Six great new features at

It’s been quite a while since had a major update and today sees the launch of the new version with a clean new look and a whole host of new features that our teams here at LIVE engagement have been working on.

There are a whole great new set of features, my favorites are below… note that some of these are not available in non-LIVE locales.

Showing the Avatar Editor in action

1. Avatars

Avatars are no longer just for the console but are escaping out onto the web and Windows Phone 7. With the new Avatar Editor you can create your own avatar or modify your existing one with a new easy-to-use interface from your browser.

The new Avatar Marketplace lets you search and find cool items for your avatar to wear and try them on right-there in the search pages. Head on in either by game or by lifestyle (brands) (click the little grid icon to see sub-brands such as your own university’s sports team!).

Because these guys are 3D animated they require Silverlight to be installed on your machine (the streaming videos on also require it)

2. Marketplace search & results

A brand new search function means we get much better results than before, fuzzy matching and some dynamic filtering options that appear on the left-hand side letting you dig down into family friendly games (e.g. by game ratings).

Another cool use is to search for your favorite band and see what tracks and packs they have available. Then head to the game filter on the left to see only the ones that work with your game (e.g. Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Dance Central etc!)

When you visit the product detail page it now shows the images and streaming video inline (goodbye popups) as well as game add-ons showing which games they work with – useful for those music track packs!

3. Hand-picked promotions

Our content teams can now put together collections of themed hand-picked games, add-ons etc. that you can you filter, sort and explore from such as the new Kinect games (gone) or family-friendly fun (gone).

Gold and family gold members should keep an eye out for Gold exclusive offers or pricing!

4. Streamlined account creation

It’s now easier-than-ever to sign up for a free Xbox live account. Less questions, less steps and we’ll give you a randomly-generated gamertag you can change for free later when you’ve had chance to decide on the perfect name for your game-playing alter-ego. (We’ve seen some fun auto-generated ones during the development cycle including FirmJunk,

Comparing games on

5. Compare games with your friends

Okay, you could compare games before but the new UI is better and there’s a cool hidden feature that lets you compare against multiple people at the same time.

To do this head into My Xbox’s Game Center and choose a friend to compare with. Now, notice the url at the top of the page? Put a comma after it and another gamertag to see three… or another comma and a gamertag to see all four (the maximum) side-by-side.

6. Family center

New with this update is the Gold Family Pack (discontinued) which lets you get four gold subscriptions for $99 a year and lots of cool family features including play time reports, gifting points, allowances etc.

There are a whole host of extra features to be seen at including mobile-to-web gaming, improved messaging, simplified UI etc. so go check them out!


4 responses

  1. Avatar for Matt

    Hi Damien,

    Is this post due to an interest you have in XBL (e.g. hobby) or are/were you involved in the development in some way?

    Matt 20 October 2010
  2. Avatar for Damien Guard

    I'm a developer at working on the marketplace.

    Damien Guard 20 October 2010
  3. Avatar for John Hunt

    Do your managers force you to use Silverlight? If so, it's a real shame Microsoft still seem to be pushing this. I understand it probably even works properly on Linux now, but why not just use flash.. from an end user perspective flash is far superior as it's already installed and does the same thing.

    It does look good though, so well done!

    John Hunt 20 October 2010
  4. Avatar for Damien Guard

    @John: Look at it from the other way... Why would we want to use Flash when we have a superior competing product, access to all the tools and resources and can share code with mobile (Windows Phone 7) and services (platform) teams?

    Damien Guard 21 October 2010