Published on July 17th, 2013 | by Kieran Mackintosh0
Game in Scotland – XBLGamerHub
On Saturday, March 9th, my colleague Martin and I went together to do press coverage at Game in Scotland, an annual Scottish event where established local video game developers present and pitch themselves to the public. We interviewed four developers, all from different industry professions, perspectives and disciplines. We made impressions, shook hands and even had a laugh too.
At the end of the day my colleague Martin thought we had done enough (because it was getting late), but I thought we could squeeze in one more. We ventured upstairs and walked up to XBLGamerHub, who we notified earlier that we’d like to interview them. Gavin Divers (Founder and Director of XBLGamerHub) took time to speak to us.
I pretty much went straight into the swing of things for the start of this interview, and asked Divers what XBLGamerHub was and what the company did, which he dutifully responded in kind.
As it turns out, the Hub is an Xbox social network, which is basically a community for Xbox gamers. They are even affiliated with Xbox under the Xbox Community Network, which is a collection of the biggest Xbox communities in he UK put together. Their aim is to try to bring gamers what they want in today’s gaming world, which – in their eyes – is friendly and competitive online gaming.
The Hub gives gamers a platform to organise their own gaming, a place to move away from matchmaking and play with friends. It’s a community where gamers can get know and interact with one another, and a place where tournaments and competitions are had.
“We’re basically just a community for gamers, trying to bring gamers what they want in the world of gaming today, and that is online gaming,” Divers told us. “We’re giving people a platform, and, you know, moving away from the random world of matchmaking. It’s all what online gaming is: playing with random people.”
Divers continued to say that they’re essentially trying to be a one-stop-shop for everything gaming, providing its members with video content, written content, tournaments, competitions, etc. Divers told us that he found it “fantastic” how they’ve manage to accumulate an ever-expanding community. Divers believes that XBLGamerHub has touched on what gamers want.
“We are just there to appease every type of gamer. If you want to be that type of gamer that comes to read news, or you want to watch videos, or do you want to meet each other, or do you want to get involved gaming, or tournaments, or you want to host your own games…it’s really for every type of gamer you can image,” Divers said.
When we first came to the Hub, when looking for people to interview, me and Martin both noticed that they had promotional items at their booth. I asked Divers if he could further expand on that.
“Well, we’re a mouth piece for the gaming industry, and also, you know, we look at whatever games are out, and whatever gamers are playing we make sure that there’s content to make them happy: giveaways, tournaments, and stuff like that.
So, what we do is look at each individual multiplayer game and really crank open the multiplayer aspect of it. For example, the new one we’re doing now is a ‘Hitman’ tournament. So, we looked at the new ‘Hitman’ game: what’s the multiplayer feature? What’s the feature that we can do a competition with?”
Divers went on the explain how Hitman: Absolution’s contract system works; how that players can compete with friends and dispatch each other in the most unique way to get the highest payoff and fulfil their contract. He then went on to detail some of the specifics of how the tournament worked.
“So, our new tournament is a three-round, three-contract tournament. It’s a knock-out tournamemt. So, it’s a custom made contract that we made, and we’re able to send it to the gamers. They’ll play the game and the X amount of people will go to the next round.”
Divers then said that the tournament was free to enter and free to play, and that players were able to win prizes. To elaborate, the prizes (or promotional items) for these tournaments are usually donated to them by Xbox or Xbox developers, which sometimes include signed copies of games and limited editions of games, to name a few – they have got quite a variety of prizes to give away. He also listed a few examples of what participants could win:
“So, we’ve been donated prizes from Xbox. We’ve got official ‘Hitman’ ties and official ‘Hitman’ figures, and Square Enix (the creator of the game) donated two copies of the ‘Hitman HD Trilogy Collection’ games, two of them to giveaway.“
Wanting to turn the topic of conversation to the XBLGamerHub website itself, I asked Divers if the site required payment from its members or if there was any payment element within the site, or if people could just sign up to the site for free. Divers said there would never be any payment requirements whatsoever. He reassured us that site is free to do whatever its members want.
“It’s not something for gamers to put their hands in their pockets. It’s to give them the tools to do what they already should be doing.”
Martin chimed in and asked (even though it was for Xbox) if the Hub might plan to branch out to other platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4. I added to this question with mobile devices. Divers told us that it was too soon to say if the Hub might branch out to other consoles. He did, however, end with “you never know,” so the possibility is there.
To wrap up the interview, I asked for more detail on the competitions that the Hub hosts. Divers responded with that the Hub has a variety of different competitions. They do regular giveaways on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and members don’t have to pay for anything: just share, like or comment.
As for the competitions, Divers went on to say that the competitions are normally based around something similar to the giveaways, and they don’t ask for much from members. He then added that the Hub’s tournaments are more plain, that it would be the gamer just putting their game in and going head-to-head with other players from the site.
Having the interview with Gavin Divers was quite a quick experience – like I said earlier, it was getting late – but it was a likeable one nonetheless. I like how the Hub is focused on getting gamers together and giving them a community in which to have fun and get to know each other and play games. It’s a decent concept, and I think it’s a charming idea where gamers can interact and be part of an expanding community instead of meeting random gamers over matchmaking.
True enough, the same principle can be derived from playing over matchmaking anyway, but it may occur on a much smaller scale and perhaps over a longer period of time. It may even be just a bunch of gamers who have a small group of their own to game with – whom some of which may have met over matchmaking – and over time that group could expand to form their own community. If their comfortable with that, that’s fine.
However, with the Hub already well established, interested gamers can aggregate to XBLGamerHub and be part of a community instead of just interacting with randoms over matchmaking and attempting making a community of their own – though that’s okay, too. Maybe that small gamer group would like to interact with others of their kin and be part of a larger community and not bother with the hassle of trying to befriend people that may not fit their dynamic.
There will still be a hassle of finding friends regardless, but finding friends under a controlled, forum/social network environment may be easier than in a match full of silent lone wolves.
I wish XBLGamerHub all the best in their future. I thank Gavin Divers very much for taking his time to speak to me and Martin. Go check them out over at XBLGamerHub, and/or follow them on Twitter (@XBLGAMERHUB) and Facebook.