Yesterday, Microsoft announced that group chat, which was previously only available to Xbox Live Gold members, will soon be free for all Xbox gamers. The company revealed the news in a cheep with phrases like “Alpha”, “Alpha Skip-Ahead” and “Flighting”. Meanwhile, a attached blog post presented a series of numbers: 2104-210323-0000. What the hell does all that mean?
The short version is that it’s all a bunch of references to the Xbox Insider Program, which allows Xbox users to try out upcoming features before they are available to the general population. Earlier this month, for example, the program allowed Some members suspend games while other games are downloading, which can significantly increase the download speed. In some cases, members can even preview upcoming games.
Thats not all. In January, Microsoft Announced (as part of a sea change to a proposed Xbox Live rate hike) that sometime this year the Xbox Live Gold membership will no longer be required to play free games, reversing a precedent of years.
This latest release from Xbox Insider starts the ball rolling, lifting that restriction for players at the Alpha and “Alpha Skip-Ahead” tiers of the show. Beta and lower level members will be able to play too soon Fortnite, a free game, without paying money for a monthly subscription to Xbox Live Gold. Microsoft has yet to say when that change will be rolled out to the overall player base.
Ok, I like it. How do I sign up?
Easy: turn on your Xbox. Go to the shop. Open the search function and check “inside information”. Download the Xbox Insider Bundle app, launch it, and then click the “join” button. (It’s the only one). That’s it. You are in!
So how does this work?
Xbox Insider offers benefits based on a tier system. There are five levels, three of which you can actually reach:
- Omega – This is the starting level. You’ll get updates just before they go live to the general playerbase, still with early access, but without the bragging rights and shiny VIP veneer.
- Delta: Once you have been a part of the program for at least one month, you will be eligible to reach Delta level, provided you have also reached Xbox Insider XP level two. (Yes, like a video game, Xbox Insider has levels. I agree. is annoying.) You’re guaranteed to get updates before the general player base. In some cases, when updates require additional testing, you may get it earlier than people at Alpha and Beta levels. Luxurious.
- Beta: If you have been in the Xbox Insider program for three months and have reached level five, you will be eligible for the Beta level. These people get access to updates shortly after Alpha level.
The Alpha and Ultra Exclusive Skip-Ahead Alpha levels are for guests only. Don’t worry about those.
You won’t automatically jump between levels when you unlock them. Once you have reached a new level, go to the “Previews” tab, click “Xbox update preview”, open the “information” submenu, and click “Manage”. That should show a list of all the levels you have unlocked. (Side note: this method is also how you can opt out of the program. Just follow those steps and click “preview”).
One more thing: you don’t have to start from scratch if you change consoles. How Xbox save data, Xbox Insider Status will follow your account. Once you open the application on your new machine, you will have access to everything you had access to on your old machine.
Why wouldn’t it level up automatically?
Flaunted tiers offer early access to new features, which is great, but those features have generally undergone less testing at the time and are therefore at a higher risk of bugs. By giving you the option to change levels, you will have control over your risk of encountering errors or experiencing Xbox features in an unfinished state.
How do I go up a level?
In the Xbox Insider app, navigate to the “Activities” tab. You will see a series of short surveys, each of which will give you a piece of XP to answer multiple-choice questions. One such activity is the “weekly pulse,” which requires responding to a serious brain whirl. This week? “When was the last time you filed a bug report?” That’s an easy 5 XP.
You even get experience points for completing the tutorial, which is called, I don’t shit, “My First Quest.” It consists of two questions. You will get 10 XP for sitting down, a task that will take you 17 seconds.
It takes 20 XP to reach level two. Delta Range, here I come!
Yes, yes, good for you. How much is it going to cost me?
Zero dollars. Come on, you’re essentially testing product updates for Microsoft, and that’s not to mention the sheer data that you are submitting with each completed questionnaire. In any case, you should be getting paid out.