Xbox Live will now allow players to choose any Gamertag they want and make additional changes to that Gamertag for a nominal fee. Previously, Gamertags on Xbox Live were limited: players couldn't use the same name as another player, and many names with international characters were not allowed on the system.
The proliferation of players on Xbox Live means that Gamertags are now harder to come up with. With the sandbox so crowded, so many players will inevitably attempt to choose the same names and get the dreaded message: "That username is already taken." For players who want names in their native languages, with characters not generally recognized in the English language, creating a Gamertag becomes even more difficult. The Xbox Live service is also expanding to mobile, and Switch users will soon have access to Xbox Live. This means that unique Gamertags will become even more impossible to come up with.
At Xbox's E3 2019, the company announced that it is expanding the way players can choose Gamertags and will finally allow players to select any Gamertag they want: if they choose one that is already in use, a series of numbers get added to the end of it to allow them to use that name. Microsoft will allow up to 12 characters for each Gamertag and now offers a choice of 11 different alphabets for players to choose from, allowing players a chance to use international characters. Players get one name change for free, but each additional change will cost $9.99. Players who want to keep their existing names, though, can do so. Players can learn more about the new Gamertag system on the Xbox FAQ page.
The Gamertag change is one of the many announcements that gave Microsoft a good showing at E3, which also included the first details about Microsoft's next-generation console, the Xbox Scarlett. However, the company nearly overshadowed itself when it brought Keanu Reeves onstage to introduce CD Projekt Red's new trailer for Cyberpunk 2077, a title with a character portrayed by the actor. Reeves' appearance at the Microsoft conference is probably the most memorable moment of the 2019 event.
The change in Gamertags, though, is still an important one. Gaming platforms such as Steam, Discord and Battle.net have used a similar system for years. Microsoft finally realized that its users need more choices when it comes to their Gamertags on Xbox Live, especially for those players whose native language isn't English.