It's a safe assumption that just about everyone who has booted up a Microsoft console over the past six years has at least dabbled in the creation of their own avatar. Acting as digital representations of the gaming populace, these avatars figured heavily into the Xbox 360's architecture and even starred in some titles of their own. With the release of the Xbox One, it's no secret that their presence has begun to fade.
Now, Microsoft's avatars aren't the only digital personification tool available on the big three console giants' platforms: Nintendo has their platform-straddling Miis and Sony dabbled in the living environment of PlayStation Home. With Sony's service shutting down in March, this will leave a potential market wide open. In what could be a move to capitalize on this, Microsoft has begun hiring for positions that will aim to bring avatars back into the forefront for Xbox One gamers.
Appearing in the form of two job listings posted to Microsoft Careers, the software giant is currently looking for a "Senior Software Engineer" and "Software Engineer II - Avatar." According to the postings, these positions will be focused on pushing the avatar platform forward and not only adapting it to the new Xbox One hardware, but also embracing other platforms.
"Grow the avatar platform across all of our platforms, leveraging the power of Xbox One, the far reach of Windows, and the intimacy of touch on mobile devices. You will own the rendering tech for the Avatar engine, working to ensure Avatars are not only gorgeous, but highly performant across a wide scale of devices."
While it's no surprise that Microsoft will be updating Xbox avatars to embrace the increase in power exhibited by the Xbox One, arguably the most telling aspect of the new positions is their aim to "take Xbox avatars on their biggest adventure yet with higher fidelity and a bigger stage." A massive adventure could encompass any number of things, but the timing of these postings coinciding so close with the March closing of PlayStation Home is hard to ignore.
Having implemented Xbox avatars into past games like A World of Keflings and Motocross Madness, it's entirely possible that titles such as these could be wrapped into a social experience akin to Home for current generation gamers. This also wouldn't be the first instance of Microsoft experimenting with bringing together similar content under a single umbrella, with Halo Channel standing as a prime example.
This new initiative also seems to place a focus on bringing together various devices through the use of avatars. While SmartGlass may not have taken off like Microsoft might have originally liked, this could very well hold the potential that they need to really get people interested about participating in second screen experiences. Not only that, but any chance to possibly see a return of 1 vs. 100 is worth getting excited about.
Would you be interested in a re-launch of Xbox avatars? How would you like to see avatars implemented in the Xbox One's future?
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