Wednesday, December 2, 2009

EXP Podcast #54: Following Xbox, Friending PlayStation

It's amazing (and frightening, depending on your viewpoint) how quickly social networking websites have become part of our daily lives. In 2004, who would have thought that [The] Facebook would be keeping track of their video game accomplishments? In 2006, Twitter asked the world "What are you doing?" and now we can answer its nagging inquiry by replying: "I'm updating you on my Xbox." As Web 2.0 snakes its tendrils into our game consoles, we discuss our initial impressions of the features and exchange some ideas about the ramifications of adding our game-playing selves to the Internet Hive Mind. Seeing as how the explosion of social networking has been crucial to this site, I'll stop teasing the hand that feeds us and invite you all to jump in with your thoughts in the comments.

Some discussion starters:

- Have you activated the social networking functions on your consoles yet? If so, are you enjoying the experience? If not, what stops you from doing so?

- What effects will social network integration have on player habits?

- What does the future hold for the relationship between sites like Twitter, the game industry, and its culture? Is this the beginning of a huge change or simply a passing fad?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
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Show notes:

- Run time: 26 min 13 sec
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. I've tried Facebook on XBox 360, and the only worthwhile feature seems to be the cross-pollination between XBox Live and Facebook communities. I imagined the application to be not unlike the built-in MSN Messenger client, where your friends could see what you were playing and send messages that would appear as popups in-game. Instead, it's a dedicated application and you can do nothing else while you're logged onto Facebook.

  2. I have no beef with it, if you want to update Twitter from your controller, go ahead.

    It just seems redundant considering most people who are really active on Twitter or Facebook could do the same things much, much easier via their iPhone or laptop, which are probably also within five feet of anyone playing a game.

    It seems more of an addition to allow console makers to say, 'We also have THIS!' than to enable anything new or interesting to gamers, is all. Unless you have one of those attachable mini-keyboards, but who plopped down cash for those?

  3. Right now, the Facebook and Twitter functionalities of both consoles are pretty useless. I was really disappointed by Xbox. I was expecting a more seamless integreation. What we got instead are seperate apps you need to manually start INSTEAD of launching games. I think with game-independent voice chat and text messaging, Xbox established a very strong social multiplayer functionality. It's just a big fat shame they weren't able to follow upon that with their Twitter and Facebook integration. I want to read and write Twitter and Facebook messages from WITHIN a game of course! Anything else just doesn't make sense.

    The PS3 integration is even worse. Off the bat, it annoyed me by saying "username" on the login screen while it expected my email address. That took a while to figure out. But then the functions may be seamless but even less usefull than Xbox. On the other hand, I'm expecting poor network integration with the PS3 anyway, so no surprise there.

    Your idea of posting screenshots is AWESOME. I could imagine myself doing that. I have a hard time getting screenshots of games anyway and that could improve our ability to comment on stuff we see in games! I remember it was possible to do that in Metroid: Corruption, even though only via the Wii's message system. It was pretty useful!

  4. It seems like there is general agreement that it was sloppy Facebook integration. But aside from the screen capture capabilities (thanks for the props @Krystian), would you really want that sort of in-game in-your-face applicaton? Would you want to be reminded that your social network is paying attention to your gaming habits?

    The way that I am imagining it, it would be like an expansion of existing friends lists on the two consoles.

  5. would you really want that sort of in-game in-your-face applicaton?
    Yes, provided that it has filtering options like the web apps do.

    Would you want to be reminded that your social network is paying attention to your gaming habits?
    If my gamer friends pay attention, I don't mind. But the existence of filters is crucial, like the developers of Uncharted 2 found out. There has to be grades between "spam everyone" and "don't tell anything".

    Current apps do have decent global privacy and posting filters, but I'd love to have social group-specific filters as well. For example, showing "now playing" status updates only to people that are classified as gamers.

  6. Well, it's been over a week and I still haven't got up the nerve to link my Trophy data with Facebook. The potential to inadvertently spam people is making me hesitant.

    Maybe I'll wait until they steal Jorge's idea of screenshot posting.

  7. The concerns you guys voiced about feeling spied upon are perfectly valid, but current social media have controls built in to allow you to control who is *able* to spy on you.

    Personally, I'm exceptionally careful to limit access to *all* of my Facebook et al to only my friends. I don't want my boss to be able to see that my 360's online during a sick day, for instance. Not that I'd ever do that, of course.

    Moving forward, I'd like to see more granularity in those controls. Ultimately, it's my data, and I need to be able to control who has access to it.

  8. Hi Jonman,

    Good point about the granularity. Another related notion is transparency: I think some social networking sites are more upfront about their privacy options than others. For example, Facebook is always screwing with its filters and it tends to bury the privacy options under ambiguous language. If Facebook decides to change its policies one day, you could be caught broadcasting info you didn't intend to share.

    I guess the best solution is to only work with people who would also be taking a sick day when the next Halo game comes out. ;-)