Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb announced that select members of the Xbox Insider Program will soon be able to add their own gamerpics, customize their Club's appearance, and participate in World of Tanks tournaments powered by the rather descriptively named "Arena on Xbox Live."
Nelson said in his announcement that the features are part of Microsoft's efforts to keep Xbox players happy. The company has mostly focused on developing new features such as the Beam streaming tool, the all-you-can-play Xbox Game Pass, and the like over the last few months, but now it's responding to feedback collected via, uh, Xbox Feedback, with a smorgasbord of improvements to the existing service for which people have clamored.
Perhaps the most notable improvements are the changes to Xbox profiles. In addition to custom gamerpics, which Nelson said were a "top fan-requested feature," profiles will feature information from Arena for Xbox Live and a "Join broadcast" button to make it easier for you to watch livestreams. You'll also be able to "hide individual posts, pin posts to the top of your feed, and filter posts by friends, games or Clubs" in your profile's Activity Feed.
That emphasis on customization and social features will extend to the service's Clubs. Microsoft will soon let Club owners change their club's logo and background, help Club owners and admins "stand out and manage their community" by labeling them in text posts, and pin posts to the top of their feed. This is all basic social networking stuff--Twitter has let you do most of those things for a while--but it should still be a welcome addition to Xbox Live.
Microsoft will also improve some odds and ends associated with Xbox. You'll be able to filter your game library by platform (Xbox One or Xbox 360) to more easily find what you're looking for. Xbox One will support captive portal internet access so you can use public Wi-Fi, and you'll be allowed to select audio input and output sources for Party chat via the Xbox app for Windows 10. Oh, and you can use Kinect auto-zoom for Twitch, Beam, and Skype.
There's also the tournaments via Arena for Xbox Live. As Nelson said in his announcement, the feature will let you:
Discover tournaments from your Xbox One or Xbox app on Windows 10, get notifications when your match is ready, jump directly into your match on the Xbox One, enjoy automatic results reporting, and show off the results on your activity feed.
You can find a full list of other changes in Nelson's announcement. The improvements are expected to roll out to some Xbox Insiders throughout March. Nelson said the custom gamerpics and Club logos and backgrounds in particular will "be in preview longer than other features to ensure [they're] great for everyone when released." (Read: Microsoft doesn't want people to post a bunch of dongs or other inappropriate pics to its not-quite-social-network.)
Nelson didn't say when these features might reach other Xbox players.