Xbox Live to get Mii-a-like ‘avatar’ system

Microsoft have already made a few attempts to present the Xbox 360 as being a ‘family’ console and by-and-large these have been unsuccessful.

Sure, Viva Piñata sold a few copies, but it didn’t really shift any hardware. Scene-It (Microsoft’s answer to Buzz!) was essentially a flop, and it doesn’t look like Banjo 3’s new kiddie-friendly approach will pull in any new fans. So Microsoft have looked to the most successful console-manufacturer of all time, Nintendo, for some inspiration.

The information concerning Microsoft’s proposed ‘avatar’ system was apparently leaked from an independent survey conducting research for Microsoft and Activision (among others.) The survey reportedly contained the below picture and the following statement:
“’Avatars’ are digital personas available this holiday for all Xbox LIVE connected members and this spring for all new console owners. ‘Avatars’ will be used in place of the gamer picture you have today and give you a much more lifelike, animated and fully customisable persona for you to reflect who you are online.”

Some of the marketing material also mentioned that just as Mii’s pop their heads up in many Wii games, Avatars would be implemented into “various arcade and retail games” as playable characters. Also mentioned are “hundreds of clothing options”, and it wouldn’t be a great leap of logic to suggest that you’ll have the option of buying more outfits for your avatar.

So are you intrigued by this marriage of the customisation options of Sony’s Home and the functionality of Nintendo’s Mii system? Or is Microsoft just making a laughable attempt to muscle in on the Wii and PS3’s market share? Feel free to share your views in the comments below.

One thing’s for sure – if this Avatar service isn’t optional then a lot of people who paid money to buy new gamerpics are going to be left feeling a little short-changed…