Microsoft Demos the new Xbox Live

Our first demo with the new Xbox Live takes place while playing through a game. During the game, we receive a Friend Invite from Striker. Please excuse the poor quality of the picture, but you get the idea of how the invite will pop on the screen:

Note that the icon indicates (using the green quadrant) which controller the invite is for.

After hitting the 360 button, you are brought to the Friend Invite screen:

Although it isn't clear from this picture, your game can still be playing in the background. Developers can choose whether or not to pause your game automatically when this happens.

From the Friend Invite screen, you can accept the invitation, decline, reply, block, play any messages or view the person's on-line profile. A particularly interesting element of this screen is the user's Gamercard at the top right of the screen:

The Gamercard (pictured above and below) features three important pieces of information. The first item is the player's reputation, measured in stars. After the completion of every Xbox 360 Live game round, you can give the folks who you played with/against a reputation score - basically, a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The reputation score is supposed to reflect whether the person was a good person to play with (e.g. helpful, team player, polite, etc.) or a bad person to play with (e.g. rude, vulgar, rocket launcher hog, etc.). Over time, your reputation should reflect what sort of player you are and you'll be able to match up with players based on reputation as well as other factors.

The next item on your Gamercard is your Gamerscore (GS for short); the Gamerscore is a counter of all achievements across all games that you've played (online and offline). Beating levels in Halo 2 single player, completing races in Project Gotham Racing 3 or winning online matches will all contribute to your Gamerscore.

The final item is your Zone. Currently in Xbox Live, you are matched up against players that are all members of one large pool. While that was a good idea when Live started off, now with over 1.5 million subscribers, such a broad match making system can be a bit painful at times. The problem is that you have casual gamers paired up with very competitive players, which isn't always the best idea.

Now, you'll be able to select the Zone in which you'd like to play. The Zone will determine what sort of players you are matched up with, whether it is Family players (e.g. members with kids online where you should watch your mouth), competitive players, or a zone where anything goes. You can change your Zone before any match depending on your fancy. We are a fan of the idea, but we do wonder how Microsoft will ensure that the Zones remain true to their function (e.g. what will keep vulgar folks from corrupting the innocent minds of children playing in the Family zone?).

You'll also notice the avatar on your Gamercard - you can either download an avatar, or take one with the Xbox 360 camera and upload it yourself.

Now back to playing your game. If you are playing a game, you can also initiate an invite by hitting the 360 button. Just as before, the game will continue to play in the background (whether paused or not is determined by the developer depending on the nature of the title):

Removable Hard Drive and Console Footprint Messaging in Xbox Live - No Email, No Spam
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  • milomnderbnder21 - Sunday, May 22, 2005 - link

    There's a link, as proof I guess...
  • milomnderbnder21 - Sunday, May 22, 2005 - link

    That critique/comparison is actually straight from Microsoft, some department or something. It was posted recently on IGN360, they said it was emailed to them or something from Microsoft.

    Obviously, that makes it biased, but there's no denying that it brings up a couple of interesting points. I would expect the PS3 to be more powerful though. The article underestimates the Cell.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Sunday, May 22, 2005 - link


    It was real, not running at full speed, but the only working 360 shown to the public at E3.

    Take care,
  • golemite - Saturday, May 21, 2005 - link

    so was the 360 at the ATI booth an actual prototype or not? from what i was told, it was one of the first working test units.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, May 21, 2005 - link


    I don't get the impression that Nintendo will be able to compete, specification-wise, with Microsoft and Sony. That doesn't mean that their console won't be competitive because, after all, it is the games that matter. But without strongly competitive specs, it wouldn't make sense for Nintendo to reveal anything at E3 from a PR standpoint.


    I'm not one to critique other peoples' work, but there are a number of factual errors presented in that link.

    Remember that the Xbox 360's 256GB/s of bandwidth is a figure for on-die bandwidth between the 192 FPUs and the embedded DRAM on the daughter die. Including that figure in a system bandwidth comparison is like me telling you how much bandwidth exists between the Pentium 4's Trace Cache and its Decoder and then comparing that to the Athlon 64's main memory bandwidth. It's not a valid comparison.

    Comparing the number of general purpose cores between the two CPUs (cell and xbox 360) and using that as a benchmark is also a highly invalid comparison. If I published an article where I said that the dual core Pentium D 840 offered twice the general purpose performance as a single core Athlon 64 4000+...well, you guys wouldn't buy that would you :) So why would that sort of a comparison work for the PS3 vs. Xbox 360?

    I wouldn't put much faith in those types of claims, if you go back and read any of our articles about CPU architecture (including the Cell article) you will realize that a number of these types of claims are quite easily debunked.

    As I mentioned before, I'm not one to criticize other peoples' work, but if you have any specific questions about whether or not a particular claim is true (or makes sense) ask it and I'll do my best to answer it.

    Take care,
  • Staples - Saturday, May 21, 2005 - link

    Very neat. Seems like the PS3 is almost a faster PS2 and that is about all. MS certainly has the upperhand as far as interface goes.
  • barnett25 - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    Anand: I'd like to see what you have to say about the PS3, Xbox comparison at
  • flatblastard - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    Anand #19

    I do appreciate your effort in at least making an attempt to get into the press conference. How did it go...."Fink? We've never heard of you." I guess the old saying that, It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know, is still true. The big N has a history of doing this, so I'm not really surprised. I guess I was just expecting more from our great reviewer but if there was nothing to report, then there's nothing to report. duh
  • tfranzese - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    #24, sorry if you don't like me actually looking forward to the big N's next console. I actually enjoy my Gamecube along side my Xbox, so I will probably be buying two consoles again.

    As long as Nintendo makes their 1st party titles, that's enough reason for me to buy their system. I don't buy it so I can play EA's 20th rendition of Madden, Live, NFS, or any other 3rd party title. I'll have an Xbox for that junk. I've been more than satisfied with the quality and quantity of titles Nintendo has put on the Gamecube, and I have more to look forward to.
  • shaw - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    #20 Look at how much nostalgia helps Sega. :p

    People used to think the world was flat once, get over it, move on.

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