NEWS - Tuesday, May 17, 2005

E3 2005: New Xbox Live Details

At tonight’s MS conference, J. Allard showed off some of the new features and interface changes the company has done in order to upgrade their Xbox Live service in preparation for the debut of X360. One of the most talked about changes is the two-tiered system, dubbed Xbox Live Silver and Gold. While the Silver accounts can automatically connect to XBL without paying a fee, most of the tasty stuff will be available only with XBL Gold, such as playing online with other players.With both services, you’ll receive a Gamer Card. "This is basically like an online trading card." Allard proclaims. Indeed, it seems to do a great job in keeping track of all of your vitals whenever you’re online. With your Gamer Card, you receive a concurrent score, reputation and zone, depending your playing habits. In addition to that, your accomplishments over XBL are also recorded onto your gamer card so that others can view just how badass you are. Some other nifty features include being able to connect with the last 1000 people you played with, due to the XBL servers keeping track of who you play against, and being able to retain a personal profile with player comments.The second biggest change to XBL will be the Marketplace. Instead of paying a huge lump sum for features which you might not use, you will now have to do microtransactions to purchase exactly what you want. See a map for Perfect Dark Zero that you really want? You only have to pay mere cents for it. Did Bethesda post a new trailer for Elderscrolls IV: Oblivion? You can get that too. On top of that, you can also download special themes and profile pictures as well. Microsoft is really pushing this service for their Xbox Live Gold members as a way to reward them for upgrading from the Silver accounts. This is a first for the industry, as many companies have tried subscription services before, but have never had tiered service plans in the past. This decision by Microsoft will definitely set a precedent for other companies in the future, especially those dealing with downloadable content


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