When the Xbox One first launched, many fans were left understandably upset by the lack of focus on Xbox avatars. Since then, Microsoft has been hard at work bringing them back to the front line. So much so that we’re soon to get a brand new iteration of them. That’s right, developed in Unity to support cross-platform usability, Xbox avatars have been overhauled and will be replacing the older Xbox avatars, along with more capabilities and support. We’re not sure when they’ll be arriving, but we’re assuming we’ll see them at E3 2018 next week.
These new avatars will allow you to fully customize their appearance; body type, props, clothing and more. They’re also going one step further with support that focuses on diversity; wheelchairs, motorbikes and more. Safe to say, it’s going to be a very exciting time for those, like me, that love wider selection. It’s safe to assume, then, that Microsoft will support the new avatars far beyond what we’re expecting in the long run. Would they really put in this vast amount of time and effort for them to simply be used a profile prop? I don’t think so.
Back on the Xbox 360, few games took advantage of Xbox avatars, 1 vs. 100 to name a single title. While it was indeed fun to bounce and emote your avatar during the short-lived competition-esque game, the inclusion of the avatar was mostly just a novelty. However, now, given the scope and capabilities of the new avatar system, Microsoft has a real chance to step on up and make the most of it. Nintendo did a great job with their Mii system, incorporating a wide use of their user’s avatars. This, would be great to see on Xbox One.
What stands out for me personally, is that of an online community simulation game. Something akin to Animal Crossing. There’s a lot of potential here to create something truly magnificent and long-lasting. If you ask me, games like Animal Crossing (the closest we’re getting is Re:Legend – which looks incredible) are among the best games that you can play when it comes to community engagement. There’s something particularly alluring about the whole foundation, let alone the additions that come along for the ride in games of this type.
Picture each avatar having their own home within their own village. Gardening, home decorating, shopping, trading, fishing, treasure hunting, crops/harvesting and so on and so forth, all being present. Throw in six player online functionality and a steady line of seasonal events, limited time events and general events, along with a healthy selection of cosmetics to feed into the above systems and what’s not to love? There’s a heap of potential there. Furthermore, Microsoft could easily make money back from cosmetic DLC packs alone.
I know that this is just one idea out of a million that are already out there and I appreciate that not everyone will be on board with this idea, but there’s clearly a space on the market for an experience like this. The aforementioned Re:Legend is set to arrive sometime this year, so no doubt that will spark some interest in this concept. Though, in my humble opinion, Microsoft would do well to get their heads together and get something on a plate. It would not only engage their community, but bolster focus on the upcoming new avatars.
I’m not trying to suggest that this hasn’t already been discussed before, but now more than ever, I think discussion surrounding this idea – and ideas like it – should be popping up. I quite like the thought of logging on and joining my friends’ worlds to help out or have some mini-game fun. Games like Animal Crossing will never be topped, but that’s not to say that we cant settle for the next best thing. What about you? Do you like the idea? Hate it? Have any ideas of your own that you would love to see realized? Sound off in the comments below.