Most everyone remembers the infamous “red ring of death,” an Xbox 360 hardware malfunction in which the console power ring would turn red and the console would just...stop working. The problem was eventually fixed after Microsoft dropped a cool $1 billion on it. But now there’s another flaw plaguing the Xbox consoles of today: the so-called “black screen of death.”
Yes, we’re apparently going with “of death” again, though I wish we could at least be a bit more creative this time. “Console purgatory,” maybe?
“Black screen of death” is at least a fitting term, though, seeing as it describes the problem to the letter. Players who’ve run into it turn their Xbox One consoles on, only to see a completely blank screen. The timeless trick of “turning it off and turning it back on again” doesn’t seem to do anything. Neither does the “unplugging it and plugging it back in” one.
The black screen of death appears to have largely affected those who’ve registered as an Xbox Insider, an opt-in program that allows players to test-drive upcoming console functions before they’re rolled out on a wide scale. Sometimes, there are bugs, but getting first crack at this stuff is often a boon. For instance, Xbox Insiders received early access to the ballyhooed game suspension functionality, which significantly speeds up downloads on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. New updates roll out on a periodic basis, sometimes every few days, and it seems this wave of black screens is a bug related to one of those recent patches.
Read More: How To Sign Up For The Xbox Insider Program
In an August 20 blog post describing the release notes for beta-level members (Xbox Insider is tiered), Microsoft said that black screen of death issue has been addressed. Microsoft said the same thing in an August 17 blog post, too. (That note isn’t present in Microsoft’s August 13 post about Xbox Insider beta-level updates, suggesting that’s the patch that sparked it.)
Across social media, players claim to continue to run into it en masse. Players say that factory-resetting the console, while a total pain to get everything set back up again, does the trick. Of course, that might seem like something you, y’know, need a screen for, but it’s possible to complete the process with a thumb drive.
The Xbox One’s black screen of death isn’t wholly new. Last year and the year before, several Xbox One S owners wrote on the Microsoft support forums to describe an issue with the console. The dashboard would say a game was corrupted, so the user would power down the Xbox, then turn it back on again. Boom. Black screen of death. In that instance, Microsoft recommended power cycling the console.
When reached for comment regarding the black screen of death’s second coming, a Microsoft rep didn’t immediately have anything to add.