Xbox Blues

The kids got an Xbox One for Christmas and I spent 3 hours yesterday trying to get the thing setup. The hardware itself was as simple as setting up the Atari 2600 I’d gotten as a kid: one plug goes into the power outlet, another goes into the television. It was the software side of things that ruined what was otherwise a pleasant morning.

Here are the things you have to do to get an Xbox working for your kids:

  1. Install the hardware.
  2. Turn on the system, wait for it to boot up.
  3. Connect it to the WiFi in the house. With that done, I felt confident that I could put in one of the game discs we had and the kids could start to play. But wait! There’s more!
  4. Download an update to the Xbox. The update was 6 GB. We were at my in-laws and the WiFi was slow and spotty—probably because every other parent in the community was busy setting up a new Xbox for their kids, and everyone was downloading the same 6 GB update at the same time.
  5. Restart the Xbox so that it can install the update.
  6. Wait for it to connect to the spotty WiFi. Now, at least, we could get started, right? Wrong.
  7. Download an update for the controller. The on-screen instruction tell you not to move the controller while this is happening. Of course, it seem to take forever.
  8. Configure the Xbox. Location, time zones, etc.
  9. Sign into a Microsoft account. Why you need an account to play video games is beyond my meager comprehension. But nothing I could do would get around this little gem of a feature.
  10. Create an account for the Little Man. Enter his name, birthdate, and other vitals. Whew! Ah, but now, because the Little Man is only 7, a parent must approve his account, and in order to do that, a parent must sign in with their Microsoft account.
  11. Sign into my Microsoft Account.
  12. Read the fine print, check some boxes. Uncheck some other boxes. Basically, say it is okay for my kid to sign into his account. Except now the system tells me that his Country setting is different from my Country setting. These have to be the same.
  13. Sign out of my account and back into his account.
  14. Check his country setting: United States.
  15. Sign out of his account and back into my account.
  16. Check my country setting: United States.
  17. [Redacted]
  18. Pull myself together. Decide that for now, we’ll just use my account. Sign into my account. Somehow, though, the Xbox still thinks I am signing in to approve the Little Man’s account, not to play games.
  19. Pull the plug from the wall.
  20. Put the plug back in the wall.
  21. Wait for the Xbox to reboot.
  22. Sign in with my account. Finally, we are there. I have a home screen, and we can play games.
  23. Load the “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.”
  24. An update is required (of course!).
  25. Wait for a long time while the update is loaded over the slow WiFi.
  26. Finally, finally, start Plants vs. Zombies.
  27. Prompted to sign into an Xbox Gold account.
  28. Spent 20 minutes figuring out what an Xbox Gold account is, and why we need it. See clearly at the bottom of the game box for Plants vs. Zombies that an Xbox gold account is required.
  29. Worn out, I sign up for a year of Xbox Gold which is half the price of month-to-month.
  30. Start Plants vs. Zombies.
  31. Now, it seems, we need to sign into an Electronic Arts account. We don’t have one, so we have to create one.
  32. Create the EA account.
  33. Start Plants vs. Zombies (again). It finally works!

The Little Man did a remarkably good job of waiting patiently for the 2+ hours it took me to get through all of these (mostly unnecessary) steps. He eagerly took the controller and began playing Plants vs. Zombies.

Ten minutes later, he was bored and said he wanted to go swimming.


  1. I think that just put me off getting an XBox. My son has been asking for one for months and I’ve been putting it off because we only recently joined the 21st century with an HD TV. I was thinking about just going with an Apple TV and using games from the iTunes Store. Now that seems like a much smaller headache.

  2. Haha!! Until I read this, I thought these woes are unique to the playstation.. every time we turn it on to play a game.. some sort of update is required! Every. Single. Time.

    Thanks for sharing. Made me laugh. Hope you and your family had a good Christmas.


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