Will Xbox Live Be a Hangout?

By  |  Monday, June 1, 2009 at 4:30 pm

xboxlivecardMicrosoft wasn’t shy about its intentions during today’s E3 press event: It’s trying to branch out beyond the typical gamer set. Project Natal is one piece of the puzzle, and so is Xbox Live, for which the company revealed five significant additions and improvements.

Let’s make this nice and easy with a list:

Social Networking: Come this fall, Facebook and Twitter will be accessible through Xbox Live. A demonstration showed the usual features, such as status updates and friend lists, presented in the New Xbox Experience’s distinct windows. One feature allows Facebook friends to find each others’ Xbox 360 Gamertags.

“Live Party”: Friends on Xbox Live can watch videos or listen to music together over the Internet. In a brief demonstration, avatars gathered in front of a television (within a television, of course), watching and reacting to the content.

Zune Marketplace: As we heard when Microsoft announced the Zune HD, Xbox Live’s video service will become Zune-branded, but it’ll get at least one substantive change in the form of 1080p streaming videos.

Last.fm: Xbox Live Gold members around the world will have access to millions of songs through Last.fm, simple as that.

Netflix Improvements: My biggest gripe with the Xbox’ 360s Netflix service was the inability to select movies or manage playlists directly on the console. Fortunately, that will change, so a PC is no longer required.

While the Zune and Netflix developments are just tweaks to existing services, the other three announcements go in a different direction. Microsoft wants the Xbox 360 to be a hangout. I can almost sense this ideal of families or friends crowded around the tube, getting a dose of interactive entertainment.

But will people get into it? Live Party didn’t get an enthusiastic response at the press event, and the social networking seems a little clunky for everyday use (especially without a keyboard). I’m reluctant to make a bold prediction either way, but I’m curious to see how this effort pans out.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike Says:

    One word Chatpad!

  2. Marc Says:

    People using their Xbox 360 instead of their Netbook to access Facebook sure isn’t going to help global warming!

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