Microsoft set my heart aflutter last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas when Xbox 360 group manager Aaron Greenberg told gaming blog Joystiq that the company was “looking at” increasing the size of Xbox Live’s friends list to something larger than its current, 100-friend limit.
While 100 friends is probably more than enough for most people, those of us who play more obscure games, where it can be tough to find enough players for a match, like to add as many people as possible to our friends lists. Additionally, many Web sites and gamer communities create profiles to represent their site, adding their readers or members to the friends lists. For example, I maintain the Gamertag for CuldceptCentral.com. The friends list, which currently stands at about 90, has dozens of gamers that take part in the site’s leagues and tournaments, as well as folks who’re just looking for people to play with. With a couple of requests rolling in each day, though, I’ll have to start culling.
Even thinning the heard can be an exercise in frustration, though, as the friends list isn’t sortable in any way, which brings me to a list of features I’d like to see in what I call “Friends List 2.0.” Obviously, these suggestions are more tailored toward the Xbox 360 and its successor because that’s what I’m most familiar with. But they’re features that’d be welcome on the PlayStation 4 and whatever Nintendo calls the successor to the Wii. Without further ado, here they are:
1. Groups: Microsoft added a level of MySpace-like social networking back in December 2007 when it let us start viewing our friends’ friends. What many of us would like to see is the next logical step, letting gamers join Facebook-like groups. For example, rather than maintain a separate Gamertag for CuldceptCentral.com users, I could just set up a group from my regular Gamertag, Dirk Dorkelson, and go from there.
2. Nicknames: I’ve got about 70 people on my friends list, but I probably have no idea how at least 20 of them got here. I’d like the option to add my own short labels, like “Met playing ‘Catan.'”
3. Date added and Last played with: The friends list isn’t sortable at all, as it stands right now. I’d like to be able to filter my friends list to see who’s been on there the longest, and who I haven’t played with in more than a year.
4. Some sort of way to filter by game: I removed a guy from my friends list recently because he kept spamming me with three or four invites a day to join him in a game I have never even played. Shouldn’t I be able to tell my friends list to show me my three or four friends who’ve played “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.” In fact, go one step further and allow me to filter by, “Played ‘Left 4 Dead’ within last month.
5. The ability to tag friends: If you belong to a few different gaming communities, it’d be nice to keep everyone straight. I’d like to be able to give my CuldceptCentral.com friends and my GeezerGamer.com friends their own labels, and sort accordingly. Additionally, this could act as a substitute for No. 4.
6. The ability to tag and rate games: If being able to filter your friends list by who’s played what game comes to pass, why not give us control of our games by letting us rate them, say, on a 10-point scale by how much we’d like to play them online? For example, if there’s a game you’re so obsessed with that you’ll drop whatever you’re doing to play it, you rate it as a 10. Similarly, if you traded in “Call of Duty 4” at GameStop toward a reservation of “Call of Duty: World At War,” you could change the rating on “COD4” to 0, and no one would bug you with requests.