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
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.]