games are not a Bad Idea: thoughtless, inappropriate gimmicks are.

    Frankly it appals me that something like this could be so hamfistedly screwed up by pro devs on a major title. Do they even care about their craft? Do we?

  23. Kyre says:

    What they were going for, with this, was not as much ‘force a person playing Fable 2 to play the game to get something’ as much as ‘allow people who visit the site before it’s released to get a bonus once the game’s released’. As far as I know, though, they no longer work…making the game, which does suck, and the storybook, which also sucks, worthless.

  24. Ranneko says:

    If I try to go to the xbox.live.com in Opera, it immediately assumes that I am after the japanese site.

    If I go there in Safari it takes me to the US site.

    My IP should indicate to their servers that I am in Australia… and indeed it does in IE6 on my XP VM.

  25. Pidmon says:

    Worst part is, if you’re going for Completionist, you need one of the expression books… which can only be gained through the flash game. The horribly slow flash game.

    What’s more annoying is that my character somehow stopped getting achievements for Fable 2… or at least, it decided not to give me Completionist and the Knothole Glade quest achievement.

  26. GeneralBob says:

    There’s actually a FF extension that embeds an IE tab in FF.

    I don’t think it actually keeps any of the shining features of firefox, but at least I don’t need an IE shortcut on my desktop.

  27. Lain says:

    “There is a certain beauty in how completely and utterly they managed to fail at something so mundane. ”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    I really love that sentence. Its beautiful too, rhetorical deeply evil and sooo true.

    Keep on going, Shamus!

  28. Zaxares says:

    Others have already mentioned the http://www.martianbuddy.com URL in Doom 3. It totally BAFFLED me at first because it was the first time I’d ever run into a game expecting me to literally go onto the Web and look up a URL. I kept expecting to find a computer terminal in the game somewhere that would let me find out the password.

    It was a fun little exercise, but a little immersion breaking.

  29. wererogue says:

    Doom 3 did have a URL to open an in-game locker, and I thought it was a great idea… except that to use it, you had to drop out of doom 3, go to the url, write down the code, go back into the game and open the locker. Which struck me as stupid mostly because the main character has a sodding PDA.

  30. nah says:

    Which struck me as stupid mostly because the main character has a sodding PDA.
    But his PDA wasnt IPOT enabled (IP over time) and hence couldnt reach the 20-21th century site.

  31. vdgmprgrmr says:

    A few new things…

    The bit about Doom 3’s character having a PDA so he should be able to check the internet on it… that could actually be pretty interesting. If a game had a simulated internet browser where you could check manipulated versions of popular sites like Google or the developer’s website. They could even include little easter-egg type things with search engines, where if you search for certain keywords found in the game you find some weird in-joke as a result.

    Next, does anyone else notice that the XBox 360’s reflection in the Firefox example is wrong? The disk drive is above the power button on the top, so it should be the reverse in the reflection, but it’s not.

  32. Solid Jake says:

    This sort of thing reminds me of Startropics on the NES. Only instead of the internet and one chest it was a “letter” that you got with the game that you had to dip into water to reveal a secret message with a code (747. I will remember that until the day I die.) which allowed you to continue the game.

    This was in 1990, so unless you kept the letter (as I did) or had a subscription to Ninendo Power you were rather thoroughly boned.

    Anyway, I gotta know: what was in the chest that was so special it had to be guarded with a URL?

  33. Jean says:

    Hi there
    I got Fable 2 a few months ago and did some research on that chest…
    There used to be a few flash game about Fable 2 before the game’s release, and these games were also available on XBL Arcade, just as they are now.

    Basically, it’s the same as the in-game pub games…
    You’ve better off buying the entire city if you want money, in my opinion. :P

    Hopefully, that might answer your question.

    I tried finding the flash games again but I think they’ve been removed.

    http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/f/fable2pubgamesxboxlivearcade/

  34. Binks says:

    Works fine for me as well. Do you have any extensions that might be causing this? It gave me a small error (not the same) when my cookie blocking extension blocked their cookie, and noscript might cause that. Other than that I have no idea, it’s obviously not anything further upstream as your IE works to load it, which wouldn’t make sense if it was something not related to your copy of FF.

    One other possibility is that FF failed once to load the page, then has been loading it from cache. May want to clear your cache just to see (since it takes about 3 seconds and a mouse click).

  35. Jean says:

    Hah, sorry.
    I saw you answered your own ‘question’.
    The Fable2 part anyways…
    So busy at work I only half-read the entry.

    My apologies. :P

  36. Chris says:

    The chest actually has two or three purposes.

    If you get the Limited Edition of Fable 2, you are given an Xbox Marketplace coupon code to download some bonus stuff (basically, a Master Chief armor set and Elite Sword that is very quickly beaten in quality by other weapons, and I think maybe a couple of other things).

    The chicken kicker game gives you the chicken outfit and nothing more.

    The Flash game gives you four items I believe, though I forget which ones. Two for good and two for bad. It was also available before the release of the game, so it was more like viral marketing.

    So basically, it’s mostly useful if 1) you want the completionist achievement, or 2) got the Limited Edition and actually like the look of the Spartan armor.

  37. Matt C. says:

    WARNING: Mildly censored bad words ahead. Sensitive viewers are encouraged to skip this post.

    I’m not at all surprised that there are issues with a Microsoft-family product and third party software. When Chrome came out it worked perfectly with Hotmail. After a brief period Hotmail got an “enchancement” and, by a staggering coincidence, no longer played nicely with Chrome. I was able to use Firefox to get in but the blatant f*ck*ry on Hotmail’s part in this still… just… gah! I have no words for it!

    I’m also not surprised that a game as poorly written as Fable 2 would require massive fourth wall breaking in order to 100% complete the game.

  38. Armagrodden says:

    The flash game gave you five items. On the useless side it gave you the chicken suit, a tattoo, and some dye. You could also, however, get a hero doll (which I understand is not available at the shooting range and is needed for the Dollcatcher achievement) and an expression book (needed for the Completionist achievement). I got both of them, and they immediately became available in the shops of my game world, so if anyone wants them I would be willing to trade with them for hero dolls. ;)

  39. Rick C says:

    Flash games on websites? Isn’t avoidign this nonsense what we have GameFaqs for?

    http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/file/927246/54583

  40. Mario says:

    Matt C.: Hotmail works for me on Chrome now (as of about two weeks ago, I think). It’s possible Microsoft hasn’t noticed yet.

  41. ryanlb says:

    The only trouble I’ve had with xbox live and firefox is that no matter if you select ‘Remember my Email’ or ‘Remember my email and password’ it does neither. I hadn’t thought to see if it works in IE7 until now, but hell if I’m going to use IE for just one site.

  42. Rob says:

    Hey, I just encountered the same problem myself and figured out exactly what it was. The site reads the user-agent string and makes the site available based on whether or not you’re using IE. You can spoof your user-agent string in various browsers. I found these two guides:
    For most browsers:
    http://www.walkernews.net/2007/07/05/how-to-change-user-agent-string/

    For Google Chrome:
    http://www.walkernews.net/2007/07/05/how-to-change-user-agent-string/

    And you want to change it to :
    XP SP2, “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1)”
    Vista, “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)”

  43. Scizor says:

    I don’t believe it’s the chicken chaser minigame you need to play. Rather, it’s the Create-your-own-story ripoff which is admittedly pretty cool and yields different items depending on your choices (up to six different items, including an entire outfit and supposedly a hero doll). It got pretty tedious after a while as each run through can take around 10 to 15 minutes so I only did it twice (once good and once evil) and got some sort of dye and the chicken outfit.

  44. Lyndon says:

    WOW just what I waas searching for. Caame hsre by serching ffor business card maker ffee
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