Fix: Xbox One won’t Play Downloaded Games

Some Xbox One users are reporting that they are unable to play any games they downloaded on their console – either game that they purchased digitally or free games received via the Xbox Gold subscription. Upon launching the game, they report that the screen goes black and remains like that indefinitely. This issue is reported to occur with Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X.

Xbox One Downloaded Games won’t play

What is causing downloaded games to fail to play on Xbox One?

We investigated this particular issue by looking at various user reports and the repair strategies that are commonly used in these types of scenario by affected users. Based on our investigations, there are several potential scenarios that will trigger this behavior:

  • Operating system glitch – One reason that might be triggering this particular issue is a glitch with the OS of Xbox One. This seems to be a recurring issue on all Xbox one models (Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox one X). In this case, you will be able to resolve the issue by performing a power cycle on your console.
  • Locally saved game cache is corrupted – In certain scenarios, the local game save data cache might become corrupted and prevent one or more games from starting properly. If this scenario is applicable, you can resolve the issue by backing up your game saves and clearing the local saved games cache.
  • Corrupted OS data – Corrupted data can also be responsible for this particular issue.  Several affected users have reported that the issue was resolved after they performed a soft factory reset. This procedure will only affect OS data (not your games or applications)
  • One or more Xbox Game services are down – If you’re encountering the issue with a digital game acquired through game sharing, the reason why you can’t get past the black screen might be because one or multiple Xbox Live services are down. In this case, you can resolve the issue with some games by going into Offline mode.

Method 1: Performing a power cycle

As some users have reported, there’s a chance that you’ll be able to resolve the issue by performing a power cycle on your console. Performing a power cycle on your console will drain the power capacitors, which ends up resolving most firmware-related issues that might be preventing your console from launching downloaded games.

Here’s a quick guide on performing a power cycle:

  1. Press and hold the Xbox button (on the front of the console) for approximately 10 seconds. Ideally, you’ll want to keep the button pressed until the LED stops flashing.
  2. Wait a minute or so before turning your console back on again by pressing the Xbox button once again.
  3. Look for the green boot-up animation during the startup process. If you don’t see the Xbox green boot-up animation, it means that the power-cycling procedure was not successful and you’ll need to repeat the steps above.
    Xbox One starting the animation
  4. Once your Xbox One console boots back up, launch the downloaded game that was previously failing to fail and see if the issue is now resolved.

If you’re still encountering the same problem, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 2: Clearing local saved games cache

Several users encountering this issue have reported that they managed to resolve the issue by clearing the locally saved games cache. This will while out all saved games on this console, but it won’t remove any game files or the saved games in the cloud. Even more, all your saved games will be synced the next time you play that particular game.

Note: In order to ensure that this procedure won’t make you lose any game saves, you should start by ensuring that all your saves are backed up on the cloud. To do this, go to Settings > System > Storage and choose Games. Then, select the games that you need to back up on the cloud and select Move > Cloud Saved Games.

Once your game saves are safely backed onto your cloud storage, here’s what you need to do in order to clear the locally saved games cache:

  1. From your Xbox One dashboard, go to Settings > System.
    Go to Settings > System
  2. From the System screen, go under the Storage tab and select Clear local saved games.
    Clearing the local saved games cache
  3. At the end of this process, your console will restart automatically.
  4. Once the next startup is complete, launch the game that was previously failing and wait for the save syncing to complete.
    Saved data is being re-synced
  5. Once saved data has been re-synced, see if the game is launching normally.

If you’re still experiencing the same issue, move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Doing a soft Factory reset

Some affected users reported that they were able to resolve the issue by performing a soft factory reset. This procedure is primarily used for troubleshooting purposes and will reset the OS by deleting potentially corrupted data. The good news is it won’t touch any of your apps or games data – so don’t worry about having to re-download and install large games all over again.

Here’s a quick guide on doing a soft factory reset:

  1. Open your Xbox One console and press the Xbox button to open up the guide menu.
  2. Next, go to System > Settings > System > Console Info. Once you get there, choose Reset console.
    Performing a soft factory reset
  3. From the next screen, choose Reset and keep my games & apps.
    Soft Resetting Xbox One
  4. Once the process is complete, your console will restart automatically. When the startup procedure is finished, launch the game that was previously failing to play and see if the issue has been resolved.

Method 4: Verifying Xbox Game services status

If you’ve come this far without a result, chances are the reason why you’re unable to launch your game is because one or multiple Xbox Live service is not operational or is undergoing maintenance.

If the digital game you are trying to launch was acquired through game sharing, you won’t be able to play until the Xbox servers are operational again.

You can check the status of Xbox Live services by visiting this link (here). If any services are currently down, you can wait until the issue is sorted out or follow the steps below to play the game in offline mode (not all games will allow this).

Status of Xbox Live servers

Here’s a quick guide on playing the game in offline mode on Xbox One:

  1. Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide menu.
  2. From the Settings menu, go to System > Settings > Network.
  3. Inside the Network menu, go to Network settings and select Go offline.
    Going Offline on Xbox One
  4. Launch the game that was previously failing to play and see if you can get past the black screen.

Note: If the procedure is successful, remember to return to the Network settings menu after a while and hit Go online. Failing to do this will stop you from using all social features and stop any save game syncing on your console.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.