The Xbox may have come to popularity thanks to the success of many gun-laden games, but now that it has the top console, Microsoft is trying to shift its image. According to Epic Games, makers of the Gears of War series, all “gun-like” avatar props will be pulled from Xbox Live. Microsoft will not take away your gun prop if you purchase it before Jan 1, but after that, the market for avatar customization will get a lot nicer.
“Heads up! Starting on Jan. 1, 2012, the Lancer and Hammerburst avatar items will no longer be available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace,” said Will Kinsler, community manager at Epic Games on the publisher’s official forum (via TFTS). “If you’ve purchased the items prior to Jan. 1, you will be able to keep them. A new policy goes into effect for all gun-like avatar items on the Marketplace, so get them while they’re hot.”
So why the ban on gun-like items? It’s likely Microsoft’s attempt to broaden the image of the Xbox 360. With the Kinect and recent dashboard enhancements, it’s clear that Microsoft is trying to make the 360 a family-friendly console with a breadth of non-gaming entertainment options like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. The popularity of first-person shooters like Gears of War, Halo, Bioshock, and the like still paint a male 20-something image on the console. There isn’t much Microsoft can do about it without alienating its core fanbase, but eliminating small items like guns in avatars is a step the company appears willing to take.
Does it upset you that gun-like avatars will no longer be allowed on the Marketplace? Is it a smart move?