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Microsoft: "The Sky's The Limit" For Xbox One Party Chat

Microsoft tries to explain why Xbox One's Party system is a downgrade from Xbox 360.

By Mike Williams. Published 4 months ago

So, parties on the Xbox One aren't doing it for a lot of people. While they were quite simple on Xbox 360, on Xbox One there are certain restrictions, like not being able to play different games while chatting. So if you're in a party chat with friends and they're playing Ryse, you need to be playing Ryse as well. Or staring at the Windows 8-style home screen, I guess.

Xbox Live director of programming Larry Hyrb, known as Major Nelson to many, has already said that Microsoft is looking to improve party chat, but why did it change in the first place? Xbox Group Program manager Jeff Henshaw talked to Polygon about why the service was changed for the new console.

"Chat changed because the system is now able to do more than one thing at once," Henshaw explained. "In the old world when the entire console was basically consumed with exactly one thing - the game that it was running - everything that happened atop of it, like the tiny Xbox guide you used to get when you pushed the Xbox 360 button, or chat, had to be incredibly thin, little layers that basically enabled a tiny bit of functionality while keeping out of the way of the game."

"With Xbox One there is an architecture with both hardware and software resources there to enable us to do multiple things at once," he continued. "So parties can become more robust things over time. Right now it is a basic collecting point to prepare to go play a game. Basic voice chat, ability to invite people, ability to pick a title along the side and ability to launch everyone into that title for multiplayer play while the party continues to exist."

Unfortunately, being able to do more things at once means Party is its own app, seperate even from the Xbox One's Friends app. That means when you want to manage both, you have to use Snap or switch back and forth. Henshaw said that the new architecture means the app could improve over time.

"I envision parties becoming an increasingly high-fidelity, increasingly full-featured, increasingly collaborative or corroborative... to provide you with more things to do while teams assemble, more things to do while you wait for the game to start, whether it's review leaderboard statistics, compare your standings," he said. "We have the platform that enables that to happen. So I think the sky's the limit in terms of where we take it. The key was getting the platform launched that enables that innovation to take place. That platform is now launched and the innovation has begun."

So, the Xbox One will be become more Party-friendly in the future. Cold comfort to early adopters, but much like the Xbox 360, the One you're playing today probably won't be the one you're using in two or three years.

The best community comments so far 5 comments

  • Spazgadget 4 months ago

    "In the old world when the entire console was basically consumed with exactly one thing - the game that it was running - everything that happened atop of it, like the tiny Xbox guide you used to get when you pushed the Xbox 360 button, or chat, had to be incredibly thin, little layers that basically enabled a tiny bit of functionality while keeping out of the way of the game."

    So, they've got a machine that's many times more powerful than the previous hardware, but can't manage to keep that "incredibly thin" layer of functionality they had 7 years ago? Cross-game chat was a huge checkbox in the "pro" column for why Xbox was a better online service last generation, and they've gimped it.

    Their explanation of why it isn't there doesn't really instill me with a lot of confidence.

  • d0x 4 months ago

    His explanation makes sense but it was a silly oversight. It lends credibility to ms rushing to meet Sony at launch and that the Xbox os needed another 6 months in the oven to be finished. What we got is good and lays a great foundation but its just the basics. Hopefully they update more often than they did on 360.

  • brokenkey 4 months ago

    The old "we ran out of time, sorry" excuse.

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