Later this year Xbox Live is getting a huge new update that will make it a lot more social. The update will introduce a new feature called "clubs," which lets users create pre-defined groups that exist outside of games, and include tools like persistent chat so that friends can hang out even when they're finished a round of Halo. "Clubs is sort of our version of guilds and clans in MMOs," says Mike Ybarra, director of program management at Xbox.
The idea is that the owner of a group can create specific parameters — you might want a group only for highly-skilled Destiny players, or one for people who love to build cities in Minecraft — and then you can manage who joins the group. You can assign moderators, kick out troublesome players, or invite friends, and include filters for things like age or whether or not you want to allow swearing. "There's a lot of flexibility," says Ybarra.
"Clubs is sort of our version of guilds and clans in MMOs."
As part of the news, Microsoft also revealed that it's bringing what Ybarra describes as "the full Xbox Live app" to both iOS and Android. That means that you'll be able to use club features like the persistent chat on a range of platforms, including Xbox One, Windows 10, and mobile. "We want to be on any device that a gamer has," he notes, "whether that's a competing platform or our platform."
The new feature essentially takes a PC gaming staple — being able to talk with friends in IRC outside of in-game chat — and makes it both multiplatform and integrated with Xbox Live. Similarly, Microsoft will also be introducing a new feature that lets you find people on Xbox Live who are interested in doing something specific right that second: you simply post that you're looking for someone to round out a group for a Destiny raid, and your request will appear on the game's hub page.
All of these new Xbox Live features will be available as part of the Xbox One's October update.