Xbox Gamertags will take on a more 'Discord-like' option, existing Gamertags unaffected (Update)

Update June 5, 2019: Our sources have offered some additional clarification on this. As part of this system, you will not lose your existing Gamertag. I won't have to add a number to my existing Gamertag, "Jez," but if anyone new wants that name "Jez," they will adopt the numeric code at the end. There should never be a scenario where you don't know who someone is on Xbox Live. This new system will also allow for non-Latin alphabet characters that use different language systems, to allow users to represent who they are in their local languages. I've updated the article below to reflect the new information.

Update June 10, 2019: Microsoft has now confirmed the new Gamertag features on Xbox Wire (opens in new tab).

According to some information I've received over the past few months, Microsoft is working on a broad update to its Xbox Live social systems, with noteworthy changes coming to Xbox Live profiles, with new options for Xbox Live gamertags.

The biggest of these changes that we know about is the way Gamertags are offered on Xbox Live. Right now, you choose a unique Gamertag name comprised of numbers, characters, and single spaces. You can pay a small fee to change your Gamertag, which is then reflected across Xbox Live across all of your games and social interactions. This system will remain in place, but to get users into Xbox Live faster, duplicated Gamertags will receive a # code at the end, similarly to Discord and Battle.net

New duplicated Xbox Gamertags will offer a format more familiar to users of Battle.net and Discord.

According to our sources, Xbox Gamertags will get an option more familiar to users of Battle.net and Discord, allowing you to quickly sign up with any name you wish. We've heard that your unique Gamertag will remain your primary identifier across all Xbox games and services, with your Microsoft Account display name being sharable as an option.

My Gamertag right now is "Jez," for example, on Xbox Live, another user could take it too, but they might be Jez#1232, Jez#4231, Jez#6542, and so on. In games that don't support the new Gamertag system, such as older ones, your "Jez#0192" numbered username will just appear as "Jez0192," without the hash, or the display name.

It's important to note that you will not lose your existing Gamertag, and you won't need to use a # code if you come up with a truly unique gamertag. The # code is simply to help users get through the initial process of signing up for Xbox Live, without forcing people to come up with something unique by themselves. The system will also accommodate new languages as a result, for non-Latin alphabet character types. Changing your Gamertag will still require a $10 payment, to keep people from frequently switching their identifier.

The new Windows 10 Xbox Game Bar showcases the new Xbox design language. (Image credit: Windows Central)

In addition to the new Gamertags, Xbox Live profiles are also getting an overhaul. We've seen some early concepts of the new profile system, and they slightly reminisce of a modernized version of the old MSN profiles from back in the day, complete with your activity feed, and the ability to include statistics from other platforms, including PlayStation, Nintendo, and PC games. The new systems use design language featured in the new Xbox Game Bar on Windows 10, which should be an indicator of a broad, sweeping visual change across the entire Xbox ecosystem. Our sources have described the new profiles as "Business Card-like," allowing you to showcase your gaming efforts whether they're on Xbox platforms, or beyond.

If true, the new systems raise exciting possibilities for the future of Xbox Clubs as a potential, real contender to Discord and other video game social platforms. It also gives us a possible idea as to why Xbox Clubs have yet to show up in the excellent overhauled Windows 10 Xbox Game Bar.

We expect to hear more clarification about this new system either during or very soon after E3 2019, if indeed Microsoft goes ahead with the plans. If Microsoft is hoping to incorporate millions of new customers with games across Android, iOS, and eventually Nintendo Switch with the new Xbox Live APIs, as well as Project xCloud game streaming, it stands to reason that they might want to update their username systems to accommodate a bigger pool of potential names across tons of additional languages. Either way, I'm sure we'll find out more soon.

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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!

36 Comments
  • Cool I don't plan on changing my GamerTag, but cool. As an aside does anyone legitimately use their activity feed on Xbox? I know I've posted a couple screenshots from ED on there but I've never actually looked at it.
  • I use our Minecraft server one! It's fun seeing what everyone shares.
  • Ugh... I really don't like the duplicate Gamertag change. The unique tag feature is what made it YOUR tag. Putting a number behind something doesn't mean anything. The only thing I wish they would have changed would be the character limit. I have been stuck with Avatar o Apathy due to the 15 character limit for ages. All I want is 16!!!
  • Ha, I had no idea there was a character limit, and an odd amount too.
  • Using this name, I have run into this issue quite often with systems. This might be my limited programming knowledge speaking, but I have a feeling it's something to do with 8 bits in a byte and there is only 2 bytes allocated for the name. The 16th bit (or 0 bit) might be a parity bit.
  • This just sounds.... stupid. They spent soooo much time messing with the XOs UI and now they plan on messing it up again? Why does MS need to always try and be "innovative", this is just trash and will lead to a lot of abuse with name changes. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, profiles are fine as they are.
  • I think its cause the sudden PC boner MS has now. They're messing up the console side of things.
  • How does this mess anything up? This is a great feature, why wouldn't they want to implement it?
  • It doesn't really mess anything up, but its SURELY a slap in the face to any user who has had the same gamertag for a long period of time. I personally hate this idea as I've had the same gamertag since the original xbox.
  • So...keep the same gamertag? Why does it matter if someone you'll likely never meet has the same name?
  • I created my gamertag to be unique, personal and reflected me as a gamer. It HAD to be 1 and only. I hate the idea of seeing more and more plagiarized versions of my gamertag out there. If someone can't come up with something unique to brand themselves with, then they don't deserve it. The reality is that not every one is a "ninja" or a "summit1g" or a "shroud". And that's the way it should be. I want my brand to be my own, that's why I worked to create something unique. What's the point if anyone can blatantly steal my brand? I get comments all the time about how awesome/funny my gamertag is. I can only imagine how many people are going to steal my brand once this feature is up and running.
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery though.
  • Still gonna have to pay money to change it, which is bullshit but maybe it can save the idiots who made their name "something"-YT because MUH BRAND!
    Honestly I think you're just being a snowflake. Go register a trademark if you care that much...
  • Why would they append a number to a name that already exists as unique?
  • The thing is, you could actually use the same gamertage by adding numbers or approved symbols anyway. So, this isn't a big deal. Only difference is the #.
  • Eh, seemed preordained the moment they began moving toward the Universal Windows Platform.
  • man I'm a PS4 dude and even I can see that you are a total nutcase. Xbox has some of the worst ui out there and if Microsoft changes it for the better, then thank God because I'm really tired of the garbage they put out time and time again
  • Personally, I hate the ps4 UI lol
  • Good. Frustrating when you can't use the same name because someone else whom you have no connection or association with is using it. It's silly. It's not how things work in the real world. Duplicates exist. As long as there are controls to differentiate them from one another.
  • Duplicate human beings do not exist. Use a little originality and come up with something. If you're not smart enough to come up with a unique gamertag that reflects you, then you're probably one of the herd anyways and don't need one. I worked VERY hard to come up with a unique and original gamertag that reflects me. I made a list of great gamertags and narrowed it down. I probably put more effort into it than I should have, but i love gaming and I wanted my handle to be great. So when I see someone who tries to copy or steal my gamertag it makes me extremely upset.
  • How on Earth are you not able to understand or figure out that he means duplicate names exist? Of course duplicate humans don't exist. lol. I think you need to take a breather and just relax. I couldn't imagine getting "extremely upset" over things that don't matter one bit. lol
  • Adding random numbers and characters to a username is stupid. That's what people do now because over 60 million names are already taken.
  • you won't see the random numbers unless you go to their profile. have you ever even used discord?
  • I'm saying that's what is happening under the current system. People add numbers to their name in order to make it unique. I know how Discord handles it, it even goes further by allowing you to change your display name based on the channel you're in.
  • Bartel, unless your gamertag is pure jibberish, it will NEVER be unique. SOMEONE SOMEWHERE will have the same thing. Just like any real life name. Also it's only unique to XBox. I bet it's in use on other platforms. What gives you the right over others who have it elsewhere and want to consolidate their identity. It's not going to steal your identity. Bartel#101 is not Bartel#569. Especially if you're not even in the same circles. You'll be able to customise your profile to filter out others. Your friends will still identify you. Also copying and stealing are not the only ways your tag will be used. Coincidence is the other one you forgot to mention... But nevermind the # and numbers. You'll always be "Bartel the Angry" to me... your identity is preserved!
  • So... just out of curiosity what's you GamerTag, I'm interested for "research".
  • I like what Steam does, where usernames are separate from your display name
  • I like that too
  • In before everyone on Xbox Live is called Jez
  • Nope, don't like it. Keep gt original and unique. I've had mine since xbox live went up, would suck to have others use the same name. And how would it work for the original owner, would he/she alway be "unique" and everyone else would be "unique#001" etc, regardless if the owner changes their display name?
  • The original owner keeps the original gamertag, the new dude gets the #01922, similar to if I want to call myself Elvis7 today, I can just add Elvis7981283 at the end of my name.
  • And here goes Microsoft changing things that dont need changing, meanwhile xbox home is still a mess with useless icons and features covering the wallpaper
  • There's no change except the ability to accommodate extra languages.
  • Please don't moderate me. For some of you guys commenting are truly, a bunch of whiny ass *******. Yeah, I said it!
  • If I choose to change my GT with the new system will my Old GT still be shown on my profile or will no reference be made to it.
  • I can see the usefulness for similar gamertags and implementing cross platform such as what GOG 2.0 wants to do. But come on Microsoft! With this we should have the ability to change our usernames for free.
    Why do you have to charge $10 just to change it? This pretty much makes it to were the Unicode character addition is the only "interesting" new feature; I'm pretty sure Battle.net and Discord both allow for changing username without some damn paywall, it's not like your servers can't handle it.
    Maybe adopt a display name feature?