We did it for the Switch. We did it for the Playstation 5. It’s only fair that we’re doing it for the Xbox as well. Earlier this month, Sony announced it would remove the barely used Accolades feature from PS5, allowing you to gift prizes to others in multiplayer games. This sparked a thought process: What other features could be removed from popular gaming platforms without much fanfare?
The Xbox user interface is quite refined and has been honed for about a decade. (The Xbox Series X/S uses the same user interface as the Xbox One; it’s universal across all console generations.) Still, there’s always room to trim. These are the features that Microsoft could remove from the Xbox without causing much of a stir.
Pin on Home
You can permanently pin any game to the Xbox: hover your mouse over the icon, tap the hamburger button and select ‘add to home’. Maybe there’s a use case I’m overlooking, but the logic behind this has always let me down. If you play a game so much that you have to permanently pin it to your home screen, it’s probably already on your home screen as one of your most played games. (The top line of the Xbox UI shows your six most recently used apps. Your game library is literally there too.)
Every Xbox game has what’s called a Game Club, which can be accessed by viewing the game’s “game map” (in the menu that appears after tapping the hamburger button) and then going to the “official club” icon. Here you can see information about the specific game, from achievement tracking lists to “news” stories (which you can always just favorite gaming news site). The Progress tab also shows you down to the minute how much time you’ve spent on that game – good stuff! So it’s not like Game Hubs are whole useless in itself. It’s more that they unnecessarily obscure the information you really want, an aspect that’s put in stark contrast given how easily it’s accessible on competing platforms, such as the PlayStation and Switch.
We’re well into the age of Zoom, but the ubiquitous specter of a video chat app from some five internet eras ago hasn’t gone anywhere. Yes, Skype is a lot on xbox. My only question here is…uh, why? It’s partly intended as an alternative to voice chat, I guess, but pretty much any chat option is better, including Microsoft’s, or the recently added Discord integration (ideal for cross play).
Of course, in the console’s settings, under the Preferences menu, you can set automatic pause reminders in half-hour increments. (These notifications only show up when you’re playing a game, but the clock starts counting as soon as you turn on your Xbox.) But come on, no one wants their Xbox to act like their parents. Moreover, leisure time is more precious than ever today. If you can reasonably hold a few hours playing games in a row, you have more power.
The Events tab
By default, the main Xbox screen contains an Events line item, which lets you quickly know if any live service games are running. Currently my Events tab shows details about events for Marvel’s Avengers, Ark: Survival Evolvedand Lot 2– two of which I’ve never played on Xbox. (Mine avengers account is on PlayStation; I’ve never touched Ark.) So it’s obviously not always relevant. But also, if you’re a regular service game player, you’ll probably learn about what’s happening through official social channels, news sources, or in-game.
Xbox Assist is a built-in encyclopedia of frequently asked questions, tips, and other system-level guides. For example, if you open the Troubleshooter menu, you’ll see a walkthrough that tells you how to launch a game that you’re having trouble launching, replete with an option to check the status of Xbox’s online services. But you can’t keep these guides open at the same time as the part of the Xbox you’re having the problem with, meaning you’ll have to memorize the advice or juggle between two apps. Plus, we all know the one place people go for easy answers: Google. It is much easier to have all this information at hand from Xbox Support Page in a web browser.