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.
The full show will be available later in the day for viewing via video on demand on Xbox.com and Xbox LIVE.
PLUS That Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I’ll be hosting a live one-hour show from the show each day. During each hour we’ll take a closer look at some of the announcements, interviews with developers, gameplay and more.
We roll out new entertainment experiences on Xbox LIVE on a weekly basis all over the globe, bringing you movies, television, sports and music week after week and offering something for everyone in the family. But this week, we’re going back to our roots and highlighting experiences for our core Xbox gamers.
We launched Machinima a few weeks ago—our first app to launch in all 41 Xbox LIVE markets—and the download rate has been overwhelming. In fact, after only two weeks on Xbox LIVE, it’s already one of the fastest adopted Xbox Live entertainment apps of the last 12 months.
A few key features integrated in the Machinima app include:
Easy access to the latest videos and content in the Machinima Network
Easy access to Machinima’s library of original programming
Facebook Integration that allows users to connect to the app and their social profile to view content
Exclusive content only available on Xbox 360
Download the Machinima app and join some of the top brands in the gaming industry that are available on Xbox—including Twitch, IGN, GameSpot, CNET, Revision3 and GameTrailers and more.
Today, we’re launching one of the most asked for apps on Xbox LIVE: Twitch.
Twitch is one of the largest platforms for the live streaming of games, with more than 800,000 people streaming gameplay and over 34 million people watching online at Twitch.tv. And now, with the Twitch for Xbox LIVE app, Gold subscribers in the U.S. will have access to 300 of the most popular streams from the service. Users can view top channels by popularity or individual game and the dashboard features curated channels, tournaments and shows happening now.
In addition to launching the app today on Xbox 360, Twitch will also host an exclusive broadcast following the May 21st #XboxRevealed event next week. I’ll moderate the broadcast live at 3p ET/12m PT live via the new Twitch app on Xbox 360 and also online at www.twitch.tv.
Check out the app today by downloading it from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and tune in next Tuesday for the live broadcast.
What do Alice Cooper, Metallica, LeBron James, and “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” have in common? They’re all coming to Xbox! Between Machinima launching in every Xbox LIVE market around the world, the inspirational animated series “The LeBrons: Season 2” launching on Xbox Video, and the Revolver Golden Gods Awards show streaming live via our Events Player, there are some really cool new things to check out this week. Additionally, if you’re a fan of electronic dance music (or EDM as it’s more commonly known) you’ll enjoy new details about our partnership with OneBeat Labs.
Machinima (All Xbox LIVE Markets) Today, the No. 1 entertainment destination on YouTube, Machinima, comes to Xbox 360* across all Xbox LIVE markets. The first app to launch worldwide on Xbox, Machinima gives you an easy, all-access pass to watch episodic narrative series like the extremely successful “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” and “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”, live streams, gameplay videos, and original content, including weekly and daily shows such as fan favorites “Sanity Not Included” and “How to Annoy People.” As the top global online video destination for young males, you won’t want to miss downloading the Machinima app and getting instant access to all of your favorite Machinima channels, including the main “Machinima” channel, which is one of the largest YouTube channels, “Machinima Realm” focusing on fantasy and role-playing games, and “Machinima VS“ covering the world of competitive gaming, just to name a few. Machinima speaks directly to the gaming audience and beyond, providing a destination to watch your favorite content in the comfort of your living room, or any location you choose. With Machinima on Xbox, you can also share videos directly from the app to Facebook. Check it out and download from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace now.
Golden Gods Awards Show Live on Xbox LIVE (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, German, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom)
The 5th annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards Show in Los Angeles is back with some of the biggest names in hard rock and heavy metal. Planning to tune in and turn up the volume? You’re in luck. Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers around the world** will be able to stream and rock out to the show live right from their Xbox 360 this Thursday, May 2. Watch heavy metal favorites Metallica, Halestorm, Stone Sour and more perform live. See Rob Zombie receive the award that embodies the spirit of hard rock and metal, the Golden God Award and Metallica receive the iconic Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award. The show starts at 8 p.m. PDT. You can also watch the “Black Carpet” pre-show special starting at 7 p.m. PDT and catch glimpses of legends like Gene Simmons, Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper.
By tuning into the Golden Gods Awards Show on Xbox LIVE, you will have access to unique second-screen Xbox SmartGlass experiences where you can:
Check out the award nominees in categories like “Best Drummer,” “Comeback of the Year” and “Most Metal Athlete”
Participate in online polling during the show
Learn more info on winners as they’re announced live
Watch backstage interviews with artists on your tablet or smart phone while live performances are blasting from your TV
Discover additional information on presenters, like Fozzy frontman and WWE pro-wrestling legend Chris Jericho and others
The Xbox LIVE stream will also run a dedicated Twitter feed across the screen using the hash tag #XboxGoldenGods so that the Xbox community can make its voice heard and weigh in on all the action in real time. The “Black Carpet” kicks off at 10p ET/7 p PT on Thursday.
The LeBrons Season Two (United States) The hit animated web series “The LeBrons” is back with season two, and will be exclusively available on Xbox 360 in the U.S. via Xbox Video starting Friday, May 10th. Watch new episodes each week and a handful of trailers through August 31st, and listen to the original music soundtracks for seasons 1 & 2, all found in the dedicated “The LeBrons” hub located in the TV & Video section of the dashboard. “The LeBrons” is a family entertainment show that provides positive life messages to today’s young adults and is co-executive produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter and Believe Entertainment Group Co-Founders Dan Goodman and William H. Masterson III. In the meantime, here’s the latest trailer of Season 2 of “The LeBrons.” Check back next Friday for the first episode.
We’re working with our friends at OneBeat to bring one of richest cultural experiences today exclusively to Xbox—Electronic Dance Music (EDM). We’ll have more details to share next month, but know that we we’ll soon be launching the OneBeat app for Xbox 360 which will bring some of the richest, and most integrated, interactive entertainment experiences from the Global EDM Industry right into your living room. The OneBeat app is a one-stop shop and portal for EDM artists and fans and will connect fans by enabling content sharing across Facebook. At launch, you can check out the calendar of events, artist information, event details and even ticket sales.
*Xbox LIVE Gold subscription and/or additional subscriptions/fees may be required and sold separately. Kinect functionality available with select Xbox LIVE content and varies by feature and country. For additional details and availability, see http://www.xbox.com/live.
**Golden Gods will be available to Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers in the Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, German, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United States, United Kingdom
On Tuesday May 21st, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment. On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox LIVE and Xbox.com. If you are in the US or Canada, you can also watch the broadcast on Spike TV.
On that day, we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future. Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.
We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.
Today, The CW app on Xbox 360 connects you with your favorite CW shows, from full episodes to previews and interviews, and is unique in that it will offer next-day episodes free with your Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, no cable subscription or membership required.* Tune in to watch your favorites like “The Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural,” “Arrow” and “Beauty & the Beast.”
In addition, The CW is taking advantage of the second-screen opportunities offered by Xbox SmartGlass to create a content-rich, interactive and integrated experience that will bring “The Vampire Diaries” to fans in an entirely new way. As viewers tune into The CW app on Xbox this Friday for the latest episode titled “The Originals,” they can access an exclusive Xbox SmartGlass experience that will provide exciting new content via their smartphone or tablet not available to any other viewers. Experiences and content that can only be discovered using the Xbox SmartGlass experience includes:
A map that follows the characters through town, revealing events throughout the town’s history
Biographies of each character
Legends and lore of New Orleans and the world of “The Vampire Diaries”
There will also be a giveaway via Facebook for custom “Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural” Xbox 360 consoles, so download The CW app from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace today and be sure to check out “The Originals” episode this week!
*Xbox LIVE Gold subscription and/or additional subscriptions/fees may be required and sold separately. For additional details and availability, see http://www.xbox.com/live.
Check out the latest apps launching this week on Xbox LIVE and the details behind this weekend’s Gold unlock for some of our sports apps.
Xbox LIVE Gold Unlocked for Select Sports Apps (United States, Canada) It’s that time of year when sports on TV is at a yearly high and this weekend, we’re really excited that several popular sports apps will be unlocked from Gold from April 25 – 28 for Xbox LIVE subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. More details below.
ESPN: Start the weekend with full live coverage and highlights of the NFL Draft and sports around the world on ESPN.**
MLB.TV: Watch over 50 free MLB games with MLB.TV and personalize the experience by selecting your favorite teams. No MLB.TV subscription required!
UFC: Gear up for the big UFC 159 PPV matchup of Jones vs. Sonnen by watching all 7 fight stories for free.**
NHL GameCenter: Enjoy highlights, recaps, and clips from the best of the NHL as teams jockey for position leading into the NHL Playoffs.**
NBA Game Time: Enjoy highlights and recaps of first round coverage of the NBA Playoffs throughout the weekend.**
If you already have a subscription to any of these sports packages, this weekend is the perfect time to try it out on your Xbox. Love NHL GameCenter but can’t stand watching it on a tiny computer screen? Now’s the time to check it out on the big screen. Want to take your NBA fandom to the next level? Try it on Xbox and with SmartGlass on your phone or tablet for the second screen experience you’ve been missing.
Pizza Hut (United States)
Pizza Hut is launching the first-of-a-kind ordering app, allowing Xbox LIVE members in the U.S. to purchase pizza, wings, pasta and more from Xbox 360. The full menu, including new products, can be ordered from the Xbox LIVE dashboard and operated using an Xbox 360 controller or hand gestures and voices commands via Kinect for Xbox 360. Hungry? Customers who download and place an order through the Pizza Hut app by May 6 will receive 15 percent off their purchase.
Here’s how it works:
Set up an account: Download the Pizza Hut app via the Xbox LIVE Marketplace
Browse full menu: Cruise through the complete list of menu offerings to score delicious pizza, pasta and wings from your local Pizza Hut
Get local deals: Offers in your area pop up on the home screen for great deals on all your Pizza Hut favorites
Build custom pizzas: Scroll through the app to build a customized pizza
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada (Canada)
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada keeps you connected to the game you love with Xbox.* Watch live games and stay up-to-date with special in-game features designed especially for you. We’ve got you covered even if you miss a game with near instant 3-minute highlight packs after the game and a Weekly Top 5 that helps you talk about the great save, amazing goal or hard-hitting action. CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada on Xbox is a new way to enjoy the traditional game.
Hulu PLUS Update (United States, Japan)
Hulu Plus* becomes more kid friendly with a new discovery experience for kids. In addition to “Shows You Watch” and “Most Popular” categories, parents can search movies and TV shows by age group. Also check out the three new “Twists” for Kids, Latino and Trailers with improved discovery and content.
*Xbox LIVE Gold subscription and/or additional subscriptions/fees may be required and sold separately. For additional details and availability, see http://www.xbox.com/live.
**Additional cable or service subscription required.
Earlier this week, it was announced that your Microsoft Account Gets More Secure. Every gamertag on Xbox LIVE is backed by a Microsoft Account (MSA), so this is great news for our customers who choose to enable this security feature to help keep their accounts more secure. I’m excited to see this feature enabled and I’ve already done this on my own account.
For those of you who have enabled TFA, you’ll need to make one change to how you interact with your Xbox.
If you’re downloading your profile or you choose not to have your password saved on your console, you will be prompted to enter your “Microsoft account password.” It will look like the screenshot below. Instead of entering your MSA password, you’ll need to enter an App password.