Xbox's new Club features will be a game changer for devs, and players (exclusive)

Microsoft introduced Clubs in 2016 as part of the console's big Summer update, allowing users to create unique spaces based around any game or any topic. Now with the Xbox branch of the Windows 10 Creators Update, Club owners can endow their pages with custom branding and backgrounds, giving them a stronger presence.

Private documents for Xbox developers and partners have given us a glimpse at the future of Xbox Clubs, which include third-party API access (as we've previously reported, but can now confirm!) and some other new features.

The Stats

Microsoft touted the adoption of Clubs, which already enjoys 5 million active users across 33,000 active groups, based on all sorts of subjects. Microsoft emphasized that Clubs are being created not just for games, but also topics, including LGBT and Anime.

Xbox Clubs engagement

Xbox Clubs engagement (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft analysed two months of data from separate groups of Club-using and non-Club-using Xbox Live users, and found that users who had joined a Club sent more messages, made more friends, and connected to Live more frequently than those that didn't. Club usage increases Xbox Live engagement upwards of 40% per player on average, which, of course, in turn leads to more spending on Xbox Live.

It certainly seems within developer's and publisher's interests to give Clubs a serious look in, particularly when you consider just how powerful they will be when placed inside games in the future.

In-Game Clubs

Soon, developers will be able to leverage the Xbox Live Club's API to build clan infrastructure directly into the games. The idea is to gives players the ability to remain engaged across mobile apps and the web, even when away from their consoles or PC. For gamers, it'll mean that we can manage scheduled playdates, in-game invites and parties anywhere, at any time.

Using the example of Minecraft Realms, Microsoft will soon give developers the option to set dedicated servers in their games as Clubs on Xbox Live, allowing those communities to stay in touch at all times. With the example of Minecraft Realms, you'll be able to see how many people are currently online in your dedicated Realm from your friends list on the dashboard and on any of the apps, pinned to the top.

Developers will also be able to add deep links to their game-focused Clubs. For example, there will be a button to jump straight into Minecraft from the Realm's dedicated Club page, making it quick and easy to join your friends.

Xbox Clubs API

Xbox Clubs API (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's easy to imagine how this could work in other games, including other sandbox-type games like ARK: Survival Evolved or Astroneer. Perhaps you could use it to instantly jump into a party with your Platoon on Battlefield 1, or prepare for a raid with a clan in Destiny. The feature has huge, HUGE potential, if, of course, it gets adopted by developers.

Wrapping up

Microsoft continues its push to turn Xbox Live into a network you want to be in, rather than have to be in, simply to access your games. Every feature Microsoft has put together in recent times is about making the experience more engaging, more fun, and more interactive than ever before, and it's only going to get better.

With Beam, Looking for Group, custom avatars, the new Clubs system, and whatever else Microsoft is cooking up, Xbox Live could certainly evolve into something far more than Microsoft's multiplayer platform.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Xbox Live is evolving more and more in Microsofts own Social Network (which is good IMHO).
  • I've been saying that for years.
  • I have as well.  Xbl has been a gaming social network for a few years now.  It's awesome to see them expand it and also make the apis public so people can make apps and such.  I've been a preview member for quite a while so I see this stuff first wave and I really think people are gonna like the update coming soon
  • This is probably Microsoft's best play for relevancy in the consumer social space. Most people don't socialize around their documents or their OS. They do socialize around video games and perhaps eventually other kinds of entertainment.
  • They should bring some type of "Clubs" feature to Windows 10.
  • The really should. And also integrate the Xbox Messaging System into the upcoming Peoples Tab on Windows 10 as well (optional of course).
  • You mean... Like the Clubs they have in the Xbox app? I hope they don't add a windows specific version, it's just absolutely redundant. Use the Xbox app for Clubs.
  • Yea use the Xbox app.  Microsoft wants to keep all their gaming stuff (aside from buying) in a single place and that's essentially the Xbox app. I use the Xbox app for things like chat even when I'm on steam because I think it has better audio quality, it's more reliable and if you watch resource use it's lower than using steam or something like discord. It's also really awesome to see friends game clips and be able to comment on them.  The addition of easier access to creating clips and the almost non existent use or resources even when recording is another great reason to use the app. I think too many people assume you must own an Xbox to get any use out of that app but I understand why Microsoft calls it Xbox.  People need to understand that the Xbox brand now includes PC as well.  So they get all the features of xbl minus matchmaking for free plus they get capture capability that uses less resources than even shadow play and it also offers higher quality video and streaming options as well.
  • Is there a Playstation Function that resembels this? If not, it seems with it boosting engagement by as much as it did for MS it would benefit Sony to create someting like this. They are great at creating software afterall /s.
  • They had communities but Sony has been hacked so many times people don't really trust Sony anymore. Sony's track record with security is rather spotty.
  • Sony will launch it before 2017 is over. They have followed Microsoft everywhere they go since the original Xbox.
  • Not true. Sony for example didn't turn its UI into sh*t just because Microsoft did it.
  • For me, ps4 ui is trash. Just different point of views.
  • Agreed.
  • PS4 is Sony's shining star. They should be would be working on useful social feautres like this. While we know thier install base is less enganged on a per user basis, thier is still a larger pool of players over in Sony camp. And while it's doubtful they have the data MS has to continue improving services like this - they should at the least offer them. I joined a club for GOW4 just to always have a pal to play Horde with. Little things like that make this useful for me.
  • "custom avatars" Might want to say Custom Gamer Pictures, seeing as custom avatars are a thing in a literal sense.