Image: Xbox

On February 5th, 2010, Microsoft announced that it was putting an end to Xbox Live support for the original Xbox in April later that year. This was disappointing news for many players at the time, meaning they could no longer access Xbox Live 1.0 specific features like matchmaking, leaderboards, and friends lists, or play any of the original Xbox games online.

Fans have come out with some impressive workarounds over the last decade, such as the application XLink Kai, but these all lack the bells and whistles of the original service. Another group of players, however, has recently been testing a new drop-in replacement called Insignia, which is much closer to the real thing. And it seems to be pretty impressive, as noted by the YouTuber Modern Vintage Gamer, who was able to try out the service for himself.

In a recent video, Modern Vintage Gamer explained his experiences in a closed alpha test for the service. This test required him to use a modded Xbox that extracted three pieces of information from his machine: the machine key, the HDD key, and the online key. This is something that he explains is not possible on basic retail machines, but that Insignia is currently working on a fix for, with the intention to provide a save game exploit that will automatically register your retail system for the replacement.

According to Modern Vintage Gamer, once he got everything up and running, he got some really "great results" for a majority of games, with some "sketchy" matchmaking here and there. The full list of games that were available for this playtest can be found below. These are the games that will be available at the launch of Insignia:

  • Counter-Strike
  • Crimson Skies, and its Live-enabled demo.
  • Dead or Alive Ultimate
  • MechAssault, and its Live-enabled demo.
  • Midtown Madness 3
  • MotoGP: Online Demo
  • Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II
  • Star Wars Jedi Academy
  • Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
  • Unreal Championship
  • Whacked! (and it's XBL Starter Kit Demo)
  • Xbox Live Arcade
  • XIII

In addition to Modern Vintage Gamer, the video game historian and archivist Andrew Borman was also in the closed playtest and uploaded a live stream of his own experiences, which you can watch here. There's currently no ETA on when this service will become more widely available, but we're excited to dig into it ourselves and see what other games will eventually make it onto the service.