In this series of semi-regular posts we take a closer look at new and upcoming features for Xbox, and speculate on what they might mean for the console and the brand.
At their E3 2016 briefing, Microsoft announced a handful of new features coming to Xbox, but in the glitz and glamour of the City of Angels detail was, predictably, light. Let’s take a closer look at one of those new features, Looking for Group.
Looking for Group (LFG) allows players to browse and send classified ad-like posts to the Xbox Live community, with the aim of connecting to like-minded players ands teaming up. We all understand the frustration of, for example, the lack of in-game matchmaking for Destiny’s Raids; LFG will allow you to offer your raiding services, or seek out raid party members with the skills and temperament you’re looking for. It’s a natural extension of the Xbox Game Hub system – every game has its own ‘hub’, where developers can post updates on the game (fully utilised on Xbox-exclusive titles, but implementation is varied on third party games) and from where you can easily access your game-specific stats.
Looking For Group will appear as a new tab on each Game Hub, and it’s here that you can browse the ads placed by others, or place your own. The ads will appear as cards, complete with art from the game in question. When you create an ad you’ll be able to set a number of tags – for example “no swearing please” or “over forties only” and, as an ad creator, you will be able to decide which of applicants will be able to join you in game. Successful applicants will receive an Xbox notification that, when selected, will pull them straight into the game (and party if appropriate) relevant to the ad – just like any other Xbox Live game invitation.
LFG acts a bit like an in-console version of services like destinylfg.net, but for all games, a bit like Overdog – one of our favourite gaming apps; and a bit like Xbox 360’s Beacons (remember those?) By bringing together the best aspects of these tools, and putting them right in our console, Microsoft has the opportunity to further strengthen Xbox Live and prove that there’s more to creating a great video game experience than shifting pixels around.
Of course, we say ‘in-console’ but Microsoft is building LFG across Xbox One and Windows 10 – with Play Anywhere in the works and cross platform play hovering nearby, that decision only makes sense.
All this feels like a perfect fit for Xbox Live – a powerful, but huge and sprawling network of millions of fellow video game fans. Anything that helps us make the right connection amongst the millions possible can only enhance our experience and increase the fun.
What do you think of Xbox Live Looking For Groups? Let us know in the comments!