Not being a gamer, I wasn’t aware that there are online stores where you can buy – with real dinero – equipment to trick out your avatar to personalize them. And guns have been just one of who-knows-how-many options in Microsoft’s Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace to customize the virtual you. But that won’t be the case for much longer…
Todd Bishop of ingame.msnbc.msn.com reports:
A new policy taking effect Jan. 1 will remove “gun-like” items from Microsoft’s Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace, the online store where gamers can buy items to dress up and accessorize their avatars, according to a forum post by a community manager for Epic Games, the company behind the blockbuster Gears of War franchise for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console.
Virtual weapons affected by the new policy include the Gears of War “Lancer,” the combination chainsaw/assault rifle being brandished by my Xbox Live avatar [above] in the accompanying picture.
Why would MSFT reduce the number of purchasing options available to their gaming customers? In a world where players can rock MG42s in Call of Duty or gnasher shotguns in Gears of War, why so sensitive about an avatar holding a shootin’ iron? It’s for the children, of course.
…Microsoft is trying to expand the Xbox 360′s audience while continuing to appeal to hard-core gamers, which can be a difficult balance to strike. Avatars represent users across the Xbox Live system, raising the possibility that a younger or more family-oriented user of the console might encounter an avatar holding a weapon from an M-rated (for mature audiences) game.
You can only imagine the pee-stained carpets in front of flat screens spanning the globe as unsuspecting little ones inadvertently cast their gaze on tiny fake people holding scary computer guns. Oh, the humanity.
Again, not being a gamer, Microsoft going all gun-grabber in their little virtual world is no skin off my nose. But if I were one to wield the occasional controller, in order not to support this kind of idiocy, I’d probably be pushing buttons on a Playstation. Maybe if Microsoft spent more time on customer service and making sure their products work as advertised and less on politically correct avatars, their stock price would be a little higher.