Microsoft’s Xbox Live Sees 2 Million Facebook Users in First Week — What’s Next?

Microsoft put out a press release yesterday touting the success of its Xbox Live console gaming network, and the company included some stats about its new integration with Facebook and other web services. In the week since Facebook became available, more than 2 million of Xbox Live’s 20 million “Active Members” have signed on to it.

That’s ten percent of the total active user base, although it’s not clear what Microsoft’s definition of “active” is in this case (we assume monthly active users). Certainly, it was a solid first week.

But nearly a third of the United States is on Facebook, and the site sees similar penetration in Canada and many parts of the world, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft continues to see more users sign on — especially as Microsoft integrates Facebook more closely with the rest of Xbox Live.

Right now, only Xbox users that have paid for its “Gold” membership have access to Facebook. As we’ve noted before: “The people they want to attract – the more casual crowd – are not going to pay for a Gold account when they can get the same social networks for free on the computer. At the very least, Facebook and Twitter need to be made available for the free Silver account….”

Also, right now, you can just do the basic things you do on Facebook, but within a specialized Xbox interface. The service, which also integrates with Twitter and music service, seems more designed around bringing simple web features to your television. You can’t, say, play FarmVille on your big-screen television. Microsoft should at least test out offering social games on Facebook from within Xbox Live.

How Social?

More importantly, as we and others have also noted, it should also make Facebook chat, status updates, and other social features more directly tied in to the games that people are playing on their consoles. As Wired recently wrote: “[The usefulness of consoles] to gamers doesn’t spawn from the ability to learn in real time that your best friend’s wife is psyched to see New Moon. Social networking on game consoles must make it easier to find and connect friends to game with.” Social communication about games is exactly what made social games popular on Facebook in the first place.

Xbox has a big opportunity to provide these services to gamers, and to game developers. Imagine Xbox making it really easy to post to your wall and your friends’ news feeds that you just accomplished a mission or got a new high score in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Or what about inviting your Facebook friends who are also on Xbox to come play a game with you? As the Wired article concluded:

Twitter and Facebook are valuable organization tools for making play dates, rallying troops for clan practice or recruiting friends for co-op. And without the ability to use these services while a game is in progress, you still have to keep your iPhone or netbook open on the coffee table if you want to ping your friends during gameplay. That’s not convergence. It’s clutter.

So while Microsoft’s 2 million milestone is impressive, the real story will be what Microsoft and other console-makers do next.

Final note: For those of you looking at AppData or the Xbox Live Facebook canvas page and seeing only 44,000 monthly active users, that’s because these numbers only show users interacting with the canvas app, not the console integration, according to Facebook.

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