Microsoft is planning to make Xbox Live available for Android, Apple iOS, and Nintendo Switch. Thanks to an overly descriptive tease for a session at GDC 2019, (that’s since been edited to be much less revealing) we now know that Microsoft is ready to start talking about this vision of the future.
Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.
While there has been some work on this front already, this would seem to go much farther than just signing into your Xbox Live profile in Minecraft on the Switch or Android platforms. The session description implies they are looking to allow non-Xbox games to use Xbox Live features, for example, giving players Xbox achievements in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Interestingly, PlayStation is not mentioned in the panel text. The lack of a PlayStation call out shouldn’t be surprising considering the intense rivalry between Sony and Microsoft in the gaming space.
Listen up gamers! Microsoft is going to release close to a million defunct gamertags and make them available for Xbox Live members’ use. That means you’ll be able to get away from the horrid nickname you chose in a fit of annoyance while trying to blast through the account creation process back when you got your first Xbox. I’m looking at you JoosyFroot911. You too, xXxPWN_DOGxXx. You’re not kids now. It’s time to grow up and grab one of these gamertags recycled from the original Xbox era. Hang it up, KirbyLuvsMario. No one’s buying what you’re selling. Although Microsoft won’t release a list ahead of the May 18th release date, the names come from categories like “Types of Food” and “Some of the greatest inventions of all time.” Time to see if LordSpeculum or Corndog_Millionaire are up for grabs.
The Xbox Live Indie Games program is wrapping up. In messages sent to members of the XBLIG on Xbox 360 group, Microsoft revealed that the mostly peer-curated publishing initiative was being retired in favor of the newer [email protected] on Xbox One program. New memberships and subscriptions to XBLIG will no longer be approved, but current members will be allowed to submit their work until September 2016, at which point Microsoft will stop accepting games for sale. In September 2017, the store itself will be closed. All you developers need to get cracking on your Minecraft-with-360-avatars games if you want to take advantage of that grace period!
The XBLIG program gave us popular hits like CastleMinerZ, One Finger Death Punch, DLC Quest, and Baby Maker Extreme. Thankfully, Steam now offers many of these XBLIG games as early access titles.
Allen Murray, co-founder of AtomJack, has been working in video games for ten years. During that time, he worked on Plants vs. Zombies 2, multiple Halo games, Marathon: Durandal, and helped make the Xbox Live Arcade ecosystem. Part of that early work on Xbox included the bane of gamers – advertising. In fact, as Murray recollects, he’s the main guy responsible for those dreaded banner ads on your console home screen. His tale begins with his innocent suggestion to Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb that there should be a way for the team to promote Arcade content to gamers.
“Wait, banner ads? Like on websites?”
“Sort of, but these aren’t like ads for Mt. Dew or anything, these are just…”
“Gamers are gonna hate ads. No way.”
Despite the initial thumbs down from Major Nelson, Murray felt they really needed a way to highlight game releases on the Xbox 360. Through persistence, Murray was able to get the Banner of the Day concept off the ground. Ten short years later, and the Xbox interface is a bewildering chock-a-block of advertising! Let this be a lesson to do-gooders. The road to Hell and all that.
Edward Snowden’s classified document leaks continue to show that gaming is a growing target of intelligence surveillance. In the latest batch of documents, it was revealed that the United States National Security Agency and the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters have monitored Xbox Live interactions, sent virtual undercover agents to infiltrate World of Warcraft and Second Life, and made a “vigorous effort” to exploit gaming data.
The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”.
Games, the analyst wrote, “are an opportunity!”. According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a “deconfliction” group was required to ensure they weren’t spying on, or interfering with, each other.
Blizzard denied that they worked with the surveillance agencies in the documents to monitor their games and said that any spying was done without their permission. Both Microsoft and Second Life’s Linden Lab declined to comment.
To the agent that monitored my Live chat on September 12th of last year: I was totally kidding buddy!