Microsoft details Games on Demand, Avatar Marketplace

E3 2009: Over 30 games available at launch, including Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed; games re-downloadable for free on any machine, Halo, Fable, and Gears of War avatar costumes coming.

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LOS ANGELES--On Monday, Microsoft announced a host of new Xbox Live services during its E3 2009 press conference. Today we had a chance to take a closer look at the most important changes coming to the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Soon avatars will get game-themed outfits from Fable and Gears of War.
Soon avatars will get game-themed outfits from Fable and Gears of War.

As reported earlier this week, the Games on Demand feature will let Xbox 360 owners buy and download full games to their consoles using a credit or debit card, as well as Microsoft points. The service will launch with a library of more than 30 titles, including Mass Effect, BioShock, Assassin's Creed, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Today, Microsoft revealed it will be updating the Games on Demand store every week following launch, with prices "comparable" to retail. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga was the only one priced, though, at $19.99.

However, the best part of Games on Demand is that the games players download--around 6GBs per game--will remain playable on any machine that can log in to the account on which the purchase was made. If a 360 gets damaged or lost, players can re-download them again on any machine at any time free of charge. This also applies to Xbox 360 owners who find they don't have enough space on their machines--they will simply be able to delete the downloaded games and re-download them at another time, also free of charge.

Microsoft also went into more detail about the new Avatar Marketplace, which will let 360 owners purchase clothing and interactive props for their avatars. There is a whole range that has been specifically designed with game content, including Halo, Fable II, and Gears of War 2, as well as third-party content, such as Splinter Cell. Owners can purchase T-shirts and caps with logos, as well as props relating to the games--we were shown a remote control Warthog from the Halo games. Microsoft is also working with real clothing labels to design avatar outfits that fit fashion trends, such as steampunk or "street." The cost of these items is about 80 Microsoft points ($1) for a T-shirt and 320 points ($4) for an interactive prop.

Stay tuned for more Microsoft news and updates during GameSpot's ongoing coverage of the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

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