Xbox has new family settings that lets parents control whether or not their children interact with players from other networks.
In a blog post today (Dec. 6), Dan McCulloch, general manager for Xbox Live, the Microsoft gaming system, said that Fortnite is the first game to have these new features, which are available now. “This includes two new settings parents can turn on or off, which empowers them to allow or block both cross-network play and cross-network communication, on their child’s account,” McCulloch writes. Xbox is the first console to offer such options.
“Cross-network” play or communication refers to interacting with gamers playing on other platforms. Fortnite players on Xbox One can compete or team up with someone playing on Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4, as well as those playing on phones or personal computers. Enabling cross-play is important for companies because users don’t need to switch to other consoles to play with friends.
These capabilities also mean players can interact with a much larger pool of people. For a game like Fortnite, which has almost 80 million monthly players and is hugely popular with kids and teens, this can pose security concerns. Earlier this year, a scam manipulated young Fortnite players to reveal their parents’ bank details. Xbox’s new settings would allow parents to more closely monitor cross-network activities.
“There was demand for this feature,” Henry Ipince, senior program manager at Microsoft who focuses on the family audience, told Quartz. “Naturally, children have friends and they want to play with their friends, and some of those friends are on different networks” he said. Enabling cross-network play is a “positive thing,” Ipince said. Yet is remains important to “create a setting that works for [parents] and their children,”
Xbox intends to roll out the new features to other games based on each title’s update cycle, another Microsoft spokesperson confirmed. In addition to the cross-network settings launched today, Xbox already had different tools available in family settings. They include content filters, setting limits on screen time and in-game purchases, and giving parents access to see their children’s profiles, as well as access to their gaming history. These settings also already offer kids a host of options, including an activity report they can view that details their gaming habits and a system to request permission from their parents to purchase goods or prolong screen time.