The Xbox 360 Spring update came with a great new feature in the form of instant messaging. Problem is, a number of factors have combined to piss off a lot of paying Xbox Live users:
- If you were under 18 when you created your Xbox Live account (and in some cases, a bug for even if you were over 18, since one guy is 49), your account is created as a “Child Account”.
- The Windows Live Messenger feature cannot be used by Child Account.
- If you created the Child Account at 17, and are now 18 or 19, there is absolutely no means for changing your account to an Adult Account.
So, if you were honest and gave your real age, and that age was under 18 at the time, you can’t use the most prominent feature of the update, and you have no means of showing that you are now over 18. Worse, why did Microsoft block this in the first place? Many Live Messenger users on the PC are under 18, since the Terms of Service only require you to be 13, so why block it on the Xbox?
Microsoft seemed to have forgotten that a significant percentage of gamers are these kids, especially on Xbox Live (have you ever heard them talking? Oy), and left out a huge portion of its userbase. Telling teenagers they can’t instant message is like telling an old person they can’t complain about society; it just doesn’t work. Microsoft’s Trixie has said they are working on a fix for the Fall update, but that’s pissing off a lot of kids (who, in case you haven’t heard, aren’t very patient).
What options do you have now? Basically none. You’d have to create a new Xbox Live account, which would cost you all your Gamerscore, and you’d have to pay the subscription for Xbox Live Gold all over again (if you have one). Microsoft didn’t test the Child Account feature properly, and didn’t consider IM usage by teens to be important, and definitely screwed the pooch on this one.