Microsoft is planning to launch its new Xbox Live Avatars next month. The software giant first unveiled the redesigned avatars at E3 last year, and originally planned to provide them to Windows 10 users by the end of 2017. Microsoft missed that target, but sources familiar with the company’s Xbox plans tell The Verge that it will preview the new avatars to Xbox Insiders this month. Microsoft’s Xbox employees already have access to the new avatar system, and the Xbox Alpha group of testers will get access first before they’re broadly available next month.
The new avatars will let you fully customize your online character with new body type options, clothing, and props. Microsoft is offering a variety of options that focus on diversity, and the company’s original trailer showed an amputee, playful costumes, wheelchairs, skateboards, and even motorbikes to highlight all of the props and customization that will be available.
Microsoft will integrate the new avatar system widely in the Xbox One dashboard, and the characters will be available on the homescreen area. We understand Microsoft is also planning to open a new avatar store in May, allowing Xbox Live users to purchase props, clothing, and additional customizations for their avatars. Microsoft’s previous avatar system, designed for the Xbox 360 era, also had its own store.
The new avatars are created in the Unity engine, making it a lot easier to customize them and add additional props. They’re designed to replace the avatars originally introduced alongside the Xbox 360 in 2008. Sources tell us that Microsoft will eventually allow third-party developers to build their own props and clothing, and sell these items in Microsoft’s digital store.
Update, 9:45AM ET: Added an image of the avatars inside the Xbox One dashboard.