Today, we’re announcing the release of the Fall (or Spring depending on where you are from) 2013 Xbox Live Update for Xbox 360. It brings several features for Xbox Live members, chief among them the ability to buy content on Xbox 360 using local currency.
What do you need to do to get this update? The next time you log into Xbox Live, you will automatically be prompted to start the download. After that, when you go to initiate a purchase or redeem a Microsoft Points card through your Xbox 360, we’ll add to your Microsoft account an amount of currency equal to or greater than the Xbox Marketplace value of your Microsoft Points. We’ll also continue to accept purchased Microsoft Points Cards and codes until further notice. It’s that easy.
We are excited to announce the Upload Outreach Program, an effort to attract creative minds from around the world to become a major part of the Upload experience. Selected users will receive a brand new Xbox One, a 1- year Xbox Live Gold membership and a selection of launch titles *, and will have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the Upload team to see their content show up within the Upload experience.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE:
Create a 1 minute video about any Xbox 360 or Xbox One game you love
Upload it to the web so we can see it (use Youtube, Vimeo, or any public website we can access)
Fans of Season Passes now have another reason to look forward to Xbox One with the Season Pass Guarantee program. With Season Pass Guarantee, you can purchase a Season Pass for a participating Xbox 360 title and automatically receive access to download the equivalent Xbox One Season Pass.* It’s simple.
Some of the biggest publishers, including Activision, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, are lined up for the Season Pass Guarantee program, offering season pass content you can’t find anywhere else for blockbuster titles in 2013 and 2014. You’ll be able access exclusive season pass content on anticipated titles like “Call of Duty: Ghosts” and “Battlefield 4” on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Season Pass Guarantee makes transitioning from Xbox 360 to Xbox One an easier and smoother process, so you don’t have to worry about which console you’re playing games on or repurchasing your existing add-ons on Xbox One.
Stay tuned as publishers and titles participating in the Season Pass program are announced in the coming months.
*Xbox Live members must own the same game on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One in order to receive Season Pass Guarantee benefits.
More information about the change from Microsoft Points to local currency that we announced at E3:
Earlier this year, we announced that we are bringing local currency to Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles. This change was a direct result of customer feedback. You told us you want to be able to buy things using money instead of points, and we listened.
Our goal is to make this transition as easy as possible for you. After the next Xbox 360 system update, when you go to buy something or redeem a Microsoft Points card or code with your Microsoft account, we’ll add to your account an amount of currency equal to or greater than the Xbox Marketplace value of your Microsoft Points, which will be retired.
Making a purchase will be faster and easier than ever. You will see item prices expressed in local currency; no need to calculate what an item costs! You will still be able to directly purchase content from Xbox stores using any current form of payment available in your region, including credit cards. And starting in late 2013, you’ll also be able to buy new Xbox Gift Cards (denominated in your local currency) through our online retailers and in local retail stores. These gift cards can be added to your Microsoft account online and are another easy-to-use payment option for customers.
Don’t worry about your Microsoft Points Cards either. We’ll continue to accept purchased Microsoft Points Cards and codes until further notice, and we’ll add to your account an amount of local currency equal to or greater than the Marketplace value of those points. In addition, we know you’ve worked hard on your Microsoft Points earned through Xbox Live Rewards. These will remain in your Xbox Live account and transition to local currency with the rest of your Microsoft Points.
Today Marc Whitten has posted details on how Xbox One will expand how you share your games and outlines some of the benefits that Gold members will be getting at no additional cost.
Here are the highlights:
Sharing Digital Games Everyone in your home can share digital games with each other. Your Xbox One can become your virtual game library filled with digital games that different people in the home bought. Anyone can pick any digital game on your Xbox One, sign in with their own gamertag and play – even if the owner is not signed in. Like physical media, you can also play many digitally downloaded games without being online, although experiences will be best when connected to the internet and Xbox Live. Finally, when you purchase a digital game, you can start playing even before the entire game downloads.
Because your digital games go with you, you can also use and share digital games when you sign in to another console. And, if you happen to buy a digital game when you are signed in on your friend’s console, your game will also be available on your Home Xbox One console for anyone to use.
Sharing digital games is a great feature of Xbox One, and we’re also making it possible for Xbox Live Gold members to share some of the best benefits of Gold.
Sharing Xbox Live Gold benefits At E3 this year, we briefly highlighted a new benefit we’re bringing to Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One. We’re calling it Home Gold. It will enable any Xbox Live Gold member on Xbox One to extend many Gold features to others at no additional cost. One Xbox Live Gold account delivering great benefits to everyone in the home.
Here’s how Xbox Live Gold members can extend Gold benefits including multiplayer gaming, Game DVR, SmartMatch and access to entertainment apps and experiences, including The NFL on Xbox, Skype, Internet Explorer:
At home. You can set up your console at home so that anyone who uses that console will enjoy multiplayer gaming and access to entertainment apps – even if you are not home or logged in.
On the go. You can log in at a friend’s house and everyone there can enjoy multiplayer gaming and access to entertainment apps while you are logged in.
At Home with Xbox One If you’re an Xbox Live Gold member, an unlimited number of people can enjoy many benefits of Xbox Live Gold while they are using your Home Xbox One console. Friends and family will simply create their own account and gamertag and be able to enjoy Xbox Live online multiplayer gaming and access to entertainment apps.
Friends coming over to play? No problem. They can log in with their own gamertag and play online multiplayer. Even if you sign off, your friends and family can enjoy multiplayer gaming while they are playing on your Home Xbox One console.
At a Friend’s House with Xbox One On Xbox One if you are an Xbox Live Gold member, you will be able to go to a friend’s house and play co-op multiplayer– even if your friend is not a Gold subscriber. Once you log in with your Xbox Live Gold account, everyone using that console can access multiplayer and entertainment apps for as long as you are logged in.
At Home with Xbox 360 and Xbox One If you are an Xbox Live Gold member today, you are already set for Xbox One. Your Xbox Live Gold membership for Xbox 360 will seamlessly become an Xbox Live Gold account on your Xbox One and you will be able to enjoy Xbox Live Gold features on either console. You can even be logged in to Xbox 360 and Xbox One at the same time. Home Gold benefits are exclusively for Xbox One.
What Home Gold Means for the Xbox One Experience With Xbox One everyone in your home has a personalized account, which will enable powerful and personal experiences, and that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to create Home Gold. It means that your account and your gamertag are truly yours. You don’t have to share your gamertag for multiplayer gaming with others in your home, or see recommendations for your kid’s cartoons next to the recommended first-person shooter for you. It also means that you can introduce new games and enjoy multiplayer with friends while they are at your house. Last but not least, it also means that when you buy one Xbox Live Gold membership, multiple people can enjoy the best benefits of Xbox Live Gold on your Xbox One at no additional charge.
Saints Row IV Inauguration Station Price: Free Check availability in your Xbox LIVE region Description: Upload characters created or modified in the "Inauguration Station" to play with them in Saints Row IV. Tip: You can download your Saints Row: The Third characters to update them for Saints Row IV. Browse an online gallery to view thousands of shared community characters.
Have you wondered what it would be like to work in one of the coolest jobs on the West coast? Actually, two of the coolest jobs on the West Coast that have just opened up as full-time positions on my team. (One and Two) This is a rare and unique opportunity to join me, Major Nelson, and the Xbox Community team as we blaze new trails and I want you on this team!
Interested? Read the official job descriptions here and here. If you’ve held these reins before, and one of these roles scream you, APPLY NOW via the MSFT Careers Page.
Knock us out. Show us your innovation. Show us why you are different.
Update: As of today, August 23rd the chance to apply is now closed. Good luck to everyone.
Update: We’ve had an overwhelming demand for participation, and have closed registration. If we re-open registration, I’ll let you know. Update 2: As of 9, July we have started rolling out the beta.Update 3 [July 10, 9PM Pacific]:Japan signup is now available. Beta registration remains closed in many countries but we’ve opened additional spots in Greece, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Turkey, and UAE. Remember that signup is now accessed directly through your Xbox 360 console to streamline the experience. Once the spots fill in these 7 countries, signups will be closed to the public.
Update: As of 12, July the program is now closed in all regions. Thanks for your interest and participation!
We’re inviting Xbox Live members worldwide to participate in the 2013 Xbox Live Update for Xbox 360 Public Beta.* It will include updates to improve overall performance and the ability to conduct transactions with local currency, as Microsoft Points will be retired later this year.
Unlike our previous beta programs, sign up is now accessed directly through your Xbox 360 console to streamline the experience. Space is limited, so once the spots are filled the beta will be closed to the public.
To join, look for the Xbox Beta Program tile on the home hub of the Xbox Dashboard.
Our open public betas allow you to help make Xbox even better.
We appreciate your feedback and thank you for participating!
* Xbox Live members in any of our 41 Xbox Live-enabled markets will be able to participate in the public beta for Xbox 360. Please note that members in Japan will have an opportunity to join at a later date. I’ll update this post when we open it for Japan, and additional information about the program as it progresses.
Last week, Microsoft launched the Windows 8.1 Release Preview, including some new updates for the Xbox entertainment apps on Windows. Here’s a quick look at some of the changes in the Xbox Entertainment apps in the preview:
Improvements to Search: Search from directly within the Xbox Games app using the new Search bar, access game extras in search results and view your achievements by date.
User Interface Updates: Browse your friends list or receive content notifications in easy-to-view tiles, and use Snap to access other apps while gaming.
Streamlined Search: Through new and improved Windows search, access everything from your local drive to the web with the power of Bing, and easily find content from within the Xbox Video app.
Continuous Engagement: Continue to download your video, while you use other apps on your Windows 8 device. Or seamlessly snap other apps onto your screen while you watch, including in portrait mode.
More Content: Save your movies and TV shows to an SD memory card and use Play To for streaming user-generated content
We shared last week that the new Xbox Music experience on Windows 8.1 is entirely redesigned from the ground up while still offering free streaming music.
Updates available now through the Windows 8.1 Release Preview include:
Faster, Easier Search: Access your favorite songs, artists and albums faster with an in-app Search bar, also made easier through Windows search powered by Bing.
Improved Collection Management: Simple access to your music starts in the “Collection,” where the music you’ve saved in the Xbox Music cloud and your local music will be at the forefront of the app.
Streaming Radio Stations: Radio offers seamless creation of new streaming Internet-radio stations based on artists you like and will give you faster access to your favorite Radio stations that you’ve already created.
Later this year, be sure to check out the full launch of Windows 8.1 that will offer even more updates for Xbox Music and Xbox Video. With the launch of Xbox One, we’ll also be introducing an updated version of Xbox SmartGlass, making games and TV more interactive and immersive with new companion experiences on your smartphone, tablet and PC.
David Dreger (known by many as his Gamertag Knuckles Dawson) went missing last month. Tonight his family confirmed that his body has been found.
I first learned of David right after the Xbox 360 launch when he set his personal goal of getting an Xbox 360 achievement every single day. I was impressed with his passion and commitment and I had the pleasure of having him as a guest on my podcast when I met him at PAX in 2006 to discuss his daily quest. You can listen to the interview I did with him here. It begins approximately 59 minutes in.
David went on to write for Xbox 360 Fanboy (which was a subset of Joystiq). He then went on to work with the great folks over at Achievement Hunter. I always enjoyed seeing David at industry events, and I along with my colleagues send thoughts and prayers to his family.
Earlier today I chatted with Chad Gibson, Principle Group Program manager for Xbox Live Gaming features and Mike Lavin, Sr. Global Product Marketing manager for Xbox Live on our live E3 broadcast. They outlined how the new Smart Match feature works on Xbox Live. Last week, before E3, I had a long conversation with Micheal Dunn from our team who leads the development on the new Smart Match system. I asked him to sum up what his team is putting together for all of us
I’m Micheal Dunn, Program Manager on Xbox Live Services. I love how console games and especially co-op games bring people together to “spend quality time.” It’s great to play with friends and family online, but it’s fun sometimes to try a new “bar” so to speak and meet new people to play with online. I’ve met people from all over the world while playing on Xbox Live.
We all have better things to do than wait for people to show up to play a game. It would be great if I could start up the flight sim game, see if anyone is online to play, put in my play request and then switch to something else while I wait for people to show up. That is what Smart Match on Xbox One allows people to do. It makes it easy for a title to create a match request and then “untether” me so I don’t need wait in the title while the match search is processing. I can switch to reading a quick social blog or watch a viral video and when the match is ready Xbox One tells me to pull me back into the title to play.
The new Smart Match service allows titles to change their match model from traditional peer-based host searching for players typical in Xbox 360 to now completely untethered cloud-based. The example I gave was for a low population title like a flight sim game, but there are also great results for the more popular shooter and sports titles too.
You will be able to launch a popular shooter or sports title and see the “typical wait time” for different online game modes. For example, imagine a match area for a quick match] that might have a wait time of 1 minute, and then another match area in the title for “match by downloadable content (DLC)” with typical wait time of 7 minutes. Chances are you’d never wait in a game for 7 minutes to play online, you’d just make do with “quick match” and lowest common denominator DLC. With Xbox One titles, you can instead pick the longer “match by DLC” option if you please, see it might take 7 minutes to find a match that night, and switch to another task while Smart Match in the cloud is searching for you. You end up with a much more enjoyable match result since you get to play with people with similar DLC versus just the lowest common denominator levels in the base title. You get to make the most use the latest map or car you just bought to keep the game play fresh and interesting, versus just going into quick match with the same options every night.
With Beacons in Xbox 360 you could set a toast to tell other friends of your desire to play a specific game online. Smart Match on Xbox One goes way beyond that to help you tap into the full player population for a title, versus just the friends you know, and means you skip waiting in a match search screen in the title. This is a true departure from consoles that don’t have a way to switch between tasks quickly. Plus over time Smart Match empowers Xbox One titles to unlock many more ways to play online without the penalty of segmenting the available pool of people each night to match with. This same pattern depending on the title can include player attributes to search for such as very specific skill or social elements like spoken language or even people of similar age. You will see lots of new play styles open up for online play as titles start to experiment more with match types, without you needing to be stuck waiting for players to show up.
With Xbox One, I’m looking forward to putting in my match request in for a super special online play style or specific DLC needed for a play mode, then kicking back and letting Xbox Live do the work to find me a good person to play with while I practice my mad skills. Here’s an example of playing Ryse and then getting a match ready toast to jump into Killer Instinct online play that was shown in Monday’s E3 presentation.
Reputation You can usually tell a family member to stop crunching on corn chips in your ear or yakking on the cell phone while they play with you. With a stranger you meet online it doesn’t always turn out that way though. Sometimes you meet someone online that decides it’s cool to hum Top 40 songs as they go through a match or sometimes meet someone that can’t seem to avoid swearing at everything that #$%^ happens to them. The majority of Xbox Live players are polite online and know how to socially adjust to the people they are playing with, but there are some bad apples you run into that just seem to like to cause trouble. With Xbox One we’ve built a new social reputation model to help expose people that aren’t fun to be around, and also create real consequences for those few bad apples that continue to harass our good players.
Sometimes it’s hard for strangers to know what “polite” means with different social norms and backgrounds, and even harder when you aren’t in the same room face to face with someone. You have few social cues to rely on, and typically a stranger sees no real reason to listen to your complaint about their behavior. We all care a lot about behavior on Xbox Live and player feedback options in Xbox One allows you to help educate those who don’t seem to follow good social gaming norms. We simplified the feedback mechanism also to be less of a “survey” and more direct feedback options, even linking things in like block or mute player actions into the feedback model.
All of the feedback from player’s online flow into the reputation service to evaluate a players online social reputation. The more hours you play online without causing others to have a horrible time the better your reputation will be, similar to the more hours your drive without an accident the better your driving record and insurance rates will be. Most players will have good reputations and be seen as “green” good players you’d enjoy playing with. Even those good players might receive a few player feedback reports each month and that is OK. Xbox Live is looking to identify players that are repeatedly disruptive on Xbox Live. We’ll identify those players with a lower reputation score and in the worse cases they will earn the “avoid me” reputation. Looking at someone’s gamer card you’ll be able to quickly see their reputation.
Smart Match sees their Xbox Live rep too and when a person’s social reputation gets low enough the service will only match those low reputation players with similar low reputation players. This gives them the benefit of playing with people just like them. Ultimately we want to help encourage good behavior between strangers. By the way, before a user ends up at this extremely low reputation level we will have sent many different alerts to the user reminding how their social gaming conduct is affecting lots of other gamers. The chart includes examples of the reputation score that will be seen in the gamercard.
This reputation system will evolve as we track the feedback we get from actual players and titles, plus add more consequences for bad apples that we want to stop #$%^ crunching on corn chips in your ear. All you need to do is block or report players that are abusive, cheat, or causing various amounts of non-fun mayhem and their social reputation will reflect that. We’ll keep the good friendly players together with other good friendly people, and keep a seat for the bad apples in their own special place. Our team and I built this for all of you and we hope you like it!
We’ve rounded up some familiar faces in the gaming industry to join me for our "Xbox @ E3" Live Coverage that will happen this week. Sign into Xbox LIVE on your console and join us Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week for a live one-hour show each day from the show floor. During each hour we’ll take a closer look at some of the announcements, interviews with developers, game play and more.