The Xbox platform is going through an expansion – no longer is it limited to the consoles, it’s on every Windows 10 PC, and it intends to count the PC gamer as part of the Xbox family.
Of course, Microsoft is very careful with those intentions, since everybody remembers what happened with the infamous ‘Games for Windows LIVE’ platform.
Xbox ecosystem expansion isn’t just towards PC either – it’s encapsulating other things, such as Microsoft’s recently acquired streaming service: Beam.
If the Xbox ecosystem wants to gain a foothold within the more open and free-from-restrictions PC platform, it needs to be lax with its restrictions; allowing custom gamerpics, is a great starting point.
If a photo is worth a thousand words; then, gamerpics are an essay about you. Every social network that has ever been created have allowed its users to add their own profile picture that represents them the best.
Xbox, however, has kept things limited; Microsoft only lets players select a picture from a set of pre-defined images sourced mostly from various popular game titles.
Xbox does offer something that nobody else does – 3D Avatars; these, however, are not exactly what you would expect when you think of a custom profile picture. Since we have already mentioned PC – platforms on PC such as Steam, UPlay, Origin, et al. offer much more freedom with profile customization.
Microsoft’s own game streaming website is a social network by itself; Beam does let you put any image for your profile picture. Microsoft intends to bring the Beam and Xbox platforms closer at some point – it wouldn’t make sense to allow this freedom on one, and restrict on the other.
In a casual exchange on Twitter, Xbox’s platform lead Mike Ybarra mentioned that the Xbox team is indeed considering the possibility of allowing custom gamerpics on the platform.
— Mike Ybarra 🎄 (@XboxQwik) December 15, 2016
It’s a step in the right direction, but it has its own risks; for one, the Xbox Live platform is open to everyone above the age of 3 – that’s when players can start playing games like Minecraft.
The average social network doesn’t allow folks under the age of 16 – occasionally, 13 – but the Xbox Live’s accessibility by children over the age of 3 means it needs to be more careful with what it allows on its platform.
If Xbox Live allows for custom gamerpics – it wouldn’t be the first time it did so. The Xbox 360’s Vision Camera allowed players to snap a photo and set it as their gamerpics for a while, and while the functionality wasn’t replicated with the Kinect, it did set a precedent.
Today, Microsoft has the power of machine learning – they could analyze every photo, and make sure nothing controversial can be set as a gamerpic.
Indeed, one can only hope that the Xbox team can figure out a way to allow for this freedom; especially considering how much demand it has from the existing Xbox player base.