Xbox Games Showcase Technical Issues Prevented Open Captions

The Xbox Games Showcase took place on July 23 with Xbox announcing multiple streams for the full event. Not only in different languages, but also separate streaming mirrors for open captions, ASL, and also an audio described stream. However, when the stream went live there were no open captions, and instead, viewers were seeing auto-generated subtitles, otherwise known as craptions. Those looking forward to the event purely because of the announcement of open captions were understandably disappointed. However, employees at Xbox have been looking into what happened.

While the very presence of auto-generated captions made me reflect on all other live-events from other studios and companies who willingly choose to enable auto-generated captions. For Xbox, auto-generated captions were not part of the plan at all. “This was a technical difficulty and not the intent of the stream” Tara Voelker, Xbox’s PM and gaming and disability community lead told Can I Play That?

She explains that viewers were meant to have seen proper captions displayed how they were previously shown in past events that were streamed to Mixer. Mixer was Microsoft’s live-streaming platform, however, it has very recently and suddenly shut down. Past streams for big events on that platform would see prepared captions shown along with the live stream.

“I’m looking into this. Our community deserves better” said Brannon Zahand, Xbox’s senior gaming accessibility program manager. After investigating, he tells me that the team behind the streams “had good captions prepped and previously tested” prior to the event going live. As previously confirmed, the team, unfortunately, “hit a last minute technical issue”. However, further details behind what exactly went wrong haven’t been shared.

The team did try to troubleshoot the issue during the stream, but this meant turning on the closed captions option on the media player used by the team which automatically defaulted to the auto-generated subtitles due to no closed caption data being found.

While technical issues are normal and always frustrating, especially when they occur at unfortunate times, Brannon says that the team is going to work to try and prevent this situation from happening again.

While viewers may have had to endure craptions for the stream, Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb informed us that the official captions are now available as they were intended to appear live on a video-on-demand version of the stream. If you’re a sucker for quality, this is available in 4K and 60fps. Not the captions…the captions are just text.

However, the captions are fantastic. They not only feature dialogue, but they feature music, lyrics, sound effects, and that beefy “World premiere” in text form. Seeing the official captions post-stream is kind of upsetting because you can see the effort that went into the whole 57 minutes. It’s a shame the teams who worked so hard on them had to witness the community reacting to the craptions when their hard work was refusing to play ball.

Of course, with so many people in the community being used to auto-generated captions being used as an easy and lazy workaround, the reaction wasn’t at all surprising. And hey, we got to meme Halo Infinite with a “dick” subtitle.

Hopefully, Xbox’s future streams will be less problematic, but for now the captions are available in full on YouTube in the video above.

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Ben Bayliss

Deaf Editor at Can I Play That? - British and enjoys games with good subtitles and will complain about bad subtitles.

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