A Warning About Gamertags and Windows Live IDs
With a middle finger raised in Microsoft's direction.
I set up an Xbox Live Silver account for one of my sons in April 2007, using a Windows Live ID linked to one of my email addresses. This Christmas, he asked for and got an Xbox Live 12-month card so he could play online.
However, when I try to enter the code, it says it can't connect to Xbox Live. (Which is BS, because I can do it with the other profiles in the system.) After a half hour on the phone with MS's highly scripted but ultimately useless 1-800-4MYXBOX folks, they told me that the Windows Live ID "hadn't been used in so long that it expired." As a result, my son's Xbox Live Gamertag, which logs into Xbox Live just fine to record his achievements, is permanently unable to be turned into a Gold account.
So, MS's customer service tells me they can't/won't reactivate the WLID. And that they can't/won't change the gamertag to another WLID. In fact, when I asked the 1-800-4MYXBOX binder-jockey whether my son's Gamertag could be moved to a new Windows Live ID, the response was that I could go to Xbox.com and "try." Since I know for a fact that it is not possible for a Gamertag to be associated with another WLID through that website, I was basically being told to get lost.
Thanks for wasting a half-hour of my time, gents. And thanks for leaving me in the position of telling my son that a year and a half of achievements and save games are now useless if he wants to actually use his Christmas gift.
Which leads me to my warning: if you claimed a gamertag you thought you might want someday, or just got a Silver "for now," but haven't been using the Windows Live ID you created to get the tag, there is a good chance it expired and your tag is now permanently orphaned, stuck in the purgatory created by Xbox Live's absolute dependence on a WLID that might not be around the next time you want to use it.
And if anyone from Joystiq or Kotaku is reading, would you mind asking MS how many of these millions of Xbox Live accounts that they brag about having are actually useless accounts linked to a dead WLID? If MS is making representations about online market share or potential revenues based on a total number of gamertag accounts that includes a significant number of impossible-to-activate accounts, it should probably correct them.
Once you get an account, it's not easy to cancel.
Their whole Live account system is a mess.
Not to sound dense, but how do I "use" a WLID to ensure that it doesn't get garbage collected by the Microsoft drones? And, yeah, their system is in severe need of a revamp. I unfortunately have all my stuff linked to a Yahoo Mail account and I live in terror of that account going poof. =/
Log in to it directly at the home site, probably.
Originally Posted by BigWeather
Though I hadn't used my Xbox Live account for anything else and logged in to the home site to change its password just a few days ago, and it still worked fine after being 'idle' like that for over two years, so I don't know what the cutoff point would be.
(Edit: Though I did use it through xbox.com, so maybe web usage like that counts as a keepalive.)
Clearly all Microsoft's objectives have been met. Time to lay off 15,000 folks!
Log into it from any passport enabled site - Live Messenger, www.passport.com, etc. Easiest thing to do is to set your 360 to autmatically log into Live Messenger when it signs into Live, thus everytime you use your 360 it automatically resets the inactivity timer.
Originally Posted by Fugitive
Thanks guys. I think I'm covered between using the ID for my Zune, XNA CC membership, and the XBox forums, but never hurts to be sure.
Major Nelson has acknowledged the problem, and it turns out to be even a little bit worse in that if you delete your profile while the Live ID is inactive, you permanently lose your gamertag.
They say they're working on a way to change the Live ID your gamertag is associated with, at least.
Thank God. My friend has this problem with his gamertag, so he's thinking of no longer playing with us on our regular nights. His problem is a little worse, since he's forgotten the password to the original hotmail account that his gamertag is tied to. So he can't access his hotmail account, and customer support won't even help him by telling him when he created the account. He says if he had any idea what year the account was created, he might have some idea about what passwords he might have used back in those days, and what address he used to live at.
Instead, the customer support people with Indian accents won't give him any clues whatsoever, and he's tried calling them several times, getting someone different every time. When he tells them his address, they keep telling him "no, that's not your address".
The worst part is that they still automatically charge him to renew his live membership, and he can still buy content with this gamertag. But if his 360 ever fails, and he has to recover his gamertag on another machine, he's screwed, since he can never figure out his password.
AND, get this: he can't cancel his Xbox Live membership. Why not? Because it requires him to have his password for his original hotmail account. Heheh. So it's broken just enough that they're perfectly willing to keep taking his money, but doesn't work well enough to allow him to cancel membership. He's thinking the only way out for him is to deny payment through his credit card the next time his yearly Xbox Live Gold fee is charged.
But then, he doesn't want to lose all his Rock Band 2 songs, and all the games associated with his gamertag. This is just ridiculous.
Which is exactly what every little 12 year old pretexting kid tells the Indian call center employee when they try to hijack your Gamertag, because you have Recon armor in Halo 3, or you work for a developer, or you have 100,000 GS, or whatever.
Originally Posted by Rock8man
I have a hard time being sympathetic towards individuals who forgot the passwords associated with the email account they initially entered as a point of contact for an online service that is most likely tied to a credit card.
However, the WLID limbo state that is created after 3 months of inactivity is beyond asinine. This is not the first or the last horror story we'll hear about that, and I really hope they have something in the works to migrate the WLID/GT relationship in the future.
Well, that's the thing though, he's perfectly willing to give them the credit card account any associated information with that, since he has that information handy. But Microsoft designed the system so that this part of the account is completely separated from the original hotmail/passport account it's tied to.
Originally Posted by ProStyle
So in other words, even though he can prove he is who he says he is by giving them credit card info, his current address associated with his credit card, etc., his hotmail account isn't tied to any of that, and he can't go change that because he doesn't remember his password. And he doesn't remember when he made that hotmail account. Was it in the mid 90s? Was it late 90s? He had a few hotmail accounts back then, he lived in quite a few places depending on which year it was.
And at worst, he should be able to prove that his credit card is associated with an account, and he doesn't want that credit card charged anymore and he wants his membership canceled. But he can't even do that.
Anyway, his problem will be solved when they solve the Zombie Gamertag problem.
Eh, he might still be screwed if they wind up solving it by having you log in to the old account (ignoring its dormant status and just doing the authentication step) in order to change the associated Live ID...
I think I have this problem. I just got Dawn of War 2, which is my first GfW Live game. I have only accessed my Gamertag from my Xbox, so I never logged into the Xbox Live website before. I believe my Gamertag predates the Windows Live ID integration.
I know the email address I used to create the account (Microsoft still sends me emails about Xbox Live changes at that address), but GfW Live tells me that the ID or password is wrong. The "Forgot Password" option tells me that the email is invalid. However, I can log into Xbox Live on my Xbox. Attempting to access or change my "Windows Live ID" from the Xbox tells me that it can not connect to Xbox Live (even though I am signed in to get that far).
I just want to use the same Gamertag on the Xbox and Windows, which should not be this hard.
Why the hell does logging into xbox live via the 360 not count?
Originally Posted by Guido Jones
(not directly asking you, I know this isnt your fault, just ranting at the sky)
This new Live thing looks like Microsoft's attempt to compete with Facebook. haha good luck with that.
Not sure if I missed a new thread about it anywhere, but I was one of the people suffering from that long standing "xbox live is not connected" issue whenever trying to do anything related to Windows live IDs. I had had a really old Windows Live ID forced upon me from signing up for the original Xbox gamertag and it had lapsed.
Upon logging into Xbox live today it forced me to switch to a new Windows Live ID and it worked beautifully. Guess it's finally time for me to get those figurines of my Rock Band mates.