A Tale Of Two Avatars

With the release of Playstation Home and the New Xbox Experience (NXE) all three consoles now have an avatar system.  While the Wii remains a fairly closed system, both Sony and Microsoft's offerings seem to have plans for tying their avatars in with marketing.

In Playstation Home, there are already a handful of promotional "Resident Evil" 5 T-shirts available to download for free.  It looks like there will be some  additional nifty branded pay content released soon for both "Resident Evil 5" and "Street Fighter IV."  Despite Ken's looking a bit like Owen Wilson, if the $1 million dollars in sales during the first three weeks of Home are any indication, this content is going to sell like hotcakes.

The Xbox 360's NXE was recently  rumored to have some sponsored avatar clothing options in its future.  While initially, it looks like clothing will be unlocked similar to Achievements, I don't doubt that some enterprising game marketers will be including avatar-ware as incentive for pre-sales or DLC pack bonuses.  The big question in the Xbox incarnation is how long until we're seeing branded clothing and accessories similar to the Diesel store in Home.

While it was apparent years ago with the Wii's Miis, people of both genders have a blast customizing and re-customizing avatars - whether they be photo-realistic renderings, bobble-headed shaped caricatures, or sack-puppets.  People have been self-defining themselves with content from brands they feel represent themselves for years - the avatar systems are one place I think an in-flux of branded content will be welcomed wholeheartedly.  This is a win-win solution here.

[Full disclosure: Josh Lovison works for the IPG Emerging Media Lab, which works with Universal McCann. Both Microsoft and Sony are agency clients.]

Tags: gaming
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1 comment about "A Tale Of Two Avatars".
  1. Scott Posey from AOL , February 6, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    Couldn't agree with you more. The avatar systems give users a customizable appearance in a non customizable world. It's the one thing you can have control over in the gaming environment. I have plenty of friends who spent quite some time making their avatars look exactly like them (myself included). I also have some friends who made Michael Jackson, Ronald McDonald, and some other questionable folks. Regardless of you make, it bleeds creativity and people it up. I can't wait to see where game companies take this idea going forward!