Achievement Syncing Issues

Wednesday, August 8 was an unusual time for Xbox Live on Windows Phone. The Windows Phone Developer site and Marketplace both underwent some upgrades that week. Not everything went according to plan though, and that week’s new Xbox Live game Sally’s Spa didn’t show up until Thursday the 9th. Coincidentally, the Xbox Live Deal of the Week program came to an unceremonious end that week for unknown reasons.

Sally’s Spa (fun game though it is) initially appeared to suffer from some Achievement syncing issues. Specifically, some Achievements would unlock in-game (complete with the standard notification and sound effect) and show up as completed in the game’s Achievement list, and yet they failed to appear in the phone’s Games hub and In other words, though the Achievement unlocked during gameplay, they did not sync properly with the user’s Xbox Live profile.

There was no rhyme or reason to which Achievements wouldn’t sync – for instance, ‘Survivor’ doesn’t currently appear on my profile and yet ‘Super Survivor’ and ‘Expert Survivor’ (both of which come after the former) do.

Bigger than just a spa

This prompted much grumbling about the game’s bugginess, but as it turns out, Sally’s Spa is not the culprit at all. Starting on the 8th, the same issue has occurred for players of many Windows Phone games: Fruit Ninja, Assassin’s Creed, Little Acorns, Asphalt 5, and more. In one particularly heart-rending case, an Asphalt 5 player completed every goal in the game but didn’t get the game’s final Achievement, ‘Champion.’ Imagine the work it would take to start anew on that one!

Fight for the fix

Windows Phone Central as largely kept quiet on the matter, but that doesn’t mean we just sat around waiting for it to be fixed. Instead, your lovable gaming journalist immediately set out to investigate the cause of the Achievement syncing issue and inform the people who could fix the problem about it. After much effort, we finally have an official statement from Microsoft on the matter:

“Microsoft is aware that some Xbox Live Achievements obtained via games played on Windows Phone may not have synchronized properly with some user’s Xbox LIVE accounts. The issue has been resolved and we are restoring unsynchronized Achievements on user accounts affected by this issue.”

In other words, the cause of the problem has been located and fixed, and now we’re just waiting for the changes to go live. The timing is extremely similar to Microsoft’s deployment of the digital certificate fix for the Windows Phone Marketplace, but we're told there is no connection between those issues and the timing of their fixes.

Back in action (soon)

Most importantly for gamers, WP7 Achievement should start syncing properly within the next 24 hours, at which time our gaming lives can get back to normal. Achievements unlocked since the 8th should sync properly once the fix goes live, though it’s unclear whether you’ll need to boot the game back up or not to initiate the sync.

It’s great that Microsoft took the issue seriously and corrected it as fast as humanly possible. Were any of you affected by syncing problems, dear readers? And are you as glad as I am to put it all behind us?

Thanks to everyone who contacted us about this issue, as well as the good people we contacted in turn!

Update 1: The Achievements are taking longer to resync than we were told. We'll update again when we learn more.

Update 2: The Achievements finally synced a few days after this article went live.