Xbox One March update adds backward-compatible game purchases, 16-player party chat

Microsoft will roll out a new wave of features to the Xbox One preview community Tuesday, according to company evangelist Major Nelson. The March system update for Xbox One will focus on expanding party chat and the console’s compatibility with Xbox 360 software. The Xbox smartphone app will also receive a beta tester update, which will push to preview users Wednesday, March 2.

The largest and widest range of new features affect the console’s party chat feature. Party chat, which now supports up to 16 players on both Xbox One and the Xbox app, can be recorded during Twitch livestream broadcasts. The broadcasting will be opt-in, so players can join a broadcasting group, but not broadcast their individual channel, which may lead to some extremely awkward conversations. The console will also offer the option for players to listen to party chat on headphones and through speakers simultaneously.

Speaking of gameplay recordings, Xbox preview members will be able to customize how long the console’s DVR records when triggered. In addition to the current 30-second standard, players can choose to reduce the recording length to 15 seconds, or extended it to 45 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes.

The update also adds new features to further integrate Xbox 360 games into the Xbox One ecosystem. First and foremost, players in Xbox One preview will be able to purchase backward-compatible Xbox 360 games through the Xbox One storefront. According to Nelson, the process will work exactly the same as purchasing an Xbox One game, and will download to the console automatically after purchase. Also, Xbox 360 achievements will now appear the Xbox One activity feed and on the Xbox app.

Other new upgrades coming to the Xbox One preview and Xbox app beta include a new feature that allows users to compare their Avatar with their friends’, web and YouTube links in Game Hub activity feeds, and a re-tooled the reputation system to emphasize when players have earned “needs work” or “avoid me” branding.

In addition to the functions described above, the Xbox smartphone app beta will see an updated the Gamerscore leaderboard to match the new format on Xbox One, and an updated “Featured” section.

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