A look at the Xbox Live summer update

updateplaceholdThe latest summer update has been released to 20 million Xbox Live users on Tuesday the 11th August, and many gamers were rushing home yesterday to see what this latest download will bring to their gaming experience. Taking a swift break from looking for savings for you all, I thought I’d take a look at what was on offer and give you all a brief overview of what’s new.

Best dig deep if you want to take advantage of most of it mind…

I'd Buy That for a Dollar
Costly…

Avatars are label whores!
There is now a new avatar marketplace and the options for customising your avatar are now endless, say the boys and girls at Microsoft, Your avatar’s one-stop-shop has launched with a growing collection from the top names in fashion, such as Adidas, Quiksilver, Roxy, Tokidoki join in alongside game-branded clothing from the likes of  “Bioshock 2,” “Halo 3,” “Halo 3: ODST,” “Gears of War 2,” “Fable II,” “The Secret of Monkey Island SE,” “Splinter: Cell Conviction,” and last but not least “Star Wars Clone Wars: Republic Heroes”.

However all this comes at a price, especially if you have the Microsoft points converter at hand which reminds you just how much your new avatar outfit has actually just cost you. What follows is a sudden realisation of “What the hell am I doing buying designer clothes for my virtual alter-ego?, have a word with yourself mate!”. Maybe that’s just the voices in my head.

For example, to kit your avatar out with clone trooper armour, light sabre and helmet would set you back a cool 960 Microsoft points which is actually around £8.16 in real money. If your budget was smaller you still have to question if it is worth it paying £1.36 on some pom-poms, football, basketball, or even a giant cotton bud (I mean, seriously?). Maybe I am being a spoil sport on the subject, after all they are only giving people what they want, and if you really don’t want to pay, there is also now an alternative.

You can now earn special avatar clothes and items just by playing your favourite games, starting with a hot logo t-shirt from “Splosion Man,” the Xbox LIVE Arcade title that kicked-off off the 2nd annual “Summer of Arcade”.  I am sure this is only the beginning and many games in the coming months will offer you rewards in the form of items for your avatar, and this can only be seen as a fantastic idea in my eyes.

There is another way of gaining Microsoft points to boost your avatars wardrobe, and that would be to do well on 1 vs. 100, if you ever get out of the crowd that is.

How Much?
 Not worth the cash…

Full Xbox 360 games at the push of a button
Xbox 360 games: Games on Demand. Launched with a library of 21 great titles, Games on Demand marks the introduction of digitally distributed full Xbox 360 games: the titles you want, when you want them, straight to your Xbox 360 at the push of a button. You’ll also have the option to easily purchase Games on Demand titles directly via credit card.

Sounds fantastic right? It would be if the price of these games were not offered by Microsoft at such an extortionate price of £19.99 have a look below at the some of the titles available and the price at which they can be purchased online.

Not only are many of these games half the price, you are also able to trade them in or sell on a certain auction site once you have had your fill of them. Another question that needs to be asked is that if games on demand are now in actual currency, why isn’t everything else? Does this mean you cannot buy games with Microsoft Points? It makes the whole process more confusing that it needs to be to be have two payment systems in place. They probably think that 2400 points sounds an awful lot to pay for an old game, but all I can say to Microsoft “Wake up and smell the coffee, so is £19.99″.

On the positive side
You can now rate every single piece of content on Xbox LIVE Games Marketplace using a five star system. Support your favourite XBLA game with a five star rating, or find the top-rated titles in the newly-updated Indie Games Marketplace . This makes it much easier to find the best and most beloved game content on Xbox LIVE and maybe uncover some hidden gems from Indie Games.

Xbox LIVE Tenure is a new feature where Xbox LIVE Gold members get to show off with a stamp on your Gamer Card that tells people how many years you have been a Gold member. Why not show the world you have been playing Xbox even way back when all this was fields?

Achievements are no longer displayed in a list, they are now tiled in rows with the achievement details listed across the top of the screen. You can also see straight away how many games you have fully completed, which is often quite embarrassing.

For those of you that were a little excited about switching on your Xbox today and were expecting  Last FM, Facebook and Twitter to be added, I’m afraid you have a little longer to wait yet as these features will be added in the Autumn/Fall update.

Overall the changes are quite cool and it’s always great to see improvements and fresh content. Even though the world is in a crushing recession right now, it appears the gaming world is as strong as ever. Even so, I think we would all agree that some of the prices need to be a little more realistic.

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