It’s common knowledge that Xbox Live is full of terrible people. The paid service, which allows Xbox owners to engage in multiplayer games over an internet connection, has always existed as a cumulative cesspool of cheaters, obnoxious kids, racist thugs, and losers. Every once in a while, though, you’ll find a half-decent, fully-functioning member of society.
So how does Microsoft work to keep the most egregious offenders in check? It’s simply, really: they’ve got a reputation system. Every gamertag is associated with a star-rating, a gauge of how well you manage to play nice with others. As you might expect, staying off the radar and gathering friends will net you a higher score, while be blocked will lower your rating. It’s a very basic system, and as anyone who’s used Xbox Live can attest, it doesn’t work particularly well.
As we’re fast approaching the release of Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox One, we though you might be wondering what types of changes will be coming to the console’s online rep system. Here’s everything we know so far:
In a letter posted on the Xbox website after the company’s E3 conference, Microsoft made clear that their newly improved Xbox Live experience would be centered around “rewarding healthy participation while reducing troublemakers and cheaters.” All the same, a vague statement of this nature hardly scratches the surface. In a more recent interview with OXM, Microsoft’s Mike Lavin was able to go into more detail regarding the coming changes:
[quote]”There’ll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants. And you’ll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or, or harass other people en masse. You’ll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you.”[/quote]
What this means for gamers, then, is that the new system will be paying more attention to your behavior — how exactly you like to play — and then using that information to inform matchmaking.
Additionally, everyone’s online reputation “will be as fully visible as Gamerscore in your profile,” meaning that literally anyone who views your account info will be able to see how you’re scored. In other words, you’ll be branded based on your actions. If you’ve got a penchant for friendly-fire and loud noise, for example, it appears that this won’t be something you can cover up. At the current moment, we’re still not exactly sure how detailed the information displayed on your profile will be, but you should probably expect the worst.
Wondering what the fastest method would be to lower your reputation? Mike Lavin has the full scoop:
[quote]”It’s [measured] very much over a period of time. If we see consistently that people, for instance, don’t like playing with you, that you’re consistently blocked, that you’re the subject of enforcement actions because you’re sending naked pictures of yourself to people that don’t want naked pictures of you…. Blatant things like that have the ability to quickly reduce your Reputation score.”[/quote]
Not to worry, though. There are plenty of ways to raise your rating back up. Microsoft plans to hold special events built specifically to encourage positive behaviors. Furthermore, there’s no way for other players to sink your score. It’s all up to you how your profile is branded, and ultimately, how others perceive you.
Only time will tell if Microsoft’s new system will really change the Xbox Live landscape. For now at least, it seems like a pretty good solution.
Boston-based writer, artist, designer, critic, loser & storyteller. Focused on the intersection of games, culture, narrative, and art. KillerStrokes on XBL, Steam, PSN. @Wherbit on Twitter. http://willpowerarts.com/