Multiplayer overview

Multiplayer features in Xbox Live include Multiplayer Session Directory, matchmaking, networking, voice chat, and text chat.

Multiplayer features empower your game to bring Xbox Live players together over the Internet and can dramatically extend the life and usage of a title beyond typical solo play. By building a great multiplayer experience for your audience, you can leverage the large social network of Xbox Live gamers to increase the user base for your game and promote a sustained community of dedicated fans playing together.

What are the Multiplayer features in Xbox Live?

The Xbox Live Multiplayer features are provided as a set of client APIs that you can use to implement real-time multiplayer gameplay.

The major sub-systems in the API suite are:

  • The Xbox Live Multiplayer Session Directory (MPSD) service. The MPSD service works with integrated UI experiences to facilitate users finding and inviting each other for play. Integration with Xbox Live's services also allows customers to use Xbox Live Party Chat to assemble. See Multiplayer Session Directory overview.

  • Simple and advanced matchmaking facilities. Xbox Live provides traditional quickmatch capabilities, but also session browse and support for highly customized matchmaking scenarios. Xbox Live Looking for Group (LFG) also allows players to find each other, rally in Party Chat, and then play your game. See Matchmaking overview.

  • Peer to peer and client-server networking APIs provide secure real-time communication leveraging modern Internet standards and actively monitored by Xbox Live. Standardization and integration with the Xbox Live network troubleshooting experiences allow users to quickly remediate connectivity issues.

  • Integrated voice and text chat solutions that facilitate safe in-game communication leveraging the Xbox Live social graph, media services, and specialized encoding hardware on Xbox One (or later) devices.

For an overview of some of the most common multiplayer scenarios, and which Xbox Live functionality can help implement those scenarios, see Common multiplayer scenarios.

How can I implement Xbox Live Multiplayer in my game?

Depending on your scenario, the Xbox Live Multiplayer features provide several approaches to implementing Xbox Live Multiplayer in your game.

Xbox Integrated Multiplayer (XIM)

XIM is an turnkey solution for adding real-time multiplayer networking and communication to your game through the power of Xbox Live services. The goal of XIM is to make it easier than ever to build high quality peer-to-peer (P2P) multiplayer games on Xbox One (or later) & Windows 10.

XIM provides the following functionality:

  • Support for game invitations and simple matchmaking.
  • A simple and secure real-time network that is transparently augmented by the Xbox Live Multiplayer Relay Service.
  • Simple voice and text chat, with facilities for transcribing and narrating communication for a more accessible end-user experience.
  • Aides for detecting and managing network congestion, as well as for migrating game state.

XIM is the simplest multiplayer solution available through the Xbox Live Multiplayer features, but also the least customizable and is only suited for P2P games. See Xbox Integrated Multiplayer (XIM) overview.

Xbox Multiplayer Manager (MPM)

Xbox Multiplayer Manager (MPM) is a client API that provides flexible access to Xbox Live's multiplayer session directory, invitation, and matchmaking services.

Multiplayer Manager implements many common multiplayer scenarios in an efficient manner that follows best practices, and also handles many of the Xbox Requirements (XRs) that your game must implement in order to pass certification.

Networking or chat

Xbox Multiplayer Manager does not implement a networking or chat layer. MPM is designed as a flexible but simplified and consolidated multiplayer management API for your game paired with a secure networking layer implemented via Windows.Networking.XboxLive.

In-game communication can be added with the Game Chat API or through XIM Chat Reservations.

The networking and Game Chat 2 APIs are documented in the Xbox One XDK and the Xbox Live Platform Extensions SDK.

See Game Chat overview.

Servers and tournaments

If you are hosting dedicated servers for your multiplayer game, Multiplayer Manager (MPM) is the best choice. MPM is also well-suited for advanced scenarios such as integration with Xbox Live Tournaments.

See Multiplayer Manager overview.

Configuring multiplayer

To use Multiplayer Manager, you must configure the Xbox Live service for your multiplayer scenarios. For more information on this configuration, see Configuring the Multiplayer service.

Session browse

Multiplayer Manager does not currently support session browse. See Multiplayer session browse.

API Capabilities

Functionality Xbox Integrated Multiplayer Multiplayer Manager
Visibility XIM is provided as a compiled library without source. MPM is provided with source, so you may customize behavior by directly interacting with Xbox Live services or with XSAPI.
Session and Matchmaking XIM provides simple pre-configured matchmaking rules and does not require multiplayer configuration. MPM requires Configuring the Multiplayer service, which enables sophisticated specification of matchmaking and session behavior.
Networking XIM provides a simple & secure player-to-player network, backed by the Xbox Live Relay service when required. MPM is designed so you can plug in your own secure networking solution using Windows.Networking.XboxLive.
Game chat XIM provides integrated voice and text chat. In-game communication can be implemented with the Game Chat 2 API or by using XIM out-of-band reservations to enable chat for an MPM managed roster.

See also