When it launched in 2005, the Xbox 360 was, certain issues aside, a successful product. But it was also drab. Lifeless. Until, in 2008, along came the avatars.
First officially unveiled at E3 2008, Microsoft's Avatars were seen by many as an attempt to cash in on Nintendo's success with their "Mii" characters, caricatures that had become wildly popular as the individualized mascots of Nintendo's new Wii system.
Included as part of a wider upgrade to the Xbox 360's user interface, dubbed the "New Xbox Experience" (or "NXE"), the Avatars were designed by the team at Rare to be part-dress-up doll, part-online identity, and, rather than being simple Mii clones, were the product of years of hard work at both Rare and Microsoft.
This is their story.