Some of you may have noticed that the Xbox Live service went offline yesterday for maintenance. It was assumed that this was simply in preparation for the upcoming E3 event but a report yesterday from the Microsoft team lists some nice new features for all Xbox Live users. Here’s the gist:
"In our unending quest to give our Xbox Live members more of what they are asking for, we hereby unveil the My Xbox Message Center. Exactly what you've been requesting!
Here's the story on the coolness that is Message Center.
- All My Xbox users (Xbox Live Silver and Gold users as well as those who just signed up on Xbox.com) can now read text messages in the My Xbox Message Center. So someone can send you a message from their Xbox 360™ console and you can read it on your PC.
- Xbox Live Gold members can compose and send messages in the My Xbox Message Center. The character limit is the same as on the Xbox 360 console: 250 characters.
- Xbox Live Gold members can send messages (up to 200 per day) to gamers who are on their friends list.
- Xbox Live Gold members can send messages (up to 25 per day) to other gamers not on their friends list.
- All My Xbox users can block communications with other gamers. Designate a gamertag as blocked and you won't get any more messages from them. Change your mind? Unblock a gamer simply by sending them a message."
Microsoft seems committed to integrating our home based PC systems with every other part of our household – now when you're surfing the web on your PC you won’t miss an opportunity to play some online games with your Halo buddy in Tasmania.
The obvious benefits are going to be for the community aspect of Microsoft’s online gaming venture. With Microsoft seemingly involved in encouraging clan gaming, could this be the first small step towards promoting competitive gaming across Live?
In other Xbox live news Microsoft announced that they will be exclusively bringing their subscribers E3 content commencing from 8th May. That content will include the first ever high definition game trailer of Gears of War
, a playable demo of Capcom’s Lost-Planet: Extreme Condition
as well as an interesting ‘game with fame’ concept – multiplayer sessions with celebrities Method Man and Jenny McCarthy amongst others.
There will be a host of other demos and trailers as well as new map packs for games like Call of Duty 2
. Microsoft seems to be going all out in a bid to grab the limelight before E3 and it will be interesting to see how both Sony and Nintendo respond to this in the upcoming days.
Of course, this will also contribute to the eventual merging of Xbox Live, the friends list and Windows / MSN messenger.
So get on your Xbox and start messaging your friends – but don’t forget to drop us a line in the forums
and tell us what you think about Microsoft’s E3 bonanza and the new Message Centre service.