XSN Sports – XB – Preview

E3 2003 –First


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 XSN.com 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


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


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


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.