Xbox Live

From ArticleWorld


Xbox Live is a subscription-based online gaming service for Microsoft's game consoles, the Xbox and Xbox 360. Xbox Live was launched in 2002 and relaunched in 2005 with complete Xbox 360 support.

The service allows subscribers to play multiplayer games with other Xbox Live players. The list of Xbox Live Enabled games features approximately 100 Xbox titles and many more Xbox 360 titles.

Features

The most notable feature of Xbox Live is the support for voice communication. This is done using a handset which comes with the Xbox 360 premium package or with the Xbox Live starter kit. This allows players to communicate without having to type messages, which is a significant hassle on a game console which usually doesn't have a keyboard.

Xbox Live also includes a friends system, allowing an user to see what his friends are playing and with whom, as long as they are signed in to Xbox Live.

The system itself has a high security regarding privacy and credit card usage. Microsoft introduced an interesting system, the Microsoft Points system, in order to reduce the amount of credit card transactions.

Structure

Xbox Live is a heavily centralized network, unlike those on PC or PS2. What this means is that game developers provide the game, the networking code and the media content itself, while the hosting, bandwidth and game servers are provided by Microsoft. This is a serious advantage for game developers who don't need to maintain expensive hardware in order to allow heavy multiplayer gaming. It also offers some advantage for players, who don't need to worry about lag since the connection is guaranteed to be broadband-only.

However, the centralized structure does have its disadvantages. Some games that require paying an additional fee besides the Xbox Live subscription, like MMORPGs, get more expensive than their PC counterparts. Some game developers are also reluctant to providing titles for such a centralized company where they have no guarantee that support for their game will not be discontinued for some obscure reason. Major game developers actually imposed Microsoft to allow them to use their own servers too, but this is not something every company can do.