previews\ May 14, 2003 at 8:00 pm

XSN Sports - XB - Preview

E3 2003 –First Look


Xbox Live is quickly proving itself to be the Swiss Army knife of gaming peripherals.  The vision Microsoft had when it designed the Xbox specifically for the internet generation is quickly becoming apparent.  Designed from the onset to connect gamers in a social environment, Xbox Live keeps finding more and more uses.  The latest addition to this multi-purpose Xbox addition is XSN, a utility that melds fantasy sports statistics with sports video games competition. 


Say you’re playing a sports game with your buddy on-line and the competition gets heated.  You talk a little trash, the game is close, but you pull out the narrow victory.  After the game is finished, the stats and results are merely a fading memory, and all your glory is lost.  You both face other competition, similar results occur, and the memories of those games fade away as well.  It’s a bit disappointing as you’d love to be able to see these games actually count for something more than momentary bragging rights. 


Now imagine playing the above games so they actually did matter, such as in a league or a tournament.  Maybe you lost to your friend, but you know you can beat him next time, or you beat the best player amongst your friends and would love everyone to know.  The people at Microsoft have found a way to make this real, and its ingeniousness is going to blow away fans of both sports video games and traditional fantasy sports. 


The solution is XSN, the new division of Microsoft Sports.  Think of XSN as a chapter of Xbox Live.  Integrating this year’s upcoming Microsoft sports titles, gamers will be able to compete in leagues of their choosing, with updates on an website every five minutes.  Each webpage will show league news, league standings, and league posts with very little effort from league participants and the league commissioner.  Most participants will just have to show up and play their games. 


The depth of XSN is simply incredible.  Facing an opponent for the second time in a season?  Simply click on the results of your last game and see the stats of that game.  Did he pass the ball a lot or run the ball towards victory?  Did he shoot from long range or rely on defense only to see himself defeated?  All these stats can be pulled up with the simple click of a button to help you scout opponents to gain an advantage.  League leaders and team stats will also be available for stat-whores.


Leagues are equally deep and incredibly customizable.  They can be public, private, and even open only to winners of other leagues for stiff competition.  Competitors can number 8, 16, 24, or 32.  The commissioner can designate the league to run the full grueling season or an abbreviated season.  Commissioners can even combine sports in leagues to determine the best players across sports genres.  The first version will unfortunately not include the ability to incorporate fantasy drafts or common free agent pools. 


Because XSN is integrated with MSN Passport, league notifications can be relayed to participants by e-mail, instant messaging, and even cell-phones.  Sweet technology!


Among the games that will be XSN compatible are NHL Rivals 2004, Amped 2, NBA Inside Drive 2004, TopSpin (the latest tennis title), Links 2004, and NFL Fever 2004, whose launch coincides with the inception of XSN. 


XSN requires an Xbox, Xbox Live, and an XSN sports title.  XSN is initially a free service, and is set to launch in August. 

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