Xbox Clubs Feature is pretty cool!
If you are in the preview program Microsoft is currently rolling out - in waves - a new update that personally I think is pretty cool. The feature in question is called Clubs and you can either create your own or join existing Clubs, with the benefit of being able to add a virtual space where like-minded fellow Gamer's can hang out. You can then use the Club(s) to participate in multiplayer gaming sessions a little quicker or more efficiently I should say and potentially the Club could be a way to meet new friends.
However this is just the tip of the iceberg as the Clubs feature has other benefits which I will discuss during the article.
You can argue there are similar services already in place on the console which will allow you to try and make new friends, but it’s still hit and miss because for one you don’t know anything about that person until they become friends.
In its basic form with Clubs you can get around this by adding parameters that members need to adhere to before they join. For example advertise the Club for Gamer's who are Adults, no swearers, no trash talkers and that sort of thing.
From a gaming point of view you can set up to 10 games that your Club is in to and if you prefer that members use a mic then you can add this as well.
You also have a platform for sharing Club specific content and with this you have a new advancement to the Party system. What this is will become clear in just a moment.
Creating & Customising a Club
A video at the base of the article showcases how to create and join Clubs, but basically alongside creating your Club's name you first have to set the privacy level.
So for example you can make Clubs Public so any member can join or you have the option to create a private Club where you are only allowed in if your invitation request is accepted. Finally there is another cool feature in that you can set a Club to hidden. This is something I can see Pro Gamer's/Clans using.
A hidden Club will allow you to create a Club that only you and your fellow team will be able to access/see. This way you can use it to organise practice sessions, post clan news and have a single platform for organising gaming sessions.
Customising the look of the Club page is OK, but at the moment still limited. For example you can add a solid colour or background from your screenshots/achievements. From what I could tell there was no-way to customise the background from an imported image.
You can customise your profile avatar (which differs from your full avatar) and add games that you are into. From here it will actually list all of your installed games so you can select up to 10 of these at one time. They will then appear on the Club page as small thumbnails so people wanting to join can see them easily.
Of course you can also add a description to the Club, so other people know what the Club is about.
Finally the Club will deploy a tag system for setting out what governs the standards for the Club. I spoke about this earlier, but essentially in each tag there are several options that can be enabled. So for example you can choose a Mic option which will let other people know that the latter is required when joining.
You can also set the level of conversation requirements, in that you can inform people that this Club does not tolerate swearing. Personally this is a useful feature because while the odd swear word is OK, what I don’t want to hear is people 'Fing and Jefing' through the entire game session. Especially if the chat is being routed through the TV speakers – think of the kids sort of thing. Hence people will know from the outset that swearing is a no go.
You can allow things like trash talk if you want and then choose tags which will let others know that new comers are welcome, that you like co-op gaming, no competitiveness and so on.
Another useful tag to set is the Achievement hunting tag, which will let other members know that you welcome those who like to play games to earn those achievements.
The above is a nice touch when combined with the new Party chat feature that I will talk about in just a moment.
What can you add to your Club
Once the Club is created you can access this from the community tab via the front Home screen or by double tapping the Xbox button. From here you can use the Feed tab to post Clubs news in a similar way you can post in the latter’s community/trending feed.
You can add standard comments easily but things like screenshots, videos etc can only be added using the Share tab. For example under your 'My Clips' section in Upload Studio or via another members screenshot/video. So this could be a touch more intuitive as you need to exit out of the Club page to do anything.
The Club page will also list other members of your Club and additional it will highlight if you have created a Party, but there is a special ingredient here in the form of Looking for Groups (LFG).
This is a great option because if you want to play say a game of Destiny you can use the new Looking for Group tab and combine this with the tag system I spoke of earlier to enhance the request for people to join the party. This could be either to join a multiplayer session in order to complete a raid or to earn a particular achievement that you need help with.
By starting the LFG party you will find in the party chat window a few new options, the first of these will highlight your Club's standard tags, i.e. Adult only, No swearing etc. Then you can pick the 'Looking for Group' sub option which will allow you to pick the game from your default library and then combine this with additional tags. This can include custom Twitter style #tags, the default tags you witnessed in the Club creation phase and even achievement specific options such as selecting the particular achievement that you may want help with.
Then if other members join the party the LFG info is highlighted at the top of the party chat window. It basically provides a way for members to understand what the point of the gaming session is all about.
Mind you the only draw-back so far is that in the Looking for Group tab on your Club page it only showcases that you are in a party and it does not provide quick access to LFG specific tags; thus unless you go into the party chat window itself you won't know any of the finer details. As a result the Club page still has some room for improvement, but it is still early days.
Similar to Forums you do have some moderation tools.
Moderating can be done by yourself or you can assign other members Admin rights so they can do the latter for you.
By moderating you can deal with posts flagged by other members of your group, ban users, un-ban them and so forth.
Of course you can also join existing Clubs and the search system will allow you to fine tune your requirements using the tag system I spoke of earlier. Alternatively you can search by game and the list does populate pretty quickly.
However once you find a Club you can of course request an invite if it’s private or instead follow the Club. This way you can view the actives of the members in your community tab feed to see what the banter is like before you join.
You can see if your request has been accepted by going into the Clubs section via the Home Screen and within the Club you want to join the option should change to 'Accept'. However you still have the ability to leave a Club so you are not tied down to it.
At the moment the Clubs feature is in its Beta stage so there are a few options that need to be fine-tuned before release. However from my point of view it’s still an instant hit for helping to find like minded Gamer's amongst the millions of Xbox Live members!
Note: The feature is on Xbox One at the moment, but it will also be coming to Windows 10 via the Xbox App and to Windows Phone 10, iOS and Android owners of the App.