XBOX Live Updates Gamertag System

XBOX Live is updating its gamertag system to support additional languages and to allow users to change existing gamertags (something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile). The first gamertag name change is free for existing subscribers, but subsequent changes will cost $9.99 (presumably to prevent people from automating the system for fraud and impersonation purposes).

We are updating our gamertag to a 12-character maximum, Unicode-based name of your choice with an auto-generated suffix. We now offer 13 different alphabets for gamers, which support over 200 languages worldwide.

Existing gamertags will remain unchanged with no suffix and no action required unless the player wants to make a change.

New Xbox players or players who want to change are allowed to register a gamertag of their choice, up to 12 characters. If it’s already taken by someone else, we will assign a suffix with numbers to differentiate you from other people with the same name. We will also auto-format the gamertag to show the suffix subtly in a different font so focus will be on the name you chose but the suffix will always be shown. If you want to change your gamertag using these updates, your first change is free, but every subsequent change will cost the same amount we currently charge for a gamertag change ($9.99 in the U.S.).

Xbox Live Hoaxes

Microsoft is warning people about a hoax that promises people free Xbox Live points if they call up Microsoft and wish the company a happy birthday—the company was founded on April 4, 1975.

Of course there’s a much more common hoax involving Xbox Live. In this hoax, unscrupulous retailers in cahoots with a company with a history of legal problems attempts to sell Xbox owners a completely useless service, claiming it will enhance their Xbox experience.

Typically, the scammers call this service Xbox Live Gold. Often it will come sold even in supermarkets (presumably unaware that Xbox Live Gold’s services are a hoax) on scratch-off cards that look like this.

Xbox Live Gold

It is a shame that Microsoft doesn’t do more to alert consumers that Xbox Live Gold is just another ripoff too.

Microsoft’s Shady Practices on XBOX Live Subscriptions

Gamasutra has the details on a class action lawsuit against Microsoft over its shady XBOX Live subscription billing practices,

Graves explains that in his own particular case, he let his Xbox Live subscription expire by declining to update his credit card information; when he renewed his account several months later with a new credit card, Microsoft charged him for both a new subscription and the subscription that had previously expired.

According to the court filing, Microsoft told Graves that the issue was “not a mistake,” and said he would receive two years of Xbox Live service, as the charges covered both his manual service renewal, and his pending automatic renewal from the previous subscription.

Microsoft did something like this to me last year, though not quite as bad as this guy. My XBOX Live membership was set to expire in a month. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t want them to bill my credit card, so I bought an XBOX Live subscription card, entered the code and extended my membership. And a month later, despite the fact that my subscription had 6 months to go before expriing, they billed my credit card for the renewal, and just added the time to the length of my subscription.

Stupid f—s. I canceled the card I had on file with them (there’s no way to remove all credit cards, as far as I could tell) and refuse to ever again give them anything but a temporary credit card number.