Xbox 360 hard drive game installation testing

We spent more time investigating the hard disk game installation feature included with the New Xbox Experience. We pulled The Orange Box, Command & Conquer 3, NBA Live 09, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed out of the GameSpot game library to measure installation times and to see how game load...

We spent more time investigating the hard disk game installation feature included with the New Xbox Experience. We pulled The Orange Box, Command & Conquer 3, NBA Live 09, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed out of the GameSpot game library to measure installation times and to see how game load times improved with hard drive installations.

We found that installation time varies depending on the size of the game which isn't surprising because the installation process copies the data from the DVD to the hard drive--bigger games are going to take longer to rip. Installing the 4.7GB Orange Box disc took 6 minutes and 57 seconds while it only took 5 minutes and 35 seconds to get Command & Conquer 3's 3.6GB onto the hard drive. The Force Unleashed, weighing in at 6.6GB, extended out the installation time to 9 minutes and 47 seconds and it took 9 minutes and 7 seconds to install NBA Live 09's 6.3GB of data.

The load time benefits are fairly respectable, but you're not going to see anything close to instant game loads. Getting Orange Box from the dashboard to the game's start menu took 30 seconds when playing from disc, but only 25 seconds when launched from the hard drive. Command & Conquer 3's game launch time improved the most, dropping from 33 seconds to 17 seconds. NBA Live 09 only improved by 8 seconds, going from 45 seconds to 37 seconds. The Force Unleashed yielded a larger percentage drop, going from 33 seconds to 25 seconds.

We tried a few game-specific activities to see how the hard drive installation can help after we get through the initial game launch. The hard drive didn't seem to help much when we started playing Half-Life Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2. It took the same amount of time, 35 seconds, to load Episode 2, Chapter 1 from disc as from the hard drive, and getting into Team Fortress 2 only improved from 45 seconds to 42 seconds. Command & Conquer 3 wasn't much better. The hard drive only cut a second off the time it took to launch a new skirmish. Loading a saved skirmish was also only a second faster. The drive helped The Force Unleashed cut the time it took to load a saved game down from 25 seconds to 22 seconds, and NBA Live 09 needed the same amount of time to launch a quick play game from disk and from drive, about 27 seconds.

We can't make any definitive statements with such a small game sample size, but it looks like Microsoft's Albert Penello, director of marketing for Xbox, wasn't kidding when he told us that the main hard drive installation benefit will be reduced noise from not having the optical drive spin up. The hard drive did seem to make launching games faster, but in-game actions such as loading saved games our starting quick play sessions didn't improve much if at all. For all those kids wondering if they can play games from the hard drive without the game disc, sorry to destroy your pending Blockbuster schemes, but the console still requires the game disc to be in the system before launching the game from the hard drive.

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630 comments
silenthill23
silenthill23

If you didn't have to put the disc in people could just sell all there games on ebay and still play them.

Retro_Matt
Retro_Matt

@96761 - You can as long as your xbox still recognizes the scratched disc, so at the My Xbox tab the game is shown, if it says open tray it won't work...

hero_slayer27
hero_slayer27

@ Brap2k10 yes you could still use the same game disc. I normally install games to the hd to prevent all the noise while playing. oh and NBA Live 10 froze on me for the first time ever after installing it to the HD, it seems some games have problems being played from image.

Brap2k10
Brap2k10

If i installed a game onto a hard drive, could I still use the same game disc on another xbox 360?

Conker_128
Conker_128

install your games, always. no laser use. no noise.

Conker_128
Conker_128

gohan661 you're not supposed to put landmines in your 360 or small thin Xbox 360 cases.

96761
96761

@Retro_Matt - Can you really do this? my cod waw disc is scratched and not playable and if you rent it then install it will the scratched disc work?

evan321456
evan321456

i have a 60gb HDD and i only install games to the HDD if I'm going to play them constantly, because they makes so much noise and it doesn't scratch the discs

gohan661
gohan661

I will be using this because i always get my favorite game scratched even when i treat the disk like a landmine

Number_One_360
Number_One_360

If you have a 120 harddrive, it doesn't matter. Every second within the gaming world counts, if even a second, I always say.

deathtrooper31
deathtrooper31

The last few sentences totally defeat the purpose of installing to the HDD in the 1st place! What If someone wanted to protect their investment by not constantly getting the game out and popping it in just for loading purposes!? After reading the above I just see the whole install to the HDD thing as a big waste of time! Save the space 4 other things!

L3-BOJ
L3-BOJ

Children of men, yes you need the same disc. Microsoft did this to prevent people from breaching game copyright laws.

Children_of_Men
Children_of_Men

retro_matt has a great point. but after having a copy of a game installed, do you have to use that same copy to play?

eo_the_shaman
eo_the_shaman

well this is kinda dumb they should make the disk explode after you download it once to the hard drive duh

boredshorts24
boredshorts24

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

619_fan
619_fan

littleornone, your question is pretty self explanatory... if Microsoft did that, no one would buy the game, they would just rent it, or borrow it from a friend long enough to install it... game sales would be demolished...

Retro_Matt
Retro_Matt

If you have a scratched disc, then rent a copy of the game and install it. After that you can use the scratched disc to boot into the hard drive's copy.

littleornone
littleornone

ive put call of duty 4 disc in my ebox 360 and installed it to the hard drive but why do i have to put the disc back in to play game ?

pookie88n
pookie88n

O.K. so, if i have oblivion on the 360 can i install it on the HDD? Also, this is for people that only think installing reduces loading times, I have oblivion the game of the year edition. I have shivering isles on my HDD and the game never crashes when i am in the isles. But the game does crash when i am in the mainlands. what i'm trying to say is, if u install a game onto the HDD it shouldn't crash as much if at all. Also does this update cost microsoft points? thx

MattyWoah
MattyWoah

yeah, anybody who claims that its a huge inconvenience to have to get up and put the disc in the drive is.... Well, they're essentially the George W Bush of Gamers.

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

Acid... seeing as you already have to put all that effort into "get[ting] up off [your] a$$ to put the disk in," your point is moot.

Fuzzylogic1981
Fuzzylogic1981

After I've installed a game to the hard drive, do I have to keep manually selecting "play game from hard drive" in order to be sure it's not running from the disc like normal? Or can I allow autoplay to start it up when I pop the disc in?

gocats34
gocats34

I have a scratched game, so if I rent one, and save it, can I use my scratched disc, and play off the hard drive? Does it have to be the SAME disc, even if it's the same game?

gocats34
gocats34

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

pakcikkantin
pakcikkantin

Mine work fine with COD: World at War to load

senjutsu
senjutsu

Last Remnant lags when played from disc and is perfect from HD install, same for mass effect. Halo 3 lags when installed (weird), lost odyssey doesn't load battles when installed (or atleast it's way faster)., etc. It's WAY better, sorry for you arcade user... "lwon942 Posted Dec 14, 2008 7:16 pm ET if i use a scratched disk to run the game on the hard drive. will it break my xbox 360?" Not at all, lol. How could it? If it's too scrached to read it, it'll say "cannot read the disc" or something like that, but if it can succeed the reading, even if it was hard, lol, the game will always play perfectly from the installed image :D. I hope I helped! :D

lwon942
lwon942

if i use a scratched disk to run the game on the hard drive. will it break my xbox 360?

VenomRitual
VenomRitual

i guess those with Arcade systems aren't going to benefit

Jman1234ueyhg
Jman1234ueyhg

I'll probably just be installing Madden 09 and Tales of Vesperia since I'll br playing those the most. Can't install Lost Odyssey though.. 23 gigs :(

imcoolsoya
imcoolsoya

let me get this straight the only way i can play is if i have the game in the xbox thats the only way

colourofthought
colourofthought

Microsoft done a good thing with this "Install game to hard-drive" feature. it makes it more like a PC (PC is the ultimate gaming machine). Once you install the game to the hard-drive the game is much more smoother on load times on graphics, such as the ones you get on Gears of war 1 & 2. it renderes alot faster and plus the console runs so much quiter than cd load. Before i would sometimes get newly released games on the PS3 just because it is quieter than the 360 although 360 is always my choice in console gaming simply because it is in technical terms... Much more powerful than the PS3 (i only got PS3 for MGS4 :)) but now 360 can fight back in terms of noise. Kudos to Microsoft for bringing out the new experience :)

Acidsmooth
Acidsmooth

Save my DVD drive!?! whatever, it should last without my having to save it. It sucks that I have to get up off my a$$ to put the disk in. That's BS. Yeah I paid for all of my games, why can't it just check online like it does with my Arcade games. I had to switch HDDs already so I can't even play my arcade games without my 360 checking online to see if I own them, why not the same with my games on the HDD? Getting up to change disks when the game is already on the drive is the real waste of time. Time yourself changing disks, and compare that to load time saved. I'm sure it takes longer to change the damn disks. I am pissed that illegal activities ruin it for everyone else always. I also hate people that call themselves gamers and only play pirated crap. Same for "movie buffs" that watch screeners.

Spybreak
Spybreak

kiwisoup I was thinking the same thing, a weekly check would work perfectly.

kiwisoup
kiwisoup

it would have been better if they made it so you only had to put the disc in once a week to prove you had it or something...not having to swap discs constantly would be a nice feature

khariss
khariss

on a plus side im sure some one will figure out how to make a no cd crack for some games don't seem that hard in theory

soulcaliber2
soulcaliber2

Well that's a dumb thing to say. For one your post is in the past and this is the present time...not the future.

killazunlimited
killazunlimited

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

DooM2Ruler
DooM2Ruler

My question for now is, is this only for 360 games, or can you also do this with your XBox games? I would love to know that before I get home tonight to play with it! If not, I'll just post an update tomorrow about it.

jinchuuriki2
jinchuuriki2

i know its cool but idont know how to download it

soulcaliber2
soulcaliber2

I know the download isn't mandatory but if you do get the download will you have to install your games. I, like several people, only have the 20 gig HDD.

yoshi_64
yoshi_64

I still don't see the benefit of this. Perhaps newer games will have some "optimized for HDD install" or devs will just be able to make games significantly better/faster or what not through this method. Regardless, with less than 2 Gigs left on my HDD, I won't be bothering with this anytime soon.

Mitchbragg2004
Mitchbragg2004

At least it will stop those annoying disc read errors I keep getting. My hard drive is only 20gb though, I guess I will have to delete the games I hardly play.

Zestytoaster
Zestytoaster

do you guys just completely ignore the text and go straight to the comments? because all these ignorant questions, explicitly answered in the text, are just really getting on my nerves

creepy_mike
creepy_mike

And just think...if I had waited only a few more months to buy my 360 I could have had 40 extra GB's for $50 less than what I payed, or 100 extra GB's for only $50 more, and would actually be able to use this new feature! ...no, no, it's probably best not to think of these things.

Miles13
Miles13

thats dumb that the disc has to be in the system...whats the point of doing it then, i know why theyre doing that..it seems pointless though

Jouhargi
Jouhargi

Taken from NXE FAQ from Xbox.com: Q What if my Xbox 360 isn't online? How do I get the update? If I don't, will my Xbox 360 still work? A This fall you will need to be connected to Xbox LIVE to download the system update, however we will be making the update available to non-Xbox LIVE members very soon. Your Xbox 360 will work in an offline mode, without the update. So to answer my question a few days ago: Yes, the update will be available -most probably- on Xbox.com. Possibly included in game discs, too.

Dan_Kill_Bot
Dan_Kill_Bot

um? does this mean that you could borrow a 360 game from video eazy and rip it onto the hard drive? or is it a xbox live microsoft points downloadable kinda thing

XiceX
XiceX

they should give ouy 60gb hard drives for free cus 20gb is nothing i dunno what i got on my hard drive but its full i know there is like 4 demos i think or maybe 3 now, and also Ichiniisama said he cant hear anything from his xbox unless he got his ear right up against it thats a load of crap every one i know thinks the xbox is loud and they all own one so they know and i think is loud to and i have one aswell so i think you need to get your hearing checked or maybe turn it on and listen to it then

Azmod3aN
Azmod3aN

@DrD3v1L Read my previous posts. Future games will be more compatible and should increase loading times for games. Above that, how about saving your xbox 360's DVD drive, and it's lens from wear and tear? And lowering the temperature of your xbox 360 over all? Maybe making your xbox 360 live longer isn't a benefit enough for you?

DrD3V1L
DrD3V1L

It's not worth wasting the HDD memory on this feature, if loading times haven't improved all that much.