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, Clubs.
Clubs are exactly whet they sound like – little gangs of like-minded folks who have some common interest. That might be a particular game, or it might be something different. It’s easy to imagine Clans setting up their own Clubs, for example, or Dad Gamers. As with Looking for Group, Clubs can describe themselves and their ethos using Tags. This might be “New Players Welcome” or “Swearing allowed.”
As with LFG, Clubs are embedded within Game hubs/ From here players can search for and join clubs that interest them. Club membership is controlled by Club managers, who have the ability to allow anyone to join, require invites, or even exclude uninvited members entirely. Clubs are all about community, and club members have some control, too; Club moderators can set profanity filters and age restrictions, and even eject members who don’t play nicely with others. As with any group, it will be the owners and moderators to control the group, removing toxic comments and banishing trolls to beneath the bridge from which they crawled. As in any other aspect of Xbox Live the terms of service still apply, and anyone can report content they deem offensive as usual.
Clubs have a dedicated news feed, allowing Club members to post game clips, content, and screenshots. Members have access to chatrooms, too, which can be accessed on the console and via the Xbox apps.
As with LFG, Clubs aren’t doing anything that isn’t already catered for by Facebook and other websites. The neat trick here is building this into the Xbox experience, putting all this social power right at your controller-wielding fingertips.
There are around 46 million active Xbox Live members; that’s a huge and scary community, and LFG and Clubs are clearly an attempt to make finding like minded people to play with as friendly a process as possible. It’s a clever move – and if Ybarra and his team can pull it off it’s another way to lock players into the Xbox ecosystem, further strengthening Xbox Live and cementing its place as the best gaming network around, bar none.
Looking for Group and Clubs will launch in October 2016.