After a year, Xbox's integration with Medal.tv is... Messy

Image of Xbox Series X lying on side with Xbox Wireless Controller.
(Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Enjoying the endless array of beautiful video games is wonderful, but the draw of a passionate, connected community is what makes the experience truly special for many gamers. Being able to share gaming experiences with fellow players is important to thousands, and it's an area in which Xbox has failed to amaze and innovate over the last few years.

In Oct. 2021, Xbox announced a partnership with popular gaming social network Medal.tv, which would enable users to upload, edit, and share their Xbox game clips directly in Medal.tv, to Medal.tv. Just over a year later, that partnership with Medal.tv expanded to also include the Xbox Game Bar on PC, allowing users to jump seamlessly into Medal.tv to edit and share their PC captures.

I spent some time with Medal.tv and its Xbox integration to discover how much value it brings to Xbox players, and I came away with a messy conclusion. Medal.tv's Xbox integration is great for existing Medal.tv users, but what value does it bring to Xbox-only users? More importantly — Xbox has all the pieces it needs to be a thriving gaming social network, so why hasn't it happened?

Using Medal.tv and Xbox together

Screenshot of Medal.tv's mobile, desktop, and web apps.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Medal.tv is a popular social network focused on video games, with hundreds of thousands of active users editing and sharing their game clips and recordings from thousands of different games. The platform shares many similarities with TikTok's video-only format, and offers a seamless viewing experience across a website, full-featured desktop application, and a mobile app on Android and iOS platforms.

Medal.tv isn't a nascent, just-blooming service trying to prove itself with a unique premise and a bare list of features — It's a successful, mature platform with an active community that's continuing to grow. Now, the social media app is integrating with Xbox in the hopes of drawing the attention of an all-new group of potential users. So, how is the experience of using Medal.tv with Xbox?

Medal.tv's usability can be split into three tiers: the website, which only allows you to view content; the mobile apps, which let you upload and share simple posts without in-depth editing; and the full-featured desktop app that includes a suite of powerful editing tools and additional options. While a premium monthly subscription is available with additional features, I didn't see any indication that the free account was unusable long-term.

Both the mobile and desktop apps support importing cloud-uploaded Xbox game clips from your connected Xbox account to Medal.tv, where you can share to your feed and generate a Medal.tv link to share to other platforms and networks. Microsoft's Xbox Game Bar feature on PC is able to redirect players and their PC game clips directly to the Medal.tv's desktop app and editing suite for a seamless experience.

Screenshot of Medal.tv's mobile, desktop, and web apps.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

All of this works great! It was easy to sign-up for Medal.tv with my Xbox account, and it's easy to connect your Xbox account if you're already a Medal.tv user. My Xbox cloud-uploaded game clips, displaying my mediocre gameplay in Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite, appeared quickly and reliably in Medal.tv on both my phone and PC; It only took moments to upload and share them. For more in-depth editing and tweaking, the Medal.tv desktop app felt more than competent. Recording a quick clip in Counter Strike: Global Offensive and uploading it to Medal.tv using the Xbox Game Bar was even easier, with a single click bringing me straight into editing and letting me share within seconds.

Xbox's integration into Medal.tv feels fine... For Medal.tv users. The value of these features is contingent on your investment in Medal.tv as a social network, or your interest in regularly using it. Xbox gamers looking for an easier, more consistent way of sharing their game clips with friends where those friends already are may not notice much improvement with Medal.tv integration. For one, there is no way to effectively use Medal.tv entirely from your Xbox. Secondly, the service wants your game clips to stay on Medal.tv, or shared to other platforms via a unique Medal.tv link. This makes sense for Medal.tv, but it ultimately highlights a failing of Xbox to use the platform it already has.

You can see more of Medal.tv's website, and desktop and mobile apps, below.

Imagining what the Xbox platform could be

Image of the Xbox Wireless Controller "Share" button.

(Image credit: Xbox)

In the past, Xbox itself has recognized the importance of enabling native and seamless social experiences on its platform. Activity Feeds let users share their Achievements, game clips, captures, and other posts to their profile, while Official Game Clubs provide places where players can find updates from their favorite Xbox games and interact with other players. The new Xbox Wireless Controller that arrives with every Xbox Series X|S console comes with a built-in "Share" button to make the capture and sharing of game clips even more effortless.

Unfortunately, Xbox has shown itself unable to follow-through on its short-term investments, with many of its Xbox social features falling by the wayside and eventually being confined to the background. Finding community-created content is obfuscated under multiple obscure layers and shows a distinct lack of engagement from users, while many Official Game Clubs seem abandoned by both the game's developers and its players. Most notably, the Xbox DVR that provides the foundation for the platform's social features is riddled with bugs, unreliable, and stripped of useful features.

Whether you're on your Xbox or using one of the various mobile or desktop applications, finding and sharing your game captures is never particularly fun or flawless. Even the simple process of sharing a game clip to Twitter is far more uncertain than it should be. I have completely given up using my Xbox to manage my captures or upload them to OneDrive, for example, because of how often the experience breaks down in some way.

Xbox is attempting to at least rectify some of the issues plaguing Xbox DVR with a new Xbox Captures app currently in testing with Xbox Insiders. Still, it could be argued that Xbox is doing too little, too late to encourage connection within its community. Using Medal.tv for a matter of hours has highlighted how I fervently wish Xbox would deliver a similar experience native to its expansive ecosystem — a social network where users can explore and interact with content created by fellow gamers, built upon a reliable, polished, and powerful backend of capturing, editing, and sharing features.

I understand that this would be a huge undertaking for an Xbox that is just now shaking off the excess weight and bizarre decisions of a generation long-past, but many of the necessary components already exist along the fringes of the Xbox ecosystem. While Xbox's integration into Medal.tv is fantastic news for Medal.tv users, it leaves the rest of us with a still-compromised experience. It has never been easier to play games on Xbox, thanks to the advent of services like Xbox Game Pass and the arrival of gamer-centric features like Quick Resume and Smart Delivery, but it also has never been more difficult to share that experience with other gamers.