Microsoft is giving the crowd the power to make Xbox Live a better place to play online games.
Today, the company introduced a pair of new initiatives it designed to empower Xbox Live community members. One is Enforcement United, which will have Xbox gamers weighing their opinion on whether or not particular content violates Microsoft’s terms of service. The second is Xbox Community Level, which will have players gaining levels and earning loot by making positive contributions to Xbox Live.
“We’ve heard your feedback that you want ways to positively shape your Xbox Live experience, and we feel this is a great way for you to get involved,” Xbox Live policy and enforcement director Glenn Kaleta wrote in an Xbox.com blog.
Enforcement United is currently in beta and will, for now, only have players judging the appropriateness of public Gamertags. Logging into Enforcement United should give players randomly selected Gamertags, and participants can choose if those names are offensive or not. The Xbox Live enforcement team built an algorithm that will weigh each vote, get a consensus, and then — potentially — force a Gamertag change on the offending Xbox Live subscriber.
“We have built in a series of carefully designed controls so no individual participant can wield unchecked power over another,” wrote Kaleta. “The system will also continually calibrate itself to understand how reliable the data is and the sources it comes from.”
Currently in the beta phase, only Xbox Live Ambassadors are eligible for the Enforcement United program. Even after the test, Microsoft will still only accept Xbox Live Gold members that are at least 18 years or older with a minimum gamer score of 1,500 into the Ambassador program.
Enforcement United and Xbox Live Ambassadors both now fall under the Xbox Community Level program.
“Xbox Community Level is designed to track positive contributions by our community members and provide rewards for those contributions,” Xbox Community Ambassador program owner Bobby Lamirande wrote in an Xbox blog. “By participating, members earn experience points, and in turn achieve levels and unlock loot.”
The XCL, as Microsoft is calling it for short, will track all player activity in the Ambassador or Enforcement United programs. The company will then calculate the XP and award loot as participants level up. Microsoft expects to use these enticements to evolve the service in the future.
“As we identify new ways in which you are already improving our community, we plan to incorporate those contributions and give you the recognition you deserve,” wrote Lamirande. “For instance, leveling up in our program today might mean that you’re a stellar Ambassador or a solid member in the Enforcement United beta program, or that you’re a contributor to both. In the future, leveling up might mean providing feedback that helps us improve our services, proven expertise in Xbox products, or even creating game guides and helpful content in the Xbox.com forums.”
Both of these new programs will work now on Xbox 360, and they will continue as Microsoft launches its next-gen Xbox One console in March.
This is just the latest step Microsoft is taking to improve its Xbox Live service. In July, Microsoft revealed that the Xbox One would revamp the old Xbox Live reputation system and would bunch low-ranking — and typically awful — players together.
Xbox Live has over 46 million members, and many of those upgrade to the premium Xbox Live Gold subscription service despite Xbox Live’s reputation for attracting verbally aggressive players who use vulgar and racist terms when playing online. Microsoft obviously recognizes the problem, and this appears like it is attempting to rectify it.
Even if it can’t get rid of every troll, rewarding players for reporting the worst of the worst is a good way to make everyone feel better.