Microsoft’s new Xbox Live Avatars are impressively diverse and customizable – The Verge

Microsoft is preparing to launch a big overhaul of its Xbox Live Avatars system. Originally released as an Xbox 360 feature in 2008, Xbox Live Avatars have been slowly tweaked to include more props and customizability ever since. Microsoft is now introducing a new avatar system that’s designed to make these Xbox avatars a lot more customizable, with a huge focus on diversity.

The new avatars will let you fully customize your online character with new body type options, clothing, and props. During the Xbox daily briefing at E3 yesterday, Microsoft demonstrated the new avatar system with a trailer (above) and some behind-the-scenes footage of how the company is building the new Xbox Live Avatars. Microsoft’s trailer shows an amputee, playful costumes, wheelchairs, skateboards, and even motorbikes to demonstrate the wide array of props and customization. There’s even a new pregnancy option, and the ability to control the colors of an avatar with a picker system.

“We built these from the ground-up, they’re being built in Unity which is a whole new engine,” explains Bryan Saftler, a lead product manager at Xbox. “Avatars are meant for whatever you want your digital self to represent. We don’t want to put you in a box, there are no more checkboxes, no matter what you think you look like or what you want to present online.”

Microsoft’s focus on diversity also means that if you want to wear a dress on your avatar you can thanks to gender-neutral clothing and props. “If you can see it in the store you can wear it, we’re not holding you to any type of checkboxes,” says Kathryn Storm, interaction designer at Xbox.

It looks like Microsoft has done a really good job with these new avatars. The software maker is now planning to release what it calls its “Avatar 2.0” system to Windows 10 users first later this year, with the Xbox family of devices to follow.


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