Announced on the official Xbox.com blog, the Xbox 360 team at Microsoft has replaced the “My Xbox” section of the site with a section of the site simply called “Social”. Users will immediately be directed to the new Social page when logging into the Xbox site with a gamertag. While the look of the site has changed slightly, the most notable addition within this new social push is access to the Beacon feature that’s included in the upcoming Xbox 360 dashboard update. Beacon is a hybrid of a message and a notification that lets other players know that a user wants to play a game immediately or sometime in the future. For instance, a Xbox Live member could leave a Beacon for another player asking to play multiplayer in Gears of War 3 later that evening.
By including this capability on Xbox.com, players don’t have to be at a console to schedule a game. Xbox 360 owners can schedule matches while sitting at work. It’s also possible that Microsoft will open up the API for Beacon to third party developers allowing for mobile apps that tie into the messaging system. To setup a Beacon, a user goes to the game page within the Activity feed and clicks on “Set Beacon”. Each Beacon has a limit of a 40 character message and Xbox 360 owners can create three Beacons at any given time. With the Beacon set, players will be alerted when friends are playing the same game and the activity feed can be searched for Beacons among the friend’s list.
Other updates to Xbox.com include the ability to purchase movies and television shows from the browser as well as the ability to search through the Zune video catalog. In addition, the social page has adopted the “Metro” styling of the upcoming dashboard update and users will be greeted by a similar tile structure of various featured content.