Microsoft is doing consumer research surveys about potential additions to the avatar feature of its Xbox Live service and appears to be seriously considering going the virtual goods route, as reported by Kotaku. As of this writing the avatars are customizable, but the items used to do so are all free. In the new Microsoft customer survey, users are asked to answer a variety of questions regarding different ways to obtain more virtual items for their avatars.
The proposed new features for avatar virtual goods outlined in the survey are the option to unlock avatar items by doing particular things in a game (similar to the current Achievements system), the ability to create avatar animations and clothing to share with other users, new types of avatar items like "pets and cars," and the ability to spend Microsoft Points virtual currency on premium avatar items. That is perhaps the most dramatic potential change to the way avatars currently work, as they were launched as a "free is free" service.
There is one question that seems to make it clear why Microsoft is thinking of expanding its range of avatar items and the way it monetizes them. Question J on the survey asks users if they would like "to be able to interact with others via avatars in a 'virtual' social setting." That sounds like the Home service that Sony offers on its competing PlayStation platform. As you've read here in the past, Sony has been releasing some very impressive revenue numbers and user stats for Home. Unlike Microsoft's avatars, Home was focused from its inception on selling virtual goods to consumers.
Statements made by avatar-developers Rare, regarding user-generated items and earning avatar items as Achievement rewards, indicate that the technology for implementing these proposed new features may already be complete. At this point, it seems Microsoft is in the phase where it's trying to figure out what consumers would think of the changes before rolling them out. Hardcore gamers can be notoriously resistant to microtransaction pricing schemes and Microsoft is probably concerned about upsetting the community gathered around Xbox Live (which is already a paid service).
Join us for App Conference – October 18-19, 2012 in Santa Clara
- DHX Media Partners with YouTube on Paid Channels
- DreamWorks, Verizon Team on Million Dollar Turbo Racing League App Promo
- Apple App Store Hits 50 Billion Downloads
- Google Introduces Google Play for Education
- Kids Use iHeart Locket “Smart Necklace” to Connect with Diary App
- Warner Bros. Targets Girls with LEGO Friends for Nintendo
- AppCertain App Monitoring Service Debuts First App
- Rovio to Publish Third Party Titles Under New Rovio Stars Mobile Game Brand
- CPTV Partners with Ruckus Media to Create Digital Platform
- Saban Brands Welcomes Jack Sorensen as President of Mobile Social Games Division
- YouEarnedIt Welcomes New CEO Steve Semelsberger
- Emerging Technology Fund to Receive $50M
- Vista Equity Partners to Acquire Websense, Inc.
- Affinegy Names Frank LaBarbera SVP World Wide Sales and Marketing
- Austin’s tech scene 2001 vs 2011: Fewer workers but healthier ecosystem
- CM First USA to Move to Tech Ranch Austin
- Austin Launching ‘Office of Innovation’; Forum Planned for August
- ProspX Collects $8.2M
- GILA LLC Works with Encryptics on Secure Data Management as a Solution
- HotSchedules Partners with Scoox to Deliver e-Learning Solution
- Attend or Exhibit at Tech Career Expo WWDC
- Only 20 Days to AARP Health Innovation 50+ LivePitch
- AARP Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch Judges Announced
- 4,100 Job Seekers Participate In Sell-Out Tech Career Expo Austin 2013
- Video Walkthrough of the Tech Career Expo Austin
- Engage Digital To Support 2nd Annual AARP Health Innovation@50 + Startup Pitch Event
- Caprese Skewers passed around by the Dell and Pandora Tables at The Tech Career Expo
- Geeks Rule at the Austin Tech Career Expo Next Week
- Get your LinkedIn Profile and Top 3 Skills In Front of 47 Innovative Companies
- Microsoft, General Motors, Mitratech, Myspace, Digby and HostGator.com Join Tech Career Expo Austin Line Up
- Digital Kids Conference Registration Ends Tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 8th
- Tech Career Expo Returns to Austin, March 8-9, for Annual Technology Recruiting Bonanza
- Engage Digital and kidSAFE® Seal Program Launch First Ever Digital Kids Safety Summit
- Digital Kids Conference Emcee Spotlight: Joi Podgorny and Richard Gottlieb
- Introducing KidsWire
- Earlybird Registration Ends Tomorrow! Register Now.
- Tech Career Expo Austin has the Jobs You Need: 1,100 Open Positions Available
- Digital Kids Conference Earlybird Registration Extended to Tuesday, Jan. 15
- Digital Kids Conference Keynote Spotlight: Victor Lee of Hasbro
- Early Bird Registration for Digital Kids Conference Ends Next Week