Microsoft’s Xbox One development process has been one of the most closely watched and hotly debated topics in video game history. From false starts, hardware related complaints, and dozens of other concerns and questions, for better or for worse, the Xbox One has been on the top of thousands of gamer’s tongues.
One of the most interesting developments in regards to the Xbox One is the system’s ‘Friend App’.
Microsoft’s beloved Major Nelson spoke in detail about the feature in a video released on Xbox’s official YouTube channel, touting the Friend App’s apparent innovation and ability to connect gamers the world over.
While interesting, denying the Friend App’s similarities to the social media juggernaut, Facebook, is near impossible.
This is not to say that Microsoft is completely ripping off Mark Zuckerberg’s creation, or that there are no differences between Facebook and the Friend App, but rather that Microsoft’s attempt to emulate the most important social connectivity brand of all time in a way that is meaningful to video game players will forever change how people bond through playing games.
In the Friend App video, the excitement in Major Nelson’s voice is palpable. He is confident and assured in the importance of this Xbox One feature.
The Friend App allows for seamless management of a user’s friends and followers. Microsoft and their Xbox family has always succeeded where it counts in terms of social integration through their Xbox One dashboard, and the Friend App is in many ways a sleeker, modernized successor to it.
As Major Nelson goes through the App’s features, similarities towards Facebook do arise. Starting with the Friend App’s feed; it is easy to draw comparisons to the mindless scrolling through Facebook’s feed that has become almost an epidemic in today’s society. In the same vein of the App’s feed, the overhaul to user profiles, specifically the snapshot-esque overview and personal recent activity draws parallels again to Zuckerberg’s creation.
Similar again is the view of Xbox One user’s friend profiles. The ability to navigate from the App’s feed to someone’s personal page, and a quick view of their recent achievements and activity again matches the persistent profile-viewing that dictates much of the social media world.
The favorites section recalls Facebook once again, but is perhaps the most meaningful addition to the App’s repertoire. Referred to as a ‘snapshot of who you care about most on Xbox Live’ by Major Nelson, usage of the favorites feature allows for some interesting options. Similar to how Facebook allows users tailor who appears most frequently in their friends list and feed, the App’s favorites feature makes management across large groups of gamers much simpler.
Allowing users to follow different people without actually being friends with them is vaguely similar to Facebook’s ‘like’ pages and the option presented by the site to follow different users. However, its importance to the Xbox One is much more apparent than a quick glance might suggest.
As the video games industry continues to grow, so too does the prevalence of more and more people becoming professional players. With much more awareness and attention to professional playing and by the same nature, the personalities associated with them; Microsoft’s move to allow gamers to be able to connect with those characters goes miles in terms of creating a sense of community.
Drawing similarities between the Xbox One’s Friend App and Facebook is of course not entirely a bad thing. Facebook, and social media by extension, have become by a large an integral part of the human experience. Microsoft’s decision to blend their already popular online features with the best assets of Facebook is a genuinely brilliant business strategy.
By taking features and systems that are become mainstays in the lives of many, Microsoft has ensured that the Friend App will allow for the next wave of interpersonal relationships to be fostered through their online features. Creating, borrowing, and in some cases improving upon the Facebook experience, while still making it appeal to gamers almost exclusively is in many ways a perfect storm for Microsoft.
People already feel familiar with Facebook, incorporating elements of it into the core components of their new system, has ensured that Microsoft will be continually ahead of the curve as interests, tastes, and even communication methods as a whole change from video game player to video game player.
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