The Even Newer Xbox Experience launched on Tuesday, and with it came the new Avatar Marketplace. In the new marketplace, you can purchase clothing and accessories for your little digital representation. This may sound like a great idea until you see some of the prices you will be asked to pay for certain things. A dollar is not much to spend on a Halo 3 themed shirt for your avatar, but $5 to dress as a clone trooper? Ouch!
This all started with gamerpics and themes. There were free options, but if you wanted to be different, you had to buy a picture pack. A lot of people complained, and a lot of people bought packs, myself included. Now that Microsoft has essentially killed the gamerpic with the avatars, another source of revenue has replaced it.
Now, I’m not here to tell you how to spend your hard earned Microsoft Space Bucks. I am here to attempt to lay out one side of this debate in the hopes of spurring an intelligent discussion on the subject.
Personally, I think the Avatar clothing options are a nice addition. They give you more options to customize your virtual self and stand out in the crowd. If you’re a fan of games like Halo 3, Bioshock, or Fable 2, you can totally pimp your digital dude in shirts and pants that reflect that. It also seems perfectly reasonable to expect to pay for something like that. Where the rub comes in is when you’re asked to pay more than a dollar to essentially advertise for your favorite game or property.
For example, the Clone Trooper outfit will cost you 400 MSP, or $5. Add to that the Star Wars Lightsaber, which is also 400 MSP, and you’ve just spent the equivalent of the one of the latest XBLA games, Turtles in Time. Dressing your little binary buddy in Gears of War garb or Halo 3 armor will cost you nearly as much. Imagine when EA and Activision start adding their own items to the marketplace.
The issue as I see it comes from where we are starting. Shirts are 80 MSP ($1) now, but where does it go after that? Winter clothing is already on the store and going for 160 MSP. Props start out at 160 MSP and just go up from there. Last time I checked, a Rock Band track costs 160MSP. If the steady rise of XBLA pricing has taught us anything, it’s that prices will only increase.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my avatar, and I like the idea of dressing up my digital doll in some cool gear. My concern is that I’m already paying for Xbox Live. I’m already seeing ads. Now I’m expected to dress my avatar in virtual clothing that they’re charging a relatively high price for. There are obviously free options, and those are the ones I will use.
Personally, I want to spend my points on games. If you want to spend yours on pixelated pants, then more power to you.