Microsoft: ‘Nearly 1 million’ unused Xbox Gamertags now up for grabs

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Microsoft announced plans to wipe “nearly 1 million” unused and dormant Xbox Gamertags this week, giving gamers a rare opportunity to reclaim abandoned Xbox Live usernames.

“Many of the best and most desirable Gamertags were unavailable … until now,” Xbox Wire editor-in-chief Will Tuttle explained. “We’ve listened to your feedback and once again Team Xbox is excited to announce the release of a large number of previously unavailable Gamertags!”

Microsoft’s Gamertag release process will begin on May 18, and will continue through the rest of the month.

All of this month’s newly available Gamertags were initially registered when Xbox Live launched in 2002. Microsoft assures that the upcoming mass-deletion will only affect users who never transferred their Xbox Live account to an Xbox 360 or Xbox One console over the last decade.

“These Gamertags are from the original Xbox era, the same source of Gamertags we used in our 2011 release,” Tuttle wrote. “These accounts never migrated to Xbox 360 and as a result they have been inactive for quite some time.”

Squatters claimed many sought-after Xbox Live usernames during the service’s formative years, and Microsoft’s impending cleanup will make many of them available for registration for the first time in over a decade.

While Microsoft did not give specific examples of Xbox Live Gamertags that will be available for re-registration this month, the publisher notes that players will soon be able to claim many usernames that feature “proper names, pop culture references, types of food, geography, and travel, science and technology, math and numbers, animals, and some of the greatest inventions of all time.”

Microsoft notes that this month’s newly released Gamertags will be up for grabs for “Xbox Live Gold customers with active subscriptions and at least one year of cumulative Xbox Live Gold tenure.” Xbox Live users are given one chance to rename their Gamertag for free, and all future changes require a $10 fee.