Who says gamers are anti-social? Microsoft is bucking the stereotype with more social features coming to Xbox.com within the week.
In preparation for the new Xbox 360 updates coming through Xbox Live, Microsoft is updating its Xbox.com Web site with more social features and a cleaner design. Most of the new features will come with the Social page the company is preparing to launch, which will replace the My Xbox tab. The new page will make it easier to see what games users' friends have been playing, as well as their own recent gaming history.
The best new feature is the ability to set Beacons for different games. The system lets gamers mark a specific game they would be interested in playing with friends, along with a message to go with the Beacon. Say someone wanted to get a session of Gears of War 3 going. They would just have to set the Beacon, and say tonight at 10, or death match.
The Beacon system is pretty nifty, but it won't be on consoles just yet, somewhat limiting its potential. For now it will only appear on the Xbox.com Web site and on Windows Phones. The new system will hit Xbox 360 consoles in a system update later this season.
There will be a few other minor changes to the Xbox.com site, and most of them are cosmetic. Microsoft is revamping the messaging capabilities of the site, as well as making it easier to see friend profiles. The overall style of the site will be more tile oriented, which will be reflected in the Xbox update too. The tile style will make it easier for Kinect owners to navigate through the Xbox 360. The Kinect is a peripheral that uses a camera to track gamers' movements, thus translating them into game controls.
The other mentionable change coming to Xbox.com is the ability to surf the Zune video catalog while on the site. Users can buy movies and TV from the browser, and they will show up on the Xbox 360 Zune channel. However, gamers will not be able to watch the media through Xbox.com, only on the console.
The new changes should take place in just a few days.