Who said that you cannot be a gamer and a social media addict at the same time? If you didn’t know it by now, (and few do), Xbox LIVE, the online gaming and entertainment service for Xbox 360, is more than a closed online forum for Xbox 360 addicts. A gold (paid) membership to this online service adds Netflix streaming, photo sharing and Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm and Zune connect for all adult members.
The information is vital for Xbox 360 game designers, for companies that sell these games and for video game PR, naturally. With these social networks connected to Xbox LIVE, more advertising and marketing doors are opened for game promotion. Not long ago, we announced that Twitter will allow advertising in its search results. Naturally, Xbox gamers who use Twitter from their Xbox LIVE accounts will search for things they are interested in, like game promotions, updates, press, etc. This equals opportunity, as well as placing the marketing message directly in front of the consumer.
Xbox LIVE added these social networks in the fall of 2009, but Microsoft didn’t market the move as extensively as it should have. Of course, the geeks already know, and coverage by all tech news outlets and niche specific outlets is self understood. But most PRs, marketers and social media gurus missed the news, as our research shows.
At the time in June 2009, at E3, the annual video game conference in Los Angeles, where the move was announced; and later in the fall when the features went live, the only serious reviews were written by Xbox LIVE users, who were excited about the new opportunities given by these new additions. For example, Twitter status updates can make it easier to organize online meet-ups between users. There are still drawbacks, like the impossibility to click on links, since Xbox has no web browsing tool, but for Xbox users the message matters more than browsing the network. Right now, Promoted Tweets will be displayed in search results just like any other tweets. So if Call of Duty has a message for its customers, this will reach them, in real time, provided that they are connected and searching at the moment of the tweet, Re-tweet, etc.
With Last.fm Xbox LIVE users can listed to personalised radio stations, connect with other players and even listen to curated tag stations filled with game-inspired content. Facebook works pretty similar with Twitter, via a friend linker feature that connects players. Live status updates enable Xbox gamers to share photos and favorite gaming moments from television to Facebook.
These new Xbox features are just the beginning – an added functionality for Xbox LIVE, and a clear indicative of what will follow in the near future. You can expect Xbox LIVE to add a web browser if the users demand it, despite the fact that currently Microsoft don’t believe in the need of such a tool. That’s only because browsing the web from a TV is a poor experience, at the moment. Not for long though, if you consider the most recent news where Google is working with Intel and Sony to develop a new class of Internet-enabled televisions and set top boxes. Xbox cannot afford to stay behind the trends for a long time.
There’s an interesting lesson here, in the light of the news that other major corporations, who seemed to ignore social media before, are now focusing more and more in integrating themselves in all the popular networks of the moment. Social media is not just a trend – it’s just a phase in the evolution of the way we communicate globally. Gamers, who were in the past happier to be part of little communities, now want to be an active part of this evolution, and this is a reality that cannot be ignored. It’s called progress.