One of the biggest problems with the Xbox platform at a global level is how poorly Microsoft supports countries outside of its home turf. The U.S. and U.K. enjoy top-tier support for things like services, games, and features, but other countries, particularly those with less popular languages, often get the short end of the stick. It's often said that competing platforms like Nintendo and PlayStation do far more to support localization and language displays in their respective storefronts, and thankfully, Microsoft is finally working to up its game in this area.
In a blog post on Xbox Wire, Microsoft outlined its first update to the way languages are displayed on the Microsoft Store for Xbox and Xbox Game Pass, which has been in testing on the Xbox insider rings for a few weeks.
The Xbox store got a massive revamp a few months ago, codenamed Mercury, which revealed a fluent-style design profile and increased usability. However, it was still missing basic language displays on game store pages, leading to Xbox fans curating and researching their own lists of language support in games.
In store pages now, you can view which languages are supported within a game's interface, audio, and subtitles before commiting to buy. Microsoft has added language metadata for "hundreds" of games, and will add more over time. The default language for your console will display results for your language at the top of the list, so you don't have to scroll around to find your language too, which is a nice touch. Microsoft says it's planning further upgrades in this area in the coming months.
We spoke to Microsoft about its intents behind this update, and a spokesperson confirmed that language information tags are still an optional feature for developers, and not a certification requirement. They also said they want to make it as easy as possible for developers to add this information, while also encouraging them to do so.
Microsoft emphasized that it wants players to feel "at home" on Xbox, and that more robust language support is a big part of bringing that vision to fruition. Indeed, if Microsoft seeks to target the three billion-strong gaming market as it often says in its internal communications, a broader approach is definitely needed. It's great to see them take the first step. Now ... let's get some more JRPGs!
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at 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!