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.
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.
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.
Xbox accessories you'll love
Every one of these quality accessories is guaranteed to enhance your Xbox experience.
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox One ($20 at Amazon)
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Talon PDP Xbox media remote ($20 at Amazon)
The Talon PDP Xbox media remote is great for watching shows on your console.
Xbox One S vertical stand ($10 at Amazon)
Stand your console upright with this accessory.
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