What Social Can Do For Gaming

Last week, my colleague Josh touched on the new social features Microsoft is adding to the Xbox 360 -- Facebook Connect and Twitter functionality that will allow users to broadcast their gaming activities to their friends.

As one of Josh's commenters noted, bringing Facebook onto Xbox is of limited utility. Without an easy-to-use keyboard, at least as easy as a mobile phone keyboard, for example, the main use for access to your Facebook account on Xbox Live will be to ping friends to come join you in-game, or to show off your gamer score.

But the addition of social-networking functionality could well solve a significant problem facing console multiplayer gaming -- the current matchmaking system. While usually effective at setting up games quickly and easily, it makes it very difficult to be discerning in one's choice of gaming partners. Anybody who's played Halo 3 with a group of people who use ethnic slurs like punctuation marks has had this experience.



Currently, Xbox Live is well set up to support playing with friends or playing with strangers, but there isn't a lot of gray area between those two groups.

There's no way, for example, for someone at a company to play with all his or her co-workers unless he's friends with all of them, or for a student to play with other people from his or her university. Xbox Live is good at helping you set up 1- or 2-degree social nets, but its support for groups or larger networks is practically nonexistent.

This is something that connecting with Facebok could shore up. The real value for Xbox Live to hook up with Facebook isn't in broadcasting activity. The value is this: It pulls social connections into the Xbox Live system to help people find fellow gamers they can get along with.

4 comments about "What Social Can Do For Gaming ".
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  1. Josh Lovison from Josh Lovison Consulting, June 19, 2009 at 5:55 p.m.

    In addition to the utility relating to match-ups, there's a ton of use for this feature well beyond "typing messages to friends," which isn't even how people necessarily use

    There's a game on the iPhone I've written about before that uses Facebook Connect to populate quiz trivia. Status updates are one of the most popular activities on Facebook, and I'm sure you can bet there will be an option to have your achievements pop up on Facebook as you get them on Xbox.

    There are also HUGE opportunities for marketers in this move, but from a consumer perspective, it's going to primarily be expanding the Xbox LIVE friend networks and pushing content back from the console to Facebook/Twitter.

  2. Joshua Dreller from Signal, June 22, 2009 at 10:54 a.m.

    Just a note...the XBOX 360 has had a qwerty keyboard plugin for the controller out for awhile.

  3. Arthur Barbato from Advertising Database, June 22, 2009 at 12:34 p.m.

    Like minds... sent invites to explore how brands are using social media and gaming in their RFPs for 2010 for my tweetes selling media to brands focused on digital social media, sports and fashion webinar today at 11am Pacific rsvp please stop by Shankar!

  4. James Lee from, June 24, 2009 at 1:05 p.m.

    Great article Shankar! Totally agree that the real value of social media, as it relates to gaming, is exactly that (pulling the social connections into XBox Live, as you so eloquently put it).

    Microsoft should really build out a cusomized interface, which would live on the XBox Live (or PSN Network), but would marry the data stored on these social apps (like FaceBook/Twitter) seamlessly into the already existing console experience. Though, I can imagine that this would be difficult to do, from a logistics standpoint.

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