Microsoft is planning to launch an 'Avatar Store' next spring, which will allow gamers to buy branded items for their Avatars, a new feature coming with the release of the New Xbox Experience update on November 19.
Gamers will be able to buy game related items from publishers, like T-shirts, as well as non-game related items, perhaps related to football, Microsoft has revealed.
Robin Burrowes, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) product manager for Xbox LIVE, told VideoGamer.com at a recent hands-on preview event for NXE that it believes the potential is there for fashion brands to launch new clothing ranges through the store, and that gamers will be able to dress their Avatar like a character from a game.
The New Xbox Experience update will allow gamers to create an Avatar, which will become the virtual representation of their 360 gaming self. For launch there will be a raft of free accessories and clothing items, but Microsoft said it has plans for gamers to be able to buy new items, like game-branded T-shirts, and unlock accessories that are related to in-game Achievements, like Guitar Hero guitars.
Burrowes said: "The plan of record will be to launch a more extensive Avatar Store from spring time onwards next year, and that store in theory would have branded content in there, game publisher IP stuff in there as well."
When asked what might be sold through the Avatar Store, Burrowes replied: "There's a whole creative canvas for these things. Due to tight time lines there's nothing at launch as such but our vision for these in the future is well and truly tied to game releases and us working with publishers very closely to encourage rewards from those games to be tied to your Avatar.
"Right now when you express yourself there's certain games where you've won a Gamer Pic within that game. Future versions of things like Guitar Hero or Rock Band or any other music game, if you win that particular Achievement everyone can see it within your friends list."
"Yes, more animations, more customise capabilities in terms of emotions and features but then also as well wardrobe enhancements over the course of time, so fashion brands hopefully launching new ranges through Avatars being one route. Obviously the whole world of Spore, football, etc, lends itself to this environment. Games themselves where you can customise your Avatar like the character from a game as well, these are all possibilities that Avatars will explore over the course of 2009 and beyond, definitely."
Burrowes added that a pricing model for items sold on the Avatar Store is "under discussion right now".
You can check out our hands-on preview of the New Xbox Experience later today.