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Here’s how to play your Windows 10 games offline, and Microsoft’s restrictions

A person in Minecraft trying to get his tablet to play Minecraft offline in Windows 10

Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb, Xbox Live’s director of programming, announced on Friday that Microsoft has “made some backend updates to improve your experience playing Windows 10 games offline.” Sounds great, right? Now read on for the fine print.

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Here’s Hryb, via Twitter:

His Tweet links to a new page at Xbox Support, which spells out all the conditions attached to offline play.

“Most games available in the Store on your Windows 10 device support offline play,” we’re told, but we’re advised to check by “searching for your game at http://www.xbox.com.”

“Most games with a campaign mode will be playable offline, but games with network co-op or multiplayer features will not work while you’re offline. While playing offline, some features, such as the ability to purchase additional items from the Windows store, will not be available. Additionally, any leaderboards will be unavailable while you’re offline.”

There are further restrictions. You have to “designate” a device for offline play, you’re limited to just one offline device at a time, and you can only change your offline device three times a year.

Then, for each game you want to play offline, you have to “prepare” them by launching them while you’re online and logged into Xbox Live. Thereafter, you can exit and start them again while offline. Here’s the step-by-step, if you want to put yourself through this.

Essentially, this sounds to me like Xbox Live is getting Steam’s offline mode, except Steam enables offline access on unlimited devices, and often with no “preparation” needed if your game is installed and supports offline play. Some games don’t even need to go through Steam to be played offline, and no, I’m not talking games from before Steam’s era. Although, that’s an interesting thought.