Five Features We Want to See on Xbox Live
Xbox Live has changed quite a bit since launching in 2002, here are five features/improvements that we would like to see come to the service.
Xbox Live has come a long way since first launching on the original Xbox in 2002; the online gaming market and the service have changed quite a bit since then for a variety of reasons. With over 20 million Xbox Live users and the rapid growth/competition from rival services, Xbox Live will need to continue to redefine itself to set the service apart from competitors and make the service more appealing to the masses. Here is a list of five features that we would like to see brought to the service.
5. Easier marketplace navigation:
It's hard to find a PC digital distributor that doesn't allow you to browse listings by publisher. A similar feature on the Xbox Live Marketplace could help users find other content created by a studio they were recently introduced to or help those familiar with a studio to see if a certain item is available for purchase. When browsing the marketplace on the Xbox 360 there is little in place to make the process easy, being able to browse by publisher or developer would make the "hunt" a lot more enjoyable and pleasant.
A search feature similar to the one found on the official Xbox website for marketplace content or even the PlayStation Store would make purchasing content, especially older content feel less like a chore for users who are browsing on their consoles.
And finally, why not a "similar games" feature akin to something you might see on Amazon? This could not only introduce gamers to titles they may have never tried before but it may also help spur sales, something more niche genres could really benefit from. The system could be based on user purchases, how a user rates items, or even play time, most of which is already tracked by the service. Did you like Space Giraffe? Here's Rez HD!
4. Avatar support with GFWL:
Currently, Avatar support with GFWL is poorly implemented if at all. The only game to use the "avatar" concept is Game Room and even then it's essentially non-existent. Your current Xbox Live avatars cannot transition over to a GFWL title nor can you create a new avatar to make up for it. Instead, you have to choose from a predefined selection of avatars to take full advantage of titles such as Game Room. The avatar you pick is not tied to your account either meaning you won't see them in any other game, simply in Game Room.
Since day one, Microsoft has always pushed the customization aspect of avatars on the Xbox 360 as a feature; certain looks even have a price tag attached to them. Allowing avatars to transfer over to other compatible platforms seems like a logical step which has not yet been taken.
3. More features for Xbox Live Gold:
With the increased price point of certain Xbox Live subscriptions in various parts of the world and the number of features offered by Sony's premium subscription service PlayStation Plus, we would like to see more features for Xbox Live Gold members. Rewarding long time Xbox Live Gold subscribers with incentives such as free games, movie rentals, etc may further justify the price point in the eyes of many.
These features can transcend the Xbox 360 similar to PlayStation Plus working across the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. Xbox Live in some form is now available on the Xbox 360, PC, Zune, and even Windows Phone; only Xbox 360 users need to pay for added benefits. Adding benefits for the other platforms but keeping the core free on the other devices may encourage more users to "jump in" knowing a single subscription will add bonuses to a variety of devices they may own or use. For example, I would be more inclined to purchase Xbox Live Gold on a yearly basis if as a benefit I could get discounted rates on either the Games for Windows Live Marketplace or Zune Marketplace (including Windows Phone 7 apps) when purchasing content.
When it comes to incentives Microsoft does however hold regular promotions for Xbox Live subscriptions through the Xbox Live Dashboard for either cheaper subscription rates or a return via Microsoft Points. At a time when many have begun to question the subscription price point users may look towards such actions as a reason to continue subscribing or to choose the Xbox 360 over other platforms for multiplayer gaming.