Xbox One Insiders get first crack at player-organized tournaments

The user-generated tournament works with only one game for now, but it's a start.

IDG

IDG

One of the features promised for the Xbox One Creators Update is slowly making its way in: player-generated Arena tournaments. That, plus a handy “who’s speaking” overlay, will be rolling out soon to members of the Xbox One Insiders program.

Microsoft rolled out the Arena feature for the Xbox One last fall, allowing users to participate in Microsoft-organized tournaments for an Xbox One game, Killer Instinct. But the new update allows players to participate in those hosted tournaments as well as those that players organize themselves—the feature Microsoft originally promised would sell the platform. Players will be able to organize those tournaments via Clubs, essentially “clans” of players who share the same interest.

According to Microsoft, though, the new player tournaments have two requirements: first, you’ll need to be part of the Xbox Insider program. You’ll also require the use of a Windows 10 PC to organize them.

To set up a tournament, users will have to go into the beta Xbox app on Windows 10, go to the Club tab, then click “Create tournament”. Once the tournament is published, then players on either the Xbox One or the PC can join. (Note that the Xbox app in question is the beta app, an app that must be separately downloaded from the Windows Store.)

Right now, the only game that allows player-generated tournaments is Killer Instinct. Next up, however, will be World of Tanks. Hosted tournaments will also be coming to Halo Wars 2 and Smite, with player-generated tournaments presumably due sometime in the future, too, Microsoft said.

Hey, who said that?

While player-generated Arena tournaments may be the highlight of the new Xbox Insider release, another feature will probably prove to be more useful: Party Overlay, which identifies the speaker in Party chat via an overlay message.

party overlay xbox one Microsoft

In this screenshot, Party Overlay is to the upper left.

When you think about it, this is a pretty handy feature. Usually, raids and other group activities between a group of online gamers either feature its own dedicated text chat or VoIP server, using a third-party app like Ventrilo. That’s a problem for a platform like the Xbox, which favors voice communication but doesn’t allow those third-party plugins. Instead, Microsoft encourages users to band together using Clubs or the related Looking for Group tool, which seeks out random strangers who may be interested in helping out. Since you’ve never met them before, however, chances are you’ll have no idea who’s talking. Party Overlay works like the Achievement Tracker, popping up a small overlay to identify who it is that’s screaming for help.

Other random improvements are coming to Xbox Insiders in the coming weeks, Microsoft said, including:

  • Captive Portal support for wireless Internet is coming to Xbox One, which allows for Wi-Fi authentication through a browser.
  • Your Arena tournament history will be shared though your profile.
  • Players can share your Looking for Group post on the Activity Feed or through a message.
  • If you stream with Beam or Twitch, you can now program your Kinect (if you have one) to find you automatically.

Why this matters: Fulfilling a promise made last fall with player-generated tournaments is a step forward, though users would probably like to see this feature extended to other games. What this and Party Overlay demonstrate, though, is that Microsoft continues to thoughtfully improve the Xbox One platform.

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