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Published on August 11th, 2009 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder

Xbox Live Update Brings Avatar Marketplace Pricing Debate to Twitter

Today, when you turn on your Xbox 360, you’ll be treated to a host of  new features. Netflix updates, interface updates, and a new place in your dashboard that allows you to customize your online persona in new and exciting ways. Xbox Live’s Avatar Marketplace is now open for business.

While for many gamers the new feature is all fine and good, for many others, it’s proving to be the battle of the century.

The reason for this ongoing battle? The pricing of the Avatar Marketplace. Some things, like tees caps, and various other Avatar-decking apparel are available for the low price of 80 MS Points, which translates into $1.00 in US currency. Those are cool. The debates are being stemmed by a relative few items, which are proving to be a bit more expensive.

Take for instance the fact that you can now wear a Clone Trooper uniform, a Clone Trooper Helmet, a Blue Lightsaber, or even a custom Skateboard. The problem many gamers are facing is that the Clone Trooper Uniform & Blue Saber will run you 400 MS Points, or $5, the skateboard will run you 240 MS Points, or $3, and the Clone Trooper Helmet will cost you 140 MS Points, or $1.75. Here’s what they look like, courtesy of Destructoid.com:

Clone Trooper Avatar Helmet - 140 MS Points Clone Trooper Avatar Uniform - 400 MS Points Avatar Lightsaber - 400 MS Points Avatar Skateboard - 240 MS Points

Now, by no stretch of the imagination am I going to deny that I’d love to rock Clone Trooper gear, but once I did the math I realized that the whole outfit costs 540 MS Points – a whole $6.75 for a customization on my avatar. Let’s say I wanted to get all Star Wars’ed up and get the saber as well? The whole shebang-a-bang will run me 940 Points, or $11.75. I can keep going. Fable II’s Highwayman Armor, once you round up all the pieces costs 440 MS Points, or $5.50.

Let’s just say that people aren’t enthused about this. There are tons of whole Xbox Live Arcade games that are less expensive than even the Lightsaber. Gin Rummy is only 400 MS Points. You can buy ‘Splosion Man – which has been getting rave reviews – for 140 points less than the full Star Wars Clone Trooper/Lightsaber set.

The point I’m making with all this is not only are these prices well beyond what they should be – and what they were announced to be originally. I’ve been doing a bit of chatting on Twitter, making my feelings known about how ridiculous this pricing is all morning, and came up with the perfect hashtag to explain my feelings on this ridiculousness: #AMPSucks. It means Avatar Marketplace Pricing Sucks.

I won’t be the one to try and tell anyone that they’re stupid for customizing their avatar (neither are they, but it’s a great article), but I do pose a question:

If it were possible to pay less than the prices that they’re currently asking for on Xbox Live’s Avatar Marketplace, would you like to save some of your points by paying less?

I’d imagine you would. If that’s the case, and you’d like to see lower prices on the Avatar Marketplace, I ask you to retweet the following message:

“I don’t like the new Avatar Marketplace Pricing Structure. #AMPSucks, so lower the price, Microsoft! http://is.gd/2c97E

Of course, you can take out the @DeejayKnight if you like. All it really takes is to help get #AMPSucks trending and staying there. The goal here is to get Microsoft to notice that we’ll be voting with our wallets by *not* buying any of the avatar upgrades until they lower the price.

This isn’t about being rich or poor. It’s not about fighting against downloadable content, or begging for free content (though some of it should be free anyways). This is about making enough noise that Microsoft hears our collective voices and lowers the price of this content. Even if they were to drop the price of whole costumes (including helmets) to 240 MS Points rather than 540+, the sales would rise due to the lower cost. Coding Horror wrote an article regarding digital software that fits this argument (and others regarding Xbox Live) perfectly.

I sincerely hope they lower prices soon. Because I’d LOVE to wear some Splinter Cell: Conviction gear on my Avatar. I’m just not spending $5 to do it. You shouldn’t either. Use #AMPSucks on Twitter and let them know how you feel!

Update

It seems that word has been getting around the gaming community about #AMPSucks! Not everyone agrees with the concept, it’s sparking some serious discussion, which is a part of what #AMPSucks was meant to do.

Ken Crockett over at XcastOnline wrote an article called “Are Avatars Worth Spending Money On?“, in which he defends Microsoft’s charging for Avatar related goods. Have a read, then read my reply, which I’ve posted here as well:

This is a great article, Ken!

I like the fact that you added one particular phrase:

“Very quickly people realized that Microsoft, an actual business, would like to do just that – run a business and make money.”

That gets right to the heart of the discussion at hand, really. The business side of Microsoft wants to make money, and that part is completely expected and understandable. To be completely honest, if I was ever in the position to charge for something, you couldn’t make a better choice than Star Wars!

To clarify though, #AMPSucks isn’t about stopping Microsoft from making money – to the contrary, it merely suggests lower prices. Lower prices = more purchases = more MS Points spent in the Marketplace.

You see, the trend I’ve noticed on Xbox Live is that prices consistently go up. XBLA Games started at 800 Points but now regularly release at 1200 Points, themes have gone up in price, and now the Avatar Marketplace is selling items at prices rivaling some Arcade titles.

The biggest reason for #AMPSucks outside of the already high prices (in my opinion of course) is the [i]already set[/i] precedence for raising those prices later. If thos of us who think the prices are too high sit complacently in the beginning, it’ll be too late to combat when Avatar gear hits the 800 & 1200 Points.

I have never, nor will I ever be someone who tells others how to spend their money (until my wife and I have kids, that is). That’s not what I do. Adults are free to spend their money on what they wish. #AMPSucks just aims to give them more for their money.

I figured those words were important enough to be brought here. Do you agree? You know what to tweet.

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About the Author

Deejay has been a gamer since the Atari 2600, has wrestled–and defeated–alligators with only his toes, and once aligned all the planets in the Solar System by uttering the words "Coo Coo Ka-Choo". In his sleep. He currently bides his time behind the scenes here at GAMINGtruth.com, streaming at http://www.twitch.tv/deejayknight and teaching.



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