Microsoft Plotting a New, Friendlier Xbox Live for Xbox One

Microsoft is taking steps to elevate the reputation of its popular but notorious online service, Xbox Live, for its third console, this fall's Xbox One. If they pull this off, the more positive gamers of the world might enjoy their online gaming sessions a little more.

A chief change involves a new, improved reputation system that will influence who plays together on the Xbox One's online service. "There is a new system in what we call Live 3.0 internally that totally remaps the matchmaking, and there is a reputational element to it as well," Phil Harrison, one of Microsoft's corporate vice president for games, told Kotaku at yesterday's big Xbox One event in Redmond, Washington.

"We want the best gaming citizens of Xbox Live to be mapped together and joined together and I think that’s a really positive movement for the community," Harrison said.

The reputation system would presumably involve some sort of scoring of Xbox Live users, possibly by each other, though it is not clear how this would work, how visible it would be, nor how significantly it would differ from rep systems attempted on the current Xbox Live.

Harrison promised more details will come later.

The Xbox One will also increase the number of friends an Xbox Live user can have to 1,000. Some gamers (including the person typing these words) can't remember who their Xbox Live friends all are. The Gamertags they use obscure their identities. Just who is ClownCarXX85 again? Asked whether users would be able to identify their friends with their real names, Harrison said, "I think you will see a general movement toward more real identity on Xbox One and on Live in general." Real identity is another way of saying "real names."

Xbox Live is available to all users of the Xbox 360, but to play multiplayer games and use special apps like Netflix, users have to pay a subscription that costs $60 a year. While Microsoft heavily touted features like Skype for Xbox One yesterday, they did not say whether they would require a paid Live account or if such a distinction is even relevant. A live-action Halo TV show was described as "premium."

Harrison didn't divulge any pricing details for the new Xbox Live, but did say that Xbox Live subscribers on Xbox 360 could use their subs for Xbox One.

And what of online multiplayer, which has always required a paid Xbox Live subscription on Xbox 360 even though online multiplayer is free on rival Sony and Nintendo platforms? "We will announce exactly all the features of Xbox Live at a later date," Harrison said.