The Xbox Clubs system will be opened up to developers so they can create in-game systems, according to leaked documents.
Microsoft unveiled Xbox Clubs in late 2016 as a way to create social groups on Xbox Live. Using the Xbox One itself or various Xbox apps, players can now set up and manage their own "Clubs," complete with membership systems, a common chat room, and a Facebook-like social feed for sharing screenshots, clips, and status updates.
Targeting an April launch, developers will soon be able to access a new tool, or application programming interface (API), that will let them leverage Xbox Live's Club system in their games, according to official Xbox developer documentation leaked to Windows Central. Developers will be able to use the API to create structures such as clans and multiplayer guilds, and then sync them to Xbox Live.
The document we received details various upcoming known improvements to Xbox and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs developers will be able to use in their games, including dev optimizations to leaderboard systems, stat tracking, and various hardware analysis improvements. This in-game Clubs API for devs, however, is a new feature.
We don't have a full description of exactly what will be accessible in the Club API, but it could provide a huge boost to games such as Destiny and Elite Dangerous, which have traditionally lacked decent in-game clan support. Hopefully, the new Club API will allow you to view community chat systems, invite members, and create "Looking For Group" ads in-game, so you can create scheduled play dates without having to jump out of the game and into an app.
It's easy to speculate on how Clubs could evolve as an API, as well. Perhaps eventually it will include branding and logos, maybe even pick up an open web API for creating Clan sites and beyond. Microsoft will likely announce the Club API and its features in the coming weeks, ahead of the planned April release timeframe.
It's clear that Microsoft has huge aspirations for Xbox Live, not just as a multiplayer service but also a gaming social hub. Between Clubs, Beam, and Xbox Live itself, Microsoft might just achieve its goals.
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