The Xbox One is an amazing piece of hardware, but it’s not without its faults. One of the most glaring issues that gamers have come across while using Microsoft’s all-in-one entertainment machine, is its inability to download and install games in a timely manner. This includes both retail and digital purchases, with the latter taking even longer since the whole game has to be downloaded in addition to being installed.
Retail games can take upwards of 10-minutes to play while they install and download any required updates, but digital games can take as long as 30-minutes or more. This downtime leaves eager gamers foaming at the mouth to play the $60 video game that they purchased with their hard earned money, which is teasing them with install times on their screens that seem to take far too long. It’s reminiscent of saving your allowance as a kid for months at a time to buy the next big NES or SNES game, only to have your TV privileges taken away for breaking some house rule, which in turn prevents you from getting to play the game that you’ve waited and dreamed about playing for so long.
Let’s face it, waiting for anything in the year 2014 seems archaic, and it’s not like gamers are known to be the most patient lot. I count myself among them, and find the Xbox One game install dilemma to be a sizable issue when compared to how quickly the PS4 can do the same operations. Bandwidth issues aside, the process of downloading a game to use for the Xbox One from the Marketplace is one full of waiting, which eventually turns into loathing. Shouldn’t we be able to download and play a game faster than the time it would take to go out to a physical store to buy one? One would think, but that’s not always the case with digital games on the Xbox One.
All is not lost for Xbox One gamers though, thanks to a very clever tactic PopCap infused into Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Rather than making you wait for the entire game to download and install before you play it, PvZ: GW allows you to enter into a stripped down experience that also serves as a tutorial of sorts for the game’s mechanics. After about 25-30% of the game has been downloaded to your Xbox One, it will prompt you to start playing it. Upon accepting the offer the game loads you into a sandbox of sorts that allows you to test out the game’s controls while you actually play against a horde of zombie bots trying to eat your brains.
You still can’t play the full game, but being able to at least experience it in some form or fashion while you wait for the game to finish installing is a thousand times better than having to wait for the entire process to complete. It also allows you as the gamer to get familiar with how the game plays without having to go through a canned tutorial section at the start of the main game. For example, by the time my digital copy of PvZ: GW finished fully installing I already knew how the controls functioned, as well as which class of plant fit my preferred play style. I even began to learn the layout of the map PopCap used for this “Xbox One Installing Vortex” downtime, which also came in handy for the full game experience.
Without this feature I would’ve had to wait just over 30-minutes to even boot the game into its main menu, and then after that I would’ve had to undoubtedly slog my way through a canned tutorial to learn the finer points on zombie killing tactics. In reality, PvZ: GW’s ability to allow a part of its file system to be played before the whole file was installed probably saved me around 45-minutes of gaming downtime. Surely I could’ve done something productive with my life during those 45-minutes, but sometimes when it’s time to game, it’s just time to game, so I absolutely embrace PopCap’s creative solution to the Xbox One’s slow download and install times.
Moving forward it’d be great if more developers took the same approach, and some may already have, I just haven’t found those games yet. Regardless, PvZ: GW finally offered a viable alternative to staring at the Xbox One download screen that not only helped to pass the long wait, but also managed to incorporate a tutorial to allow you to get right to the action once the game fully installed. I’d say that’s a win-win type of situation!
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”