E3 2008: Avatars go Live on Xbox 360 this fall

Microsoft unveils new avatar feature coming as part of a major system update later in the year.

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After being leaked previously, Microsoft's head of live software and services John Schappert took to the stage during Microsoft's E3 press conference and officially announced that Avatars would be coming to Xbox 360 with a new system update this fall. The major upgrade will see a completely redesigned dashboard complete with new tabs including "Community" and "My Xbox."

Avatars will allow 360 owners to create their own virtual self, complete with an assortment of hairstyles, clothes (including pants, shirts, and hats), and accessories. While Nintendo's Wii had Mii avatars at launch, and Sony's Home avatars have been announced coming to the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 avatars seem to be a balance between the stylised look of Miis, and the more realistically proportioned Home avatars. The currently signed-in account's avatar is displayed next to their gamertag and achievement points in the My Xbox channel.

Schappert then introduced a video from the team at Rare, who explained some of the features of Avatars including a supposed "limitless" amount of new clothes and fashions. The new Community channel will let you to see your online friends' avatars in a virtual space, rather than the list view currently in the Xbox 360 dashboard.

The avatars are coming! The avatars are coming!
The avatars are coming! The avatars are coming!

A new "Live Party" feature will let owners chat and interact with up to eight friends in a party group. In addition, a new photo-sharing option will allow friends to share photos between party members. Xbox Live Arcade titles such as the upcoming Uno Rush will also feature support for Avatars. Avatars will be available when the new system update goes live this fall.

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