Why Won’t My Xbox 360 Read Game Discs? You May Have Overlooked Something.

why won't my xbox 360 play game discs

For what you pay for an Xbox, there’s a lot that seems to go catastrophically wrong. Red ring of death, DVD drive failures, and excessive overheating come to mind. Today’s frustration focuses on a more in-depth problem: why won’t my Xbox 360 read game discs?

The game disc looks clean, so why is it still skipping and freezing?  If you’re like me, you’ve taken your Xbox apart, wrapped towels around it, and sacrificed a baby lamb to the YouTube gods in hopes a twelve year old’s how-to video will end your misery. All in a last-ditch effort to just play Call of Duty 47.

You could send it in to Microsoft, but then that usually requires 2-4 weeks of no Xbox. Which is just not going to be an option.

why won't my xbox 360 read game discs


You’re resourceful. There’s no easy way to get inside and scrub that sucker with Windex and a paper towel, but you’re the determined type who doesn’t want to risk not being able to play GTAV every hour of every day. Just how does a laser lens work, anyway?

Why Won’t My Xbox 360 Read Game Discs?

The major contributing factor to a disc read error is a dirty optical lens (the one that your Xbox 360 laser passes through to read the disc itself). If there is dirt or dust on the laser lens, your system will eventually fail to read the game disc.  Lots of brushes and DVD-style discs have been on the market for years that claim to clean the lens effectively.  The main word that gets forgotten frequently is safety.

Sure, cleaning a game system isn’t a dangerous task (unless you’ve got your Xbox opened up and are removing hardware with pliers outdoors during a thunderstorm). No, it is a fragile task.  The laser lens can get knocked out of alignment easily with the wrong approach.  I’m sure you’re gentle with all of your toys, especially the Xbox. But you need a special tool for this.

Here’s how to safely clean a laser lens: Use CleanDr Laser Lens Cleaner for Xbox.


why won't my xbox 360 read game discs


CleanDr is the go-to solution for repairing and cleaning both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One laser lens. Here’s how it works.

  1. Simply insert the CleanDr disc into your Xbox 360 or Xbox One DVD tray (with the graphics side facing up).  It will automatically play.
  2. Follow the on-screen voice instructions.  The disc will immediately begin spinning with a patented, Zero-Clearance process.  With a standard electronics brush, you hand-brush the lens until the illusion of a cleaner lens appears.  In reality, your standard brush leaves gaps. The miniscule brushes on the CleanDr disc are arranged in a way to ensure that no spot on your laser lens is overlooked.  The entire lens surface is covered.
  3. In addition, the 10-brush Cyclone Clean process aggressively removes dust, dirt, and debris without causing scratches.  The Cyclone Clean intuitively cleans the lens for long-term image and sound quality improvements.  Say goodbye to skipping, slow loading, and errors.


why won't my xbox 360 read game discs



Replacing a console is expensive. Cleaning the laser lens yourself is not.

Does it really work as advertised? Feel free to do your research (this guy really seems to like it, and swears like a sailor) and carefully follow these instructions once you buy it. Hey, it’s a lot better than buying an all-new system. Better yet, CleanDr works fast, even if your very dirty lens requires a few rounds of cleaning. After a few minutes, you will be back trying to beat The Four Kings in Dark Souls 2. Keyword trying.

All jokes aside, we’re experiencing another truly amazing time in gaming. Don’t let little hardware hiccups derail what matters most – the magic of the game.

CleanDr is available for Playstation consoles, PCs, and DVD/Blu-Ray players as well.  Give it a try.



83 thoughts on “Why Won’t My Xbox 360 Read Game Discs? You May Have Overlooked Something.

  1. Foster Justice says:

    So I’ve recently tripped over my audio cord while it was plugged in the game (I was cleaning) at the time the game was on with gta v on pause the disc popped out of place and was spinning out of control inside the console so I quickly pushed the eject button and it popped back into place but now my game refuses to read gta v what should I do ?

  2. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Hey Foster! This sounds like a unique hardware problem with the disc tray itself. Have you tried playing other games? If other discs work fine, than it may be an issue with the GTAV disc. But more likely, you knocked something loose (laser lens is damaged) or out of alignment with the DVD tray itself. Unfortunately, this is probably a question for XBOX’s support rather than us. Let me know what ends up happening and good luck! – Joe

  3. jasen says:

    Ok my problem is that my xbox360 will play all movies cuss and all game but won’t read any call of duty games. At first glance I would say a cleaning issue but it reads any other game I have. The cod disks are fine and I had friends bring over their copys of cod games and it says NO!!!.. any idea would be useful. Thanks

  4. Joe Haggenjos says:


    What error message does your XBOX360 display when you try to play your COD games? Usually there will be an error message and number. It seems odd that other games work and Call of Duty doesn’t. Also, it could be something in your parental settings that doesn’t allow it. Either way, you’d have to tell me more details about what happens when you insert the disc before I can be more helpful. Please let me know!

  5. Tamer says:

    I was paying GTA V a day or so earlier and all of a sudden it wont read the disc but all the other games play fine, whats wrong and how can I fix the problem safely!?

  6. Steve says:

    hi, so my issue is that when I close my disc tray the xbox makes two buzzing noises then tells me to open the tray, any ideas on what this problem is and how to fix it???

  7. Cheryl Stewart says:

    If that happens for every disc you put in, that’s a question you will need to ask Xbox.
    Our laser lens cleaner is only for cleaning that is not a problem it will fix.

    -Cheryl, Digital Innovations Customer Support

  8. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Tamer, I bet it’s a problem with your disc rather than your Xbox. If there appears to be damage on the underside of your disc, try using SkipDr.

  9. Travis says:

    Hey, my xbox 360 will start to load the game up and then it will go silent and disconnect me from xbox LIVE. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  10. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Go silent: Issue with the audio cord plugged into your TV? Or an issue with the game needing an update?
    Disconnect from XBL: Either a WiFi/Ethernet/Broadband issue (go to ‘Test Connection’ in Settings) or your Xbox needs an update.

    In short, if it’s exclusively that game that is causing problems, and is not scratched – try an update. If you still run into similar problems (with other discs as well), but don’t want to replace your XBox, see if CleanDrhelps at all after several spins.

    If updates and the laser lens are not the issue, that it may be time to get in touch with Xbox support (which is actually really helpful in my experience).

  11. Mesan says:

    Hi good day.. Iv have the similiar problem as lynden.. When I insert a dvd it plays and works.. But when I insert a game it says play dvd.. And when I select play dvd it shows xbox 360 and doesn’t go further.. I opened my xbox up nd cleaned it but no luck.. Only movies work.. Please help!!..

  12. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Don, that sounds like the exact symptoms we developed CleanDr to fix. If the laser lens that reads the discs is dirty, the discs can spin but won’t always load. Have him try DVDs as well just to be sure it’s a lens problem. I just wrote a really in-depth post on the red ring of death and opening your console up here.

  13. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Mesan, I think it’s most likely a loose laser lens. They have screws on the back that can come loose if you’ve opened your Xbox before. In general, if you open your Xbox, there’s always a risk that something can come “undone.” Messing with screws on hardware puts you at risk for electric shock, so I would not recommend making any adjustments on your own without knowing the risks.

  14. raquel says:

    My Xbox360 slim Is’d freakin out. We put the game in, it says reading then stops spinning and says open tray. ..help?

  15. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Hey Raquel! “Open tray” is the most common error with the newer Slims. A few quick things you could try:
    – Check another disc. A DVD, another game. Just to make sure it’s not the disc that’s currently not playing.
    – When it says open tray, press the eject button once to open the tray and then press eject again to close. This will attempt to re-read your disc. Five minutes of repeating this and you may get lucky.
    – Grab our CleanDr laser lens cleaner. It’s made to address this error specifically. Your Slim’s disc-reading laser gets dusty and dirty and needs to be cleaned very delicately to get rid of the open tray error. For the 360 Slim, it’s right here.

  16. Joe Haggenjos says:

    You can find CleanDr at Gamestop. We’re actually the company that makes SkipDr, which you may have seen in their stores. If you end up picking up CleanDr for Xbox, just know that it may require four or five cleaning sessions before your laser gets fully cleaned.

  17. Michael says:

    I had just bought skyrim 2nd hand when it would just start to freeze at opening credits and have been having a lot of freezing problems lately. So I tried to install skyrim when it said the disc cannot be read around 20%. I formatted my Xbox and now am trying to install Diablo 3ROS and now it won’t read the disc either (around 58%) WHATS a guy supposed to do?

  18. Steve says:

    My xbox will not load any games or movies. It keeps saying unrecognized disc’s I cleared my cache and the disc’s are all brand new. Is there anything I can do?

  19. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Try some other game discs first. That way, you can tell if it’s an issue with the new disc or not. Most likely, your Xbox needs an update and a strong laser lens clean.

  20. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Make sure you have enough room on your hard drive. Installing huge games like Skyrim or Diablo III requires a large chunk of space to run smoothly. For Skyrim specifically, I found that most freezing issues would occur if I had more than three game saves taking up space. Running huge RPGs on a console can cause performance issues if you haven’t taken the time to clear some space on your HD.

  21. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Do you notice anything else unusual (blinking lights, weird noises, hot temperatures, etc.)? Any on screen messages? There’s plenty worth looking into before you resort to sending it into Xbox support. We have CleanDr on sale for fifteen dollars, which is a low cost for a major laser lens cleaning. Let me know what you decide and best of luck!

  22. Justin says:

    Hi, I dropped my xbox and the xbox wouldn’t turn on I got it fixed but now my xbox won’t read games it reads movies and cds no problem, when I got it fixed the guy said there is nothing wrong with it the cpu is shocked that’s it. When I put a game in it says play game but when I play it it send me back to the dashboard and when I click details it shows me the details to one of my downloaded games. Help please I got a new game and I cant play it.

  23. Joe Haggenjos says:

    I’m not sure why the fact your CPU was “shocked” (not sure what that actually means) just from dropping your console. When your Xbox suffers from being dropped, all manner of inside parts can become damaged or break loose. I would consider sending your system into Microsoft and have them take a look themselves. I wish I could be of more assistance, but it sounds like there was worse damage done than what your initial repair guy let on.

  24. Aaron says:

    my just doesn’t work haven’t been on the Xbox for a long time but I’ve kept it clean I don’t know why its not working until I get it checked I need your help

  25. Decovan the tiffany wade lover says:

    Can some help me!!? I’m a 13 year old boy and my Xbox 360. everytime I close it it would say open tray,but before that it will make to sounds and then it’ll say open tray…..please…help me I need it baldy I won a get back to playing sonic o6..and gta ,so please help?

  26. Jacob says:

    My Xbox has been working fine for some years but earlier this year it began to start freezing frequently. It’d play for about 10-15 min and freeze. I’d try again and it’d play for 5 min and freeze. I don’t have a hard drive, it’s not over heating and neither have I gotten the RROD. What should I do?

  27. Matthew says:

    I purchased COD advanced warfare when I play on my xbox360 it allowed me to play one multiplayer match. Then a message came up saying disc unreadable. I turned it off and back on same message comes up. I tried installing and it has gotten all the way to 70% complete and same error message. I uninstalled it tried again and again same thing. I deleted corrupted files and still no luck. Is this happening to anyone else? I played the same disc on another xbox360 we have and it plays fine.

  28. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Miguel – It may be an open tray error or a problem with your disc tray itself. You can find replacement parts for cheap at sites like Newegg. If you’d rather not try and fix it yourself, you may need to go directly to Microsoft for support. Good luck!

  29. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Nora – How long have you had the system for? Have you tried updating the system? This could be an “Open Tray Error” or a hard drive malfunction. Any onscreen error codes or messages that hint at the problem?

  30. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Decovan – Sorry your Xbox isn’t working right. It sounds like the Open Tray Error. Sometimes this error happens when your laser lens is dirty and does not read discs properly. Other times, it is a defect with your disc tray itself. I’d need to know more details before giving more advice.

  31. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Jacob – If your games are booting up fine, but freezing after only 15 minutes (how annoying)… Make sure your Xbox is completely up to date. Freezing of games can also happen if your discs are scratched. I’ve also experienced freezing when there are a lot of large save files on your system (games like Skyrim and GTA can eat up space fast). If none of these seem to be the issue, you may need to get in touch with Microsoft support.

  32. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Matthew – Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’ve done a fair amount of good troubleshooting. Depending on how long you’ve had the malfunctioning Xbox for, it sounds exactly like a laser lens issue. Check out CleanDr for Xbox – we developed it specifically to address unreadable disc errors. The only other possibility I can guess is you do not have sufficient space on your hard drive for the game installation. But even in that scenario, you would get an error message stating that. Best of luck!

  33. manuel says:

    Ok so my xbox 360 slim seems to have a problem that when I put in whatever disk it just say open tray so will a laser disk cleaner really help my problem?

  34. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Manuel – Research open tray errors on Slims. You’ll find a large number of things could cause this error. Our product cleans the laser lens, not the disc itself. An open tray error can be caused by faulty hardware, but it can also be a simple problem like a dirty laser lens. CleanDr is an option for you to try if you’d rather not send your Xbox to the repair shop or Microsoft right away.

  35. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Hey Nate, thanks for the heads up. It is clearly not a problem with the discs, but a hardware issue with your Xbox 360. Try and do some more research on the “symptoms” your Xbox has and see if anything turns up. If the system boots up fine, but fails to operate when playing disc-based games, then my money is on the dirty laser lens. We made the LLC to safely clean your fragile laser lens without disrupting it. Don’t give up!

  36. Seth says:

    my Xbox plays dvd’s just fine. However, when I try playing any game it will load the game for a few seconds and then just close back out to the dashboard. Another small detail, when I put any game in and push game details it says “hydro thunder.” (A game I have saved on the Xbox) any solution would be great. Thanks

  37. Sage becenti says:

    Well my advanced warfare would play for a good 10 minutes and the it would say that it might be scratched or dirty but I got it 5 days ago and its perfect. . Some games name and picture would show up on the home menu but once I start it the same pop up. . .but some games work perfectly fine. . .WTFFFFF. . Idk what’s going on

  38. Erick Workman says:

    My xbox got knocked off my table and hit on it bottom vertically and got the ring of death but now it wont read my game it only reads my madden nfl 15 but no other games just bought battlefield four and wont play please help

  39. Erick Workman says:

    When it got the ring of death it shook it and it came back on but only reads one game now please help

  40. Mitchell West says:

    Hey, just curious I have the old school white xbox 360 and recently my xbox has been occasionally popping up in the middle of when im playing “The disk is unreadable” or something like that and I have to cut the game off. That was for NCAA Football 14. Doesn’t do it often though. Then two days ago I bought the new racing game The Crew and with in the last couple days of having it the system has popped up with the disk is not readable thing more and more often to the point where I cant play the racing game for more than 10 mins with out it doing it. Still doing it but not as often with my football game. Does this sound like anything that the lens cleaning thing your advertising could help out with? I also know my xbox had to update after buying the new racing game to which idk if that messed with the xbox. Any suggestions?

  41. Aaron says:

    My xbox will read and play DVD’s just fine. When i put in a game it says play game. I select it and it goes like it’s going to run the game the back to the dashboard with play game still an option. Any ideas?

  42. Derrick carmack says:

    Hi i was playing wolfenstein the new order last night on xbox 360 and i got to disk 3 and it was playing just fine until it froze midgame is that because of my lens being dirty or another issue?

  43. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Derrick – Could be old game files taking up space. Will the disc not work at all now? If all discs you try playing on your 360 are freezing or failing to load, then it’s the dirty laser lens issue.

  44. Mako Mori says:

    My Xbox isn’t reading any discs. And when I mean any disc- I mean ANY discs. Not even the cleandr! What do you suggest? (it’s almost Christmas and I got four new games I wanna play)

  45. Wardell Williams says:

    I recently bought a brand new copy of borderlands the presequel and it keeps giving me the disc is unreadable error. When I look at game details it says I have to buy the game, yet it is in the tray. Possible explanation.?

  46. matthew says:

    We have 2 Xbox 360 systems..we just got skylander trap team…it works on one but not the other. They other system is playing other games fine…what do you think?

  47. Joe Haggenjos says:

    This note is for Matthew – are you able to play the game now? There was a major outage/”hack” in Xbox’s service on Christmas Day. Not really sure what else the problem is without more details!

  48. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Contact whomever you purchased the disc from and attempt to exchange for another copy. That’s extremely bizarre!

  49. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Have you had any more luck with your Xbox? If it won’t even read CleanDr, than I’m worried that it is a more serious hardware malfunction. You’ll want to contact Microsoft Support for that.

  50. Joe Haggenjos says:

    It sounds like you are having an issue with the hardware itself – laser cleaner won’t fix that, unfortunately. Contact Microsoft.

  51. Brian Rodgers says:

    The laser on my xbox 360 will only run for a couple seconds then stop. do you think one of the Clean Dr Laser Lens Cleaner fix this or des it sound like i have hardware problems?

  52. bianca ramirez says:

    i recently bought GTA 5 and installed the first disc to my xbox 360 fine but then when i tried putting in the second one it was only reading like the first 10 seconds of it.. i tried it in another xbox and it worked fine so its bot the game but also tried putting in mafia 2 and it is also a two disc game and it wont play it … but all other one diac games work fine … someone help .!

  53. chris says:

    So my friend has 3 Xbox all with different issues so we take them apart put together one working so far and it’s working great reading movies no problem but the games won’t work it says play game you click on it and it tries to go in then falls back any idea what part would cause that

  54. original xbox 360 works on everything but "call of duty" says:

    I can put any disc in except any version of call of duty and it works…any suggestions on what may be going on????

  55. Lois says:

    Xbox360 was fine playing minecraft yesterday, never had an issue before…this morning tried to play fall out and it’s not recognising there’s a disc? Tried Minecraft and other games and doesnt seem to recognise theres a disc in the disc drive for any game?

  56. original xbox 360 works on everything but "call of duty" says:

    cleaned out the cache and Call of duty came alive again. I guess it couldn’t load everything that was needed. But the error message was unreadable disc….go figure???!!!

  57. Ebony says:

    I bought a brand new GTA V for my xbox 360 but when i went to install it, it came up with a message saying the disk was unreadable and to clean it. I cleaned the xbox and the disk multiple times and it still came up with the same thing. I decided to get it replaced with ANOTHER brand new GTA V and the same thing is happening and i don’t know how to fix it. All my other games work fine so i know for sure that it isn’t the xbox. No other message and no numbers come up it just says that the disk is unreadable. Help! D:

  58. Nathen says:

    I recently got nba 2k15 and it not working but all my other new games are what should I do to get it to work is there just to much storage saved to the game.

  59. Markel Williams says:

    Everytime I am trying to play a game, it goes to the xbox homescreen. I installed NBA 2k14 to my hard drive yet it always go back to the homescreen. Really confused

  60. Joe Haggenjos says:

    Lj – contact Digital Innovations’ customer support. It’s a small team, so you may not hear from someone for a few days. Go to our support page, pick the product you bought, then go to the Support tab on the page. Under Contact Us, you can submit your info there and someone will help!

  61. becky says:

    It keeps saying that the disc isn’t recognized. I just bought the games and I’m furious. I’m a PlayStation girl and my boyfriend is an Xbox guy. So I’m giving Xbox a chance. Do I still try cleaning the lenses

  62. Gary says:

    Hey Joe, I have the Xbox 360 slim, 250G version. The console was working perfectly until I started playing a new copy of DA Inquisition recently. I get the “unreadable disc” error message now after only a few minutes of gameplay. At first, it was just happening with that game, now it’s happening with all games. (Dvds play fine, strangely) Do you think CleanDr could sort this, and if so, where can i purchase it in Ireland?

    Thank you in advance for any assistance given.

  63. Benjamin says:

    Hey there is some mething wrong with my disc drive. It won’t open. When I take it apart and put a disc in, then put it together again, it only says reading disc

  64. ronald says:

    My Xbox 360 will read dvd and dads but I put In Xbox 360 game and it says play dvd and stays on the screen and I press play multiple times and it says attempting to read media and never does nothing I need help

  65. Kiya says:

    Okay my Xbox won’t read any discs at all. It says reading but then it just says open tray again. I’ve taken it apart a few times to clean the lens but it only works a couple of times and quits again. Not sure what to do.

  66. Bob P. says:

    I’d like to try the DR Cleaner but my Xbox 360 is not sending a signal to the HDTV. It was working a week ago and now it doesn’t. I open the tray, put in the DVD game and close it. I hear the fan running and other mechanical sounds (nothing loud), yet my HDMI game source on the HDTV says “no signal”, not even an error code. I made sure the HDMI cable was tightly inserted on both ends, but nothing. Xbox support mentions nothing about my issue. Please advise. Thanks.

  67. Chris says:

    My Xbox plays every game and move even if they are really scratched and then I really liked gta5 so I bought a brand new one never been used and it won’t play it or any gta. While it’s loading it stops on the “loading story mode” screen and I bought a brand new one and it did the same thing

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