Skype was created in 2003 and in 2011 was bought by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. The service caters to over 600 million users worldwide and offers free communication over the internet using video and voice. And this could be the key for the Xbox 720 to keep the voice features for the new console ahead of the PlayStation 4.
The Xbox 360 launched with the ability for voice chat. This was available to players to talk to friends and enemies in your game and, crucially, across different games. This ability made the console a much more social experience and became a much coveted feature in the console fanboy wars. The PlayStation 3 could not offer their user base the same feature, limiting its users to a basic voice feature that could only be used within the very game that they were in. This restriction was due to differences between the two console’s RAM usage with the Xbox 360 being able to split the memory between the game and the voice chat, while the PS3 forced all the memory into whatever game you were playing.
This feature proved a sore point for Sony with the users regularly requesting the feature. Sony could not do anything about it, however, until they announced the PlayStation 4. In details released by Sony, the feature was mentioned “Through PS4, users are able to deepen their connections through co-op play or “cross-game chat”.” If this promise is fulfilled, this shows that the competition is catching up to the features that Microsoft held strong with for the last generation.
The key to keeping ahead of the market is to fully integrate the company that the Xbox developer already owns into games, into films, into television and more. By integrating cross-game video chat would extend the social future that next generation seems to be taking past Sony and Nintendo. But the software must be implemented effectively.
Windows 8 integrated Gamertags into its operating system effectively and uses that to buy films and music on the PC using the same accounts as you would on the Xbox 360. Do the same with Skype. Integrate the Xbox with Skype on PC, tablets and mobile phones. For example, while using the PC you see the little green tick letting you know your friend is on Skype. Alongside the tick is a green ring of lights letting you know that person is available to video chat while they play. A great option would be to allow friends on PC to watch them play their game while you are on PC similar to the screen sharing options that Skype offers between Windows users.
Imagine watching your friend cower in horror at the latest Dead Space or seeing them jump for joy at beating your time in a Need For Speed game. Or, similar to Sony’s strategy, let people watch you play on your phone when out and about or calling your friend’s iPhone or Android (dependent on your preference) to tell your best friend to get on Skype and watch this game that you are playing! There are so many opportunities for this to be used it would be ridiculous for Microsoft not to use them if you really think about it!
Xbox are thought to be revealing their newest hardware in a special event in April, we may find out if they use this essential feature then.