11 Things That’d Make Xbox Live Better | Player One Podcast

I haven't had a gold account on Xbox Live for a while (primarily because I just don't play multiplayer online very often), and this tends to shock a lot of people.   Many see no value in the 360 without Live, even.  Well, here's an account that does an excellent job explaining things:

11 Things That’d Make Xbox Live Better | Player One Podcast (via Gazunta's twitter).

My frustration boils down to these:1) I really don’t like to play with strangers because in general it’s not a great experience.

2) Sometimes my gaming taste and the tastes of people on my immediate friends list just don’t jive, so while I have 100 friends maybe only a small handful are playing the same game I am (Hydro Thunder Hurricane).

3) Unless I look at everyone on my friends list’s recent activity or are on when they’re on, I can’t easily see what everyone’s playing or what games we might share. I have to hunt that information, it’s not being fed to me.  It’s akin to Facebook being nothing more than a list of your friends and the only way you could find out what was going on with them was by clicking on their profiles or being online at the same time as they were. There’s just a feeling of minimal actual social interaction on XBL.

4) After the first week of a big game’s release, it’s tough to coordinate a time to play with friends. It’s just luck of the draw whether they’ll be on when you’re on so you can throw them an invite.

The article goes onto explain things that could be done to improve the experience, and quite frankly nails things nearly perfectly.  In fact, off the top of my head I only came up with one thing I'd add to the final item on his list:

Regarding this suggestion:

Give some hope for those games with dead communities

As much as I’m sure Microsoft would hate to admit it, there are many XBLA games where the community is dead. There’s no one playing. Or, rather, there isn’t a critical mass of players at one time to keep things going. For instance, I love Jetpac Refuelled. Great game. No one is playing that game anymore. The chances of me booting up that game and finding someone to play against is nil. But if I was online and if I knew someone else was out there that wanted to play it, I *might* join them.

I'd even like to see a system similar to kongregate's challenge system.  On the site, games will be given revivals by temporary in game challenges for badges (kongregate's achievements) or cards for Kongai (the site's virtual CCG) or even marketing offers.  Currently Castle Wars, a game first released in 2007 has a White Castle related marketing challenge which is contributing to a whole bunch of current plays.  I'd love to see this sort of thing happening on Live (with or without the White Castle marketing), whether supported by Microsoft, or by the developer.  The service could offer for some limited time a special achievement or avatar reward, or if the game features DLC, it could offer a "free weekend" for the DLC, similar to Steam sales.

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