Avatars are customizable representations of Xbox Live users, introduced in the 2008 NXE update for the Xbox 360. Each Xbox Live account is attached to one Avatar. Once created, the Avatar's appearance can be changed at will, with different body types, hair styles, clothes, and items with unique animations (called 'props'). Clothing and item combinations can be saved as outfits and re-applied later.
Several clothing options were made available to all users when Avatars were introduced, and some free updates have added clothes and appearance options; however, most Avatar content must be purchased from the Avatar Marketplace.
The Xbox One carries over Avatars from the Xbox 360, but they are not as prominently featured as they were on the 360, and do not appear on the dashboard.
Avatar support has appeared most often in games that use Kinect, multiplayer-focused games such as Deca Sports Freedom and Quarrel, and Microsoft-published games. A Kingdom for Keflings was released by Microsoft along with the NXE update in November 2008, as the first game to use the player's Avatar as a controllable character.
The Avatar Marketplace was launched on August 13, 2009. It offers paid Avatar clothes and props, with subsections for certain brands and styles. Certain games, such as Halo and The Secret of Monkey Island, also have their own section. T-shirts emblazoned with game or developer logos, as well as clothing and items from the actual game, are common. However, Microsoft policies prevent most weapons from becoming Avatar props, with a rare exception being lightsabers.
Some Avatar clothing and props can be acquired by completing challenges in certain games. In 'Splosion Man, for example, completing the co-op campaign unlocks a t-shirt and dress.
Introduced with the Kinect game Wreckateer, Avatar Famestar is a Microsoft Studios program that allows for cross-game challenges in supported games to reward players with points and unlockable outfits.