Microsoft is expanding the capabilities of Xbox Live, and that includes making it a more feature-rich destination for competitive gamers.
Arena is up now on Xbox Live in the U.S. Preview Program, and it is providing Killer Instinct players on Xbox One with a way to participate in daily tournaments for the fighting game. To participate in tournaments, you need to check the Arena tab and then register for upcoming competitions. Of course, to play online on Xbox One, you need to pay for an Xbox Live Gold subscription that costs $60 per year, though this is not a requirement on PC once Arena goes live in the Xbox app on Windows 10. The move represents a small step for Microsoft into esports. These Arena competitions are not big, professional tournaments with corporate sponsors and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, but they should give amateurs and casual players easy access to a different style of play.
With Arena, Microsoft is working with esports organizations like FaceIt, ESL, and MLG. While players cannot start their own tournaments, those groups will organize tournaments that include small prizes.
This is just the latest new feature to hit Microsoft’s gaming network. In September, the company rolled out Clubs and Looking for Group to improve how people connect through Xbox Live. Clubs provides an instant friends list for people with common interests. Looking for Group, meanwhile, gives you a way to get online with other people who want to play the same game or take on a particular mission. While Clubs and Looking for Group appeal to players who prefer cooperative experiences, Arena is a hub for players who want a head-to-head environment.
While this just features Killer Instinct at the moment, Arena will include other games once Arena goes live for everyone. You can expect support for Microsoft’s shooter Gears of War 4, but Arena will likely also work with third-party games like Battlefield 1 and Madden NFL 17.
“During Preview, you can look forward to competing in daily Killer Instinct tournaments across Xbox One and the Xbox app on Windows 10 PC,” reads a Microsoft blog. “To start competing, all you have to do is register on the Tournament tab in the Killer Instinct Game Hub. We’re really excited about the potential of Arena and eager to hear your thoughts as we evolve it and make esports more accessible for gamers everywhere, regardless of skill level.”
Correction: This story previously stated Arena and tournaments are live on the Xbox app on Windows 10. That’s not accurate, and I’ve corrected the story.