While we don’t have all of the details on the new Xbox Live features announced at today’s Xbox One launch, it’s clear that Microsoft is going all-in when it comes to social and multiplayer gaming. First, they are upping the number of dedicated servers for online play from 15,000 to 300,000 and nearly all of your content and game data will be store in the cloud.
The service will also allow you to take in-game video and photos and share them over social media services. This is similar to Sony’s PS4 solution and is definitely a method allow users to create valuable and viral homemade content while still maintaining control of distribution. As games become more social and more cinematic, this will be an important differentiator and is essentially free advertising for game makers.
Finally, the new service adds asynchronous matchmaking, which means you can be searching for potential teammates (or enemies) while watching TV or playing another game. This increases the stickiness of multiplayer titles by nudging you back into the game when a worth opponent appears. Microsoft has also added “bigger matches with more players” and, most important, “living and persistent worlds.” This sounds to me like a direct attack on MMORPGs like World Of Warcraft and could make the Xbox a formidable force in the popular professional gaming subculture, a niche no console maker has yet cracked.
We should see further information about the Xbox One at E3 this summer.