Microsoft follows Battle.net and Discord's lead, lets gamers choose any Xbox gamertag they want

You can use any Xbox Live gamertag you want now, even if it's already being used, if you don't mind a numerical identifier after it.

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The most frustrating phrase in the English language is “That username is in use.” Some good news then: You’ll no longer see it on Microsoft’s Xbox platform. Starting today, Xbox Live gamertags will work the same way as Battle.net and Discord, assigning a random numeric ID to duplicate handles after a hashtag, i.e. PCWorld#0001.

Well, almost the same as Battle.net and Discord. Microsoft did say games are currently required to show the numeric ID, even if it’s in a different typeface or lower-contrast color. That’s a slight change from the other two, who only show your numeric ID in specific circumstances, usually when you look at someone’s profile or a long list of users.

But still, it’s a start. Xbox Live is 15 years old at this point, and ties into Microsoft’s first-party PC games as well these days. The namespace is incredibly crowded.

Those who are fine with their current username—or who stumble on some unique combination nobody’s taken before—won’t have any numeric identifier, to signify they’re the first of their name. Me? I registered my preferred gamertag as an Xbox Live Silver account back in the day, then lost access to that email and console and had to settle for second-best, so I plan to change.

I’m sure your own tale is less sad. Perhaps you just want to be “VapeKing420” or whatever, and as long as you’re happy to settle for “VapeKing420#1234” that should now be possible. Microsoft’s also added 10 new alphabets, including Hiragana and Katakana, Cyrillic, and Bengali, which should add quite a few brand new options before the namespace gets crowded again.

Smart changes, and necessary ones for a service this old and established. I’ve always thought Battle.net’s username method was genius, so it’s cool to see it percolating through other services I use as well—especially with Xbox Live increasingly embedded in PC gaming.

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