Statistically speaking, it’s safe to say you didn’t camp in front of your favorite gaming retailer on November 15th, 2002 to pick up one of the first Xbox Live subscriptions, back when it was $35 for a year, came with a headset and some boring demos. So it’s strange that aside from slight tweaks when the Xbox 360 came out three years later, or when Avatars came out a few years after that, managing friends on the service is about as big a pain now as it was when the service started.
It didn’t really bother me too much until recently when I went to accept some new friend requests. Some peeps had just gotten Xbox consoles and were getting on Live for the first time. For one thing, I couldn’t add them because my friends list is at capacity. So, that’s problem number one: Why Is My Friends List on Xbox Live Capped At 100 People? On a recent Bombcast during E3 2011, Xbox Live guardians Stepto and E stated that changes like that require a ton of planning and that to make even minute adjustments to such a large service had the tangental effect of nearly wiping out the universe. C’mon guys, it’s 2011. You can have 5,000 friends on Facebook, video chat with them in real time through one portal and you can’t even achieve that. Seriously.
Of course, that all seems useless in the face of the fact that scrolling through that list of people (see pic above), I didn’t recognize any of them. This is actually an issue I’ve had with the service since the Pandora Tomorrow days, so I have to ask, Why Can’t I Notate Contacts To Indicate How I Know Them? or Why Can’t I Sync My Facebook Account with Xbox Live and Determine Relationships That Way? or even better, Why Is There So Little Glanceable Information On My Friends List? Flipping through it, I recognized maybe fifteen people. I know I’d added others over the years playing this game or that, but I haven’t done any regular matchmaking in years, not since GTA4 at least, so I have a field of people I’ve added and then never played with again. That’s not even counting the people who change their tags, either. Now granted, you get a little bit more information by drilling into individual profiles, at least on the site…
…but not much, really. Okay, I just happen to know it’s Johnny, but if I didn’t I’d just assume it was some dude with a witty Bio and delete him for the new friends I’ll play with once or twice. Sure, I can send him messages, we can even compare Achievements (!), but all that just to see who he is? C’mon now.
It seems so strange that Microsoft’s cutting edge platform and most exciting new properties is so damn backwards when it comes to managing friends in an era where your social graph, and how you interact with it, is becoming so important. You guys spent billions building this thing, why are you just sitting on it now?