Speaking with Gamasutra, group product manager for Xbox Live, Aaron Greenberg
, laid down some new specifics regarding the new Live Messenger functionality coming in the spring update
. First, and most importantly, the service will be completely free to both Gold and Silver members. Big surprise, right? The Live Messenger integration is compatible with other versions of Messenger across the board, so users on 360 will be able to chat with users on PC and even mobile devices. Users can open up to 6 separate chats, but group chats are limited to 3 people. Greenberg uses the example of a player on a 360 chatting with a friend at work on a PC and a girlfriend on a cell phone all at once. We're not sure how often that kind of thing comes up, but it's cool nonetheless.
Greenberg also makes a point to allay fears regarding the new thumbboard peripheral. Greenberg notes that the device is very light and shouldn't interfere with the gameplay experience. Furthermore, Greenberg says that he uses thumbboards often, so the peripheral is second nature. Of course, USB keyboards are supported as well.
Discussing concerns of IM spam, Greenberg notes the messenger privacy features. The privacy features of the Xbox 360, including who you can and can't receive messages from, will apply to IM as well. There are also options like appearing online to Live friends but offline to IM friends. Finally, Greenberg says that the Xbox friends list is separate from the IM friends list and that IM friends have a different icon than the typical gamer picture associated with Xbox Live friends.
So, is cross-platform IM something that interests you? Would you be willing to drop a few bucks for the thumbboard? Will you use IM at all?