Microsoft is owning E3 this week, but lost in all the understandable hoopla around the new Xbox One consoles is a set of coming improvements to Xbox Live that are in many ways just as important.
Here’s a quick rundown.
Xbox Play Anywhere. This new program lets gamers buy a digital game once and play it on both Windows 10 and Xbox One, with shared progress, game saves and achievements. Every new Microsoft Studios title shown at E3 2016—including Gears of War 4—will support Xbox Play Anywhere, and Microsoft promises more titles are on the way.
Clubs. In the fall, Microsoft will roll out a new Xbox Live feature called Clubs that will let its users create private and persistent virtual communities with members and moderators, group chat, filter capabilities, and more. “Clubs is sort of our version of guilds and clans in MMOs,” Xbox director of program management Mike Ybarra says.
Looking for Group. A sort of bulletin board service, Looking for Group will help gamers find similar and qualified players with which to compete.
Arena. This new online tournaments platform is designed for all skill levels and brings competitive gaming to the service, with prizes and bragging rights, Microsoft says. It will work on both Xbox One and Windows 10.
Cross-play. We’ve discussed this one a lot, of course, but Microsoft will allow Xbox One and Windows 10 gamers play select multiplayer games—Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves and Scalebound, to start—together. Also new: Minecraft players on Android, iOS, and Windows 10 devices (including phones) can all join together in cross-device multiplayer as well.
Language Region Independence. This one is big, and a long time coming: Microsoft will enable Language Region Independence, giving gamers the ability to choose any supported language on Xbox One, regardless of their location.
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