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Why Did Social Media Fail On Xbox Live?

by Matt Helgeson on Oct 19, 2012 at 01:00 PM

Microsoft is retiring the Facebook and Twitter apps on Xbox Live. The popular social networks have conquered the Internet -- so why did they fall flat on Microsoft's online gaming service?

Microsoft hasn't been forthcoming about the reasons for taking Facebook and Twitter off of Xbox Live -- only telling IGN that it was in the interest of "streamlining" app functionality on the service. Let's make a safe assumption: if the apps were popular and used by Xbox Live members, they'd still be up. No one is talking about taking Netflix down to "streamline" Xbox Live. At present, you'll be able to access Twitter and Facebook using Microsoft's Internet Explorer app on Xbox Live.

On the surface, it seems odd that such popular service which, for many, serve as a central connection to their friends and family, met with so little success on Xbox Live. However, I can't say that I'm surprised.

Speaking personally, I never downloaded the Facebook or Twitter app to my Xbox 360, even though I'm a frequent user of both services on my home computer [Note: never my work computer, in case Andy or Reiner is reading this] and Android phone. Between Facebook, Twitter, instant messages, text messages, message boards, and email, I'm not lacking for ways to digitally connect with my friends and online acquaintances.

If anything, I view my time playing games as an sanctuary where I can fully engage in a virtual world, far from the social media static that seems to pervade our lives today. I don't turn on my 46-inch HDTV to send a tweet -- by the time the Xbox 360 boots up, I could have sent the tweet from my phone.

The idea of receiving a constant stream of distracting updates and messages on my Xbox didn't appeal to me in the least. I want to devote all my attention to the game I'm playing, and social media just serves to pull me out of the game. While I love all the media functionality that's been added to Xbox Live -- Netflix is a great example of this -- game console are first and foremost for playing games. Social media isn't necessarily bad, but it has its time and place -- and that's not on my television.