My adventures with Windows LIVE ID and Xbox LIVE gamertags
I recently had an interesting experience while trying to transfer an Xbox LIVE gamertag to a new Windows LIVE ID, and I decided to post what I learned from this process in the hopes that it will help others avoid this type of hassle in the future.
If you don’t want to read the full story of what happened, here are my key takeaways:
- It is possible to create a gamertag with a Windows LIVE ID that has never had its email address validated, but it is not possible to move a gamertag associated with an un-validated LIVE ID to a new LIVE ID. Before trying to move a gamertag to a new LIVE ID, make sure you log onto Live.com with the old and new LIVE IDs and validate the email addresses.
- It is easy to inadvertently create a gamertag for a Windows LIVE ID that doesn’t currently have a gamertag associated with it by logging into Xbox.com or the games hub on Windows Phone. If you have a Windows LIVE ID that doesn’t have a gamertag that you are planning to move an existing gamertag to, make sure that you validate the email address for the LIVE ID on Live.com, but don’t log into Xbox.com because you might accidentally get a new gamertag assigned to it and then have to wait 30 days before you can get rid of that new gamertag.
- After changing the gamertag associated with the primary Windows LIVE ID being used on a Windows Phone, you’ll have to delete and re-download games and applications in order to be able to get gameplay data and achievements to upload to the new gamertag and to download updates for applications.
Here is the full story of what happened:
This story started more than a month ago when my wife got a new Windows Phone. She used her Windows LIVE ID when setting up the phone. However, I originally created her Xbox LIVE gamertag for her, and I associated it with a Windows LIVE ID that I had created a while ago to do so. That meant that she could not use her gamertag on her new phone.
I found a set of steps that can be used to change the Windows LIVE ID associated with a gamertag, and I tried to follow those instructions on my Xbox 360 console. However, I got an error message saying that I entered an invalid user name or password after I entered both LIVE IDs and passwords and clicked yes to confirm the change. I backed up and intentionally entered incorrect passwords for each LIVE ID, and got error messages each time, so I knew I was entering correct passwords.
I decided to try to log onto Xbox.com with my wife’s LIVE ID to see if there was a different gamertag associated with it. When I did so, I found out that there wasn’t a gamertag, but Xbox.com created one for me automatically when I logged in. I knew I would have to get rid of that gamertag before I would be able to move her real gamertag onto her LIVE ID. I created a new LIVE ID, recovered the newly created gamertag on my Xbox 360 console, and tried to change the LIVE ID on that gamertag to the new LIVE ID I just created. Doing that gave me an error message saying that changing the LIVE ID associated with a gamertag can only be done once every 30 days. I understand why this restriction is in place for automated changes, but I assumed there would be a way to override it if I talked to a support team member, so I tried to call Xbox support. Unfortunately, this policy comes from the Windows LIVE ID service, and Xbox support does not have the ability to override the time limit. To make matters worse, the Xbox support team and I couldn’t find a support contact for the Windows LIVE ID service, so I was stuck waiting for 30 days before I could try again to get rid of the newly created gamertag associated with my wife’s Windows LIVE ID.
After the 30 days were up, I tried again to move the temporary gamertag associated with my wife’s LIVE ID to a new LIVE ID so I could move her real one over. When I tried to update the LIVE ID on my Xbox 360 console using the same steps as before, I got the same error about an invalid user name or password. I logged onto Xbox.com with the new LIVE ID and got an error message saying that the email address associated with the LIVE ID had not been validated. I made up an email address when I created that new LIVE ID, so I had to go back and create yet another new LIVE ID, this time with a valid email address. Once I did that, I logged into Live.com with the LIVE ID, clicked the button to have it send me an email, then clicked the link in the email it sent me in order to validate the address. After the email address for the LIVE ID was validated, I was able to move the temporary gamertag from my wife’s LIVE ID to this new LIVE ID.
Now that my wife’s LIVE ID once again had no gamertag associated with it, I tried again to move her real gamertag over to her LIVE ID. Once again, it failed with the same error message, but my experience trying to move the temporary gamertag gave me an idea about what might be wrong. This time, I tried to log onto Live.com with my LIVE ID that was associated with her gamertag, and it gave me an error saying that the email address associated with the LIVE ID had not been validated. Once I went through the steps to validate that LIVE ID, I was finally able to move her gamertag over to her LIVE ID.
Once the process of moving her gamertag to her LIVE ID was complete, I wasn’t done. I verified that the correct gamertag and avatar information appeared for my wife’s LIVE ID on my Xbox 360 console and on Xbox.com, but the old information still showed in the games hub on her phone. I tried to use the refresh button in the games hub, and I tried to hard reboot her phone, but neither of them updated her gamertag or avatar information. Finally, after waiting for a couple of hours, the correct information appeared in games hub.
I still wasn’t quite done though. As an experiment, I tried playing one of the games that my wife had been playing during the 30 days we had to wait in order to be able to change LIVE IDs, and in the process, I earned a couple of new achievements for her. The game didn’t show up in her games played list, and the achievements didn’t show up in her gamerscore either. After asking around, I found out that I would have to delete and re-download the games in order to reset the progress that was saved on her phone and get the games to report gameplay and achievement data for her gamertag. I did that, and her gameplay and achievement data started updating correctly for games she played on her phone. There are still a couple of non-Xbox LIVE applications that she installed during that 30 day time window that she cannot download updates for because of this LIVE ID change, and I suspect that she will need to delete and re-download those as well in order to be fully up and running again on her phone.