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E3: XBL gets Avatar Marketplace, updates

Performance tweaks, user ratings and Avatar props coming to XBL

Microsoft's revealed a host of new updates coming to Xbox Live, via a stealthy press release sent out after last night's big press conference.

In a letter from Xbox Live boss Marc Whitten, it's revealed that performance tweaks, an Avatar Marketplace and user ratings for Xbox Live content are all coming to the 360 online service.

"We're excited about all the innovations we unveiled today, and I want to share some of the new gaming and community features coming to Xbox Live this fall," he said.

And those include:

  • "Avatar Marketplace. Since the launch of NXE, millions of Avatars have been created on Xbox LIVE, giving our members a whole new way to express themselves online, in games, and in their social experiences. Starting this summer, you will see some great new ways to make your Avatar truly your own. First, we heard loud and clear from you that you wanted to get new avatar items as awards when playing games, and I'm happy to announce support for in-game Avatar Awardables. Second, you're going to see some great new options with animated Props and full costumes to add to your Avatar. Finally, we're continuing that spirit of customization and self-expression with a virtual closet full of premium clothing and interactive props to download and purchase for your Avatar. Whether its game-inspired gear or the latest fashion trends, there will be creative options for everyone to enjoy. You'll also be able to easily access the new Avatar Marketplace directly through the Avatar editor.
  • "User Ratings. We're adding a five star rating system that lets you easily rate any content in the Games Marketplace. Now you'll be able to show your support for your favorite games and Game Add-ons on Xbox LIVE and also quickly organize by user rating to find the community's favorite content. This has been one of your most-requested features, and we're very happy to bring it to you this summer.

  • "Performance Updates. We know that the details also matter. That's why we're making a series of updates based on your feedback. First and foremost, the entire Xbox LIVE service is being upgraded for improved performance including better guide and friends access. Some other things we've done based on your feedback include revamping the friends sorting list, Achievement views and improving our matchmaking support. There's always room to improve, and your input really matters to keep it coming!"

Microsoft also revealed the Xbox Live Games on Demand service, as well as the relaunched Video Marketplace.