A Tale of Two Blacks

Black, Criterion Games’ 2006 “gun porn” extravaganza, was just recently submitted to the site by a reader. I started doing my usual research and found that, sure enough, the Xbox 360 version has been delisted. But wait, has it? Digging around other storefronts revealed that it was still available through EA Access, and then I found that it was still listed on Microsoft’s Xbox One backward compatibility list with a link to buy.

More confused than when I started, I headed back Xbox.com and found two separate pages for the game. The original Games on Demand release still has no Buy link while the other listing does, and it also sports a much more recent release date of June 11th, 2019. I even fired up an Xbox 360 to check from the console side and found it readily available to buy (although I didn’t go through with the purchase to confirm).

The submitter mentioned that the last time that they saw Black was available via the older link was March 7th and that it was gone by June 29th. So it looks like Microsoft or EA had some reason in mid-June 2019 to relist the game as a separate new release. The developer is still listed as Criterion Games and the studio is very much active so it wasn’t because of them. Did something change in the way Xbox Originals pages are built on the Xbox.com site and thusly how they’re purchased through an Xbox console? Checking scans of the manual and the game’s end credits doesn’t confirm if real world gun manufacturers were licensed for the in-game “frankenguns” either. 

Oh, the questions one has to ask when researching delisted games. Since I don’t need to add the game to the site now I thought I’d post my “research notes” partly in reply to the person who submitted it, and to show some of the things I check to dig up details. Anybody want to join me? It’s fascinating and frustrating all at the same time.