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Microsoft to disarm Xbox Live Avatars

One of the cool features of XBox Live on your Windows Phone is the ability to pull your avatar into the mix. We see it in the gaming hub and featured on Xbox Live games such as Shuffle Party and now games like PES 2012 will even award 'em for gameplay--obviously they're becoming more and more important on WP7.

One customization component of your avatar is the ability to purchase and add props. We've seen everything from a light saber to a limited-edition Windows Phone prop available for your avatar to tinker. According to various reports online, one prop class will be gone with the wind starting January 1, 2012.

According to a post over at the Epic Games Forums (Gears of War):

Heads up! Starting on Jan. 1, 2012, the Lancer and Hammerburst avatar items will no longer be available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. 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.

There are already restrictions on your avatar prohibiting violence that causes blood, gore, dismemberment, decapitation, maiming or mutilation as well as prohibitions on sexual acts, allowing the avatar to excrete obscene bodily fluids or substances and acts of aggressive or threatening manners. Reportedly,  Microsoft will be amending this policy to prohibit "gun-like" avatar items on the Marketplace as well.

Some of these props, due to licensing issues, won't transfer over to your Windows Phone and you may not be impacted by this new policy as a result. Still, it seems ridiculous that we can shoot up enemy troops, blast alien hordes, and have our avatar wield a light saber that can slice through flesh as it was butter but our avatars can't carry a toy gun? What do you folks think: good idea to appeal to the masses (with children) or is Microsoft trying too hard to be like Nintendo? We've already seen their green-blood and "adult content" policy take its toll--is Microsoft going too far?

source: g4tv

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

19 Comments
  • Im not quite sure why weapons need to be outlawed. You need to be 18 or have a parents help to make an account, so it really shouldn't be an issue.
  • I'm not a serious gamer, don't and won't own an Xbox, don't visit gaming sites either. I gave up spending precious time prior to super Mario brothers. That being said, I don't much care what people do with their own time in their own homes or with their own funds. But I have created an avatar since owning my WP7. Does it truly represent me or an alter ego? I should say not! But it's a cool feature. Its been cool too to see other's avatars display on my phone from various sites. However I do agree with MS decision to limit some aspects of avatar displays. I'm not adverse to a gun toting avatar. Avatars can't shoot other avatars after all. But I would be adverse to using my phone and seeing another avatar perform some sex act or excrete bodily fluids! Good Grief people! Seriously? Some doofus may think it funny to display such idiotic graphics. But maybe instead of curtailing everything across the board because there are factions that DO want to see such gross images MS could tag these images with an "X" rating so that these only displayed on devices with "Display X ratings images" selected in their settings? When one of these stupid avatars does up while browsing then all any sane person would see is a red or black x because the personally offensive image would not display.
  • They are not removing all gun-like props. They are just replacing them with Walkie Talkies.
  • That's really stupid because if parents read the terms there should be no complaints. You have to be 18 WTF
  • I have no problem with this. As a parent you can control what games your kids play but you can't control what their friends put on their avatar. I'm all about violent videogames, but keep it in the games.
  • The question is this though: the majority of Windows Phone/Xbox users are adults, not children. Why can't they just add more adult-child controls/restrictions instead of blocking the majority of us? That way adults can be adults and parents can block content for their kids (as they should).
  • An avatar is supposed to represent an individual. This is in honor of the anti gun laws in various places across the country which I'm in support of.
  • That's a fancy way of saying lame.
  • I am honestly surprised by the amount of people in America that actually think they are making a statement by being "anti-gun". If you would like to live in a socialist country where the only allowable guns are pointed at you by the government, by all means.....MOVE THERE. Before you voice your ignorant comments, you should try doing just a little research. Avatars and guns on my phone.... Just another constitutional right being taken away. Not that I even have an avatar, but in the real world (you know, the one people like you shy away from by hiding behind things like the internet), I am a proud gun owner. Responsibility is key. If you need help understanding the Constitution of the United States of America, there are several links, or (gasp) books I can recommend. This is just my humble opinion-using the great honor of freedom of speech that was given to us all by our wonderful and selfless (gun toting) men and women of our military. May God bless them all.
  • @lbt817 - For someone who boats about the Constitution, you don't seem to know much about it.
    " Avatars and guns on my phone.... ... Just another constitutional right being taken away."
    False. Microsoft is not bound by the Constiution. The US Gov't is. Microsoft is a private corporation who offers a service with TOS that you agree to. They have no obligation to the Constition or the Bill of Rights.  BTW, the 1st Amendment is in the Bill of Rights, not the Constitution.
    "If you would like to live in a socialist country where the only allowable guns are pointed at you by the government..."
    A country's economic system is dissociated from gun laws, just fyi. Japan is not very socialist and yet they have very strict gun laws.  
  • I guess the FIRST AMENDMENT doesn't matter in avatar land. Seriously this is the stupidest thing yet from MS. Can you go to WalMart, target, toys r us, the mall and not see guns? What about cops? Should they hide their guns? Maybe even blur out all guns on tv shows and the news. These gun haters are psycho. Guns are a part of life. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. If the don't have a gun there still gonna kill you if there a killer. Some people have their heads so far up their butt they can't figure that that out. Oh well I've never bought a gun for my avatar but I'm gonna load up now. Still I'm sad MS is doing this.
  • And you can't even spell. Your ignorance is proven so many times in this comment that I'm not even going to try to counter it.
  • While I disagree with MS's stand here, this has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, so playing that card is a bit weak. The 1st amendment is about government lmiting free spech. Private/commerical interests can limit it all they want either in a service or if you're on their property--you even consent to that when you "Agree" to the ToS. So lets not conflate the two by making this a rights issue.  
  • Microsoft is on a mission to sanitize the Xbox platform, and I hate it. I'm a parent with two small kids that also use the system, but there is a better solution:
    Mark mature content as mature, and use filtering. I don't think anyone here that thinks this is stupid would mind a flag that prevents guns from being shown on avatars without parental approval.
  • you know dámn well that's not the case. Just looking for a reason to flame Microsoft. I'm sure if apple did the same thing it would be the right thing to do. Get lost loser.
  • JasonTracy, I think your point better articulates the view of people who are in favor of this, like myself. I am in favor of limiting what my kids get exposed to. Since I can't currently filter avatars then I'm against the guns and violence. If I could simply filter them I would be much more likely to say leave them. The only caveat there is that when I load the dashboard I might have my son in the room. I know that so I don't play a violent game, watch a violent show etc. I wouldn't limit my friends avatars on my profile though so still have a chance of my son seeing something I would rather he didn't.
  • Who buys avatar props anyways???  $4 for a lancer gun???  I can buy 4 XBLIG games for that price!  I guess there are people that pay for fake clothes and fake accessories.  But really, let's get a reality check.
    Only the Gears of War game had avatar guns.  If you search Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc., there are no guns for sale.  Surprised that Epic was able to sell the lancer or hammerburst at all.
  • A lot of in-game avatar items are awarded for gameplay. I have two from Portal 2 that I didn't pay a cent for. Anyways, it's more about the principal than whether or not you find it worth your money.
  • From what I understand weapons have actually been disallowed since NXE. Maybe this was all an oversight. Also, can you guys cut the malarkey. The consitution doesn't apply to your Xbox or the internet.