Microsoft has announced a new system to combat the ever-dwindling pool of unique Xbox Gamertags. As of yesterday, players can register any name but will have a numerical identifier after their name, much like Discord or Blizzard's BattleNet on PC.
The suffix with numbers will be hidden away in most games, with Microsoft using a different, lighter font to put the focus on the original username (WinBuzzer#1023). However, it's worth noting that games that don't currently support this feature will show the numbers in the regular font with no suffix (WinBuzzer1023).
Numbers being appended so obviously to the name in “many games and apps” may be a turn off for some. In fact, players may have to wait over a year for the majority of titles to be supported.
“A few games released this year might support the new format, but most games won't until 2020 and beyond. It may take a few years to migrate all new games over to the new gamertag format,” reads a support article.
Microsoft is also switching to a 12-character maximum but offering 11 alphabets for support for over 200 languages. Due to the new system, all players will get a free name change but must pay $9.99 to change it after that. Their previous username will also be available for others to steal, so it's worth thinking it over.
Existing usernames will not have a suffix appended to them. This means rare three-letter Gamertags or common first names will still have a status attached to them. In general, this system could make it slightly less clear who's who but will allow much more freedom going forward.
You can change your Gamertag for free right here.