The Business Of Avatars

Avatars are a core part of Microsoft's bid to expand the Xbox 360's audience from its cadre of shooter fans to casual game players. Nintendo Wii's Miis serve the same purpose, and Sony plans to launch an avatar-populated mini virtual world called "Home" for the PlayStation 3 next spring.

Avatars are cropping up with increasing frequency in games, virtual worlds, social networks and other areas of the Web as businesses experiment with them as a tool to drive sales.

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