Xbox Avatar Wheelchair Option Coming Alongside Improved Visuals

Microsoft's avatar feature debuted in 2008.


Microsoft is adding a new feature to its Xbox avatar system.

Writing on Twitter, Xbox engineering lead Mike Ybarra revealed images of a new wheelchair option. His shared the pictures in response to a comment from Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley, who wondered publicly how technically difficult it would be to add wheelchairs.

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Someone responded by saying he should start a petition, and that's when Xbox boss Phil Spencer jumped in to say a petition would not be necessary.

"No petition needed, we hear you," he said. "This is something that we've already looked at, not far off."

Microsoft job ads spotted in January 2015 revealed the company was hoping to make better-looking and more feature-rich avatars for Xbox One and other devices and platforms. As it happens, the images Ybarra shared do appear to be a step up in terms of visuals.

"As we cross the threshold to a unified operating system and product experience across Microsoft, it is time to for Xbox avatars to also advance to the next level," reads a line from one of the job ads. "Come with us, as we take Xbox avatars on their biggest adventure yet with higher fidelity and a bigger stage in new Xbox experiences."

Microsoft first introduced avatars on Xbox 360 in 2008. The premise is that you can create your own virtual self, complete with a wide variety of hairstyles, clothes, and accessories. Microsoft even sells a range of extra avatar content from the avatar store, including materials from real-world non-gaming brands such as the NFL, My Little Pony, and the United States Armed Forces.

The Xbox One's next major update, Anniversary, comes out later this summer (it's also headed to PC), though it's unclear if the avatar changes are included with it.

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