Looking forward to the social features of the next generation consoles

Some more news about the Xbox 360’s successor was reported by Polygon today, and word of its social and sharing features has me giddy for both next generation consoles likely coming this fall.

I am an extremely social gamer. Although I did once sink around 13 hours into Assassin’s Creed Project Legacy, a Facebook companion game for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, I’m not talking about the genre of software we’ve come to brand as “social games.”

I’m talking about any type of video game. When I’m done playing a single player experience, I itch to talk about it with my friends to get their take. If a game I’m interested in has got a significant multiplayer component, you can bet that I’m going to try to round-up the gang before I dive in.

Seeing that both Sony and Microsoft are thinking about improving upon the way that people interact with each other when they’re playing video games has got me excited. I wrote this article back in February for the griff about how the PlayStation 4 is going to change the way that university students connect while gaming. The tone of the piece was a little tongue in cheek, but the message I was trying to deliver was honest.

It makes sense that the next generation consoles would try to leverage streaming tech and social networks in a big way, because both of those things are a big deal. When I’m not shooting my friends a text to set up our play-dates, I’m doing it in a Facebook group-message.

When I see a bug that’s disturbing like a character model’s geometry going haywire in Assassin’s Creed, or one that’s just plain infuriating like the artificial intelligence in NHL failing to live up to it’s moniker, I record it and throw it online to share.

Unlike trying to order pizza, consolidating these activities that millions of gamers like me already do is a logical move. Having the ability to share gameplay to the internet built right into the consoles’ hardware is going to remove the necessity of taking a shaky iPhone video or purchasing an expensive video-capture unit.

Of course I’m speculating a bit based on what’s been reported so far about the next Xbox. Hopefully we’ll find out more at the official announcement event on May 21, but another aspect that I’m interested in hearing about is the social networking integration.

I’ve only recently purchased a PlayStation 3, because the majority of my friends choose to play on a 360, so my PlayStation Network friends list is pretty sparse. Over on Xbox Live on the other hand, I’ve accumulated dozens of gamertags that reveal next to nothing about the people who own them.

It makes sense that the next generation consoles would try to leverage streaming tech and social networks in a big way

It makes trying to sift through the list and weed out the people I might have only met online from those that I know in real life, but haven’t played with in months, difficult. And it certainly doesn’t help that a significant portion of my friends seem to enjoy changing their gamertag every five months on a whim.

If either the next Xbox or the PS4 give me the ability to see which one of my Facebook or Twitter friends lines up with their username, a weight will be lifted from my friends list. No more having to worry about inviting the wrong person. And if the integration with social networks is pushed even farther than that (as I’m sure it will), I’ll be ecstatic.


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