Pimp My Avatar

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.

Lightsaber avatar

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.

clone trooper

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.

Gemini Aces Avatar

Gemini Ace's Avatar

Personally, I want to spend my points on games. If you want to spend yours on pixelated pants, then more power to you.

  • I will wait it out before I get the much needed giant q-tip for my avatar. Not for nothing but my gaming will still be good, as my avatar does not play my games he just stands there cool looking to represent me and that doesn’t take much to do, hell I don’t even pay for designer or specialty clothes for myself. Now excuse me as I need to turn on my PS3, my avatar over there needs I need a new couch.

  • I’m a fan of this article, and wholeheartedly agree. I started the #AMPSucks tag on Twitter because of thr super-high prices.

    I feel bad because as the industry moves closer to nickel and diming us to death, I’m being pushed further and further from gaming on consoles – and PC gaming is dying a slow death outside of Steam because everyone’s focused on consoles.

    I’m not spending $5 on visuals for an avatar when it does nothing to enhance my in-game experience. $1 or less is where te prices need to be. That’s the price they used in the Original E3 announcement, and I’m not spending one red cent more.

    To be honest, it’s pushing me away from 360 gaming. RRoD last month and now this? One more major problem that goes unchecked and I may just sell it…


  • ZED

    400 MSP for a Light Saber? Come on. I only saw 1 thing at the moment that I like in thge Avatar Marketplace and that’s the guitar. But I don’t want to buy it yet. I want ot know (from someone who actually bought it) if you can customize it. Can I change the colour of it or does it stay the same?

  • I’m interested in the guitar also. I didn’t see any color change options when I looked. That might change once you buy it, but I doubt it.

  • ZED

    I’ll buy the guitar today, cause it looks like a Les Paul (Probably is) and because Les Paul died yesterday.
    So when I get it i’ll get back to you, if there is any customization you can do.

  • This was a really good article! I was just thinking this stuff. I almost bought the cool looking RCA Warthog car for my avatar chick, and one of the shirts that was black with pink crossbones on it, but decided against it because the Warhog was 340ish points all on it’s own.
    As a girl, I was stoked over the new fashions, but dissapointed in the selection. I did see some cool highway man boots, and who wouldn’t want a lightsaber (would be better if you could change the color thou), but I wans’t willing to shell out the dough.
    I kept thinking, ok, when will this all go on clearance? Maybe, just maybe, I can but all the summer arcade games and get some free points I can blow on my little chick. But as you’ve said before, she’s not in the game with me. And most of the stuff doesn’t show up in your gamerpic anyway, so you would have to scroll all thru your friends list on the dashboard just to checkout how they are blowing thier points.
    Good concept, but I agree with Gemini, it’s just all too rich for my blood.

  • Mr. Pollock

    As a old man who played pong so many years ago, I still like to play games. Halo is the best, I get to play when my two kids come over on weekends. This crap of charging for the stuff you use is completely out of line. The prices for games is way to high, If these game makers want to expand the market prices have to come down. This article was well done, smart and informed. Well back to dig dug.

  • In the interests of full disclosure, I caved and bought my avatar a guitar. I justified it because it’s a Les Paul guitar and I love GH and RB.

    Guess I’m part of the problem. 🙂