Voice chat has been a large part of the Xbox’s identity since the original console. While games like Halo put in place the console’s stigma of being online focused, additions like voice chat cemented it. That isn’t to the detriment of the console either. Microsoft has always crafted great online experiences and their influence has now standardized online console features for the industry. Online multiplayer is a key component of most AAA console games and that is partly thanks to Microsoft’s online initiatives from the get-go.
Microsoft is placing an even stronger emphasis on its Xbox Live services with the Xbox One. Every console comes bundled with a microphone and the upgraded Kinect to support voice chat and the console will have more services than ever. Also unsurprisingly, the console has significantly upgraded its voice chat service and capability.
While Xbox One users will enjoy improved voice quality, they will not be able to chat via voice with Xbox 360 users. Revealed by Microsoft’s Major Nelson, the new service will take advantage of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype and implement it in group chats as well as in-game. Here is a direct comparison between the Xbox One and Xbox 360’s voice chat capabilities.
Major Nelson, otherwise known as Larry Hyrb, revealed that the chat service will be taking advantage of Skype’s audio codec. Microsoft has emphasized their partnership with Skype since the console’s launch and having the feature take cues from the service is a welcome addition to Xbox Live.
Hyrb also explained that the new controller comes with an expansion port that dramatically increases data transfer rates allowing clear chat.
“Combined with Skype’s audio codec, this enables crystal-clear digital audio with the Xbox One Chat Headset, both capturing and rendering speech at 24 KHz PCM, which is triple the rendering sample rate and a 50 percent capture rate improvement over Xbox 360 headsets.”
In other Microsoft gaming news, the Xbox Live Marketplace is currently going through rebranding. Just last week the Marketplace transferred its currency system from Microsoft Points to real life currencies and to support that, the service is now getting a title change.
In the UK, the store will be known as the Xbox Game Store and in the US, it has changed name to the simplified Xbox Games. While it is only a cosmetic change, it is a smart move by Microsoft to distance their online store from the Xbox Marketplace name. The service had been heavily associated with the much maligned Microsoft Points, and simply changing the name of the service helps give it a new identity going forward.
The Xbox One releases November 2013.