Getting an Xbox error message? Why some controllers no longer work

Published 2023-11-20 11:58

Microsoft’s new policy could affect disabled gamers


Xbox has a new policy that could affect your gaming habits.

It’s blocking unauthorized accessories — those that aren’t made by the company or its official partners.

Xbox users noticed this policy change in October, when some people started getting an error message that warned them their accessory would stop working by Nov. 12. 

Accessories include controllers, adapters and fighting boards. 

In the error message, Xbox, which is owned by Microsoft, said that unauthorized accessories “compromise your gaming experience.”

But some disabled Xbox users are concerned because they use unauthorized accessories to make the Xbox more accessible for their needs.

How the ban works

Xbox users who are affected by the ban will receive the error code in two parts. 

According to the Xbox support site, if you get the initial error code, that means you will have two more weeks to use the accessory. 

After two weeks, users will get a second error message and the accessory will be blocked. 

Xbox said users who have their accessory blocked should contact the store where they bought it or the manufacturer to return it.

Wingman Converter XB flier showing a converter that looks like a USB stick and a flyer for a generic controller without any Xbox-branded buttons or badges.

Two examples of unauthorized accessories that may be blocked by Xbox. (Image credit: Brook Gaming/Amazon)

CBC Kids News reached out to Xbox for more information and got a response from a public relations representative whose company represents Microsoft. 

According to their statement, the decision to block unauthorized accessories is “to maintain the performance, security and safety of Xbox consoles.”

If you don’t receive an error message when using an accessory, then you don’t need to worry and your accessory won’t be impacted, they added.

Reaction from disabled gaming community

“For the most part, this won’t affect most people,” said Brad Shankar, gaming editor at MobileSyrup, a technology news website. 

He said that’s because most Xbox users use authorized controllers. 

But it will affect some specific communities, he said.

This includes disabled gamers, said Grant Stoner, a journalist who covers accessibility in gaming and is himself physically disabled. 

Stoner has been covering this story for IGN, a gaming and entertainment news site.

While every disabled person is different, some have physical limitations that can make using a standard controller difficult or impossible.

Those limitations could include not being able to extend the hand to reach a control or not having the strength to press down and hold a button.

Two hand-held controllers with plastic extenders that allow buttons to be pushed from one side.

Two examples of 3D-printed modifications that make it possible to use a controller with one hand. On the left, for Xbox and on the right, for Playstation. (Image credit: Caleb Kraft/The Controller Project)

Xbox does have an official adaptive controller meant for disabled gamers. It lets players attach a variety of accessories that can adapt their setup to work for their individual needs.

Accessories attached to their adaptive controller, even if they are not authorized, will not be affected by this ban, according to Xbox.

 A white rectangular-shaped box with buttons and two round black pads, a black thumb contoller, a red button and a large green button.

Xbox’s official adaptive controller and some of the accessories that can be attached. (Image credit: Xbox)  

However, not every disabled gamer uses this controller, said Stoner.

“The adaptive controller, while beneficial, still isn't enough,” he said.

That’s because every disabled person has different needs, and not all of them are covered by Xbox’s authorized accessories.

“What's going to work for one person won't necessarily work for another,” said Steve Saylor, a Canadian Twitch streamer and gaming accessibility consultant who is blind.

Many disabled gamers spend hours working on and adjusting their setup so it can work for them, said Stoner.

Even if a gamer can switch to Xbox’s adaptive controller, Stoner said having to make those changes is a hardship.

It can be “incredibly difficult for a lot of disabled people to just seamlessly transition” to a new setup, he said.

Cost is also an issue. The Xbox adaptive controller is $129.99, and that’s not including all the accessories. 

A regular authorized wireless controller costs $59.99 right now.

Saylor said this is what some people call a “disability tax.”

“We have to pay extra in order for us to be able to get equal access to a thing,” he said.  

One of Xbox’s mottos has been “when everybody plays, we all win,” but Stoner said this policy goes against that.

How to tell if your accessory is official

Controllers made and sold by Xbox as well as those that are part of the “designed for Xbox” program are authorized and will not be blocked. 

Authorized controllers will have:

Left, close up of hands holding an official purple Xbox controller. Right, a circle label that says, “Designed for Xbox.”

An Xbox controller and the designed for Xbox logo. (Image credit: Xbox)

Many popular brands are included as authorized Xbox partners, including Logitech, HyperX, Razer, Turtle Beach, PowerA and Thrustmaster.

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