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Microsoft announces Avatar Marketplace and "Awardables"

New animated props and premium items to be sold as microtransactions this summer

A number of new features for Xbox 360 avatars have been announced by Microsoft, including in-game items as rewards, animated props and a new microtransaction-based Avatar Marketplace.

Due to start "this summer", new clothing and items for avatars will be given as rewards for completing certain objectives in forthcoming games. An extension of the achievements and gamerscore concept, the new feature is referred to as Avatar Awardables.

Also announced is a new series of animated props and full costumes, introduced as a result of customer requests.

Finally, Microsoft is introducing the Avatar Marketplace, where premium clothing and interactive props will be available to download as paid-for microtransactions. Previously all new avatar clothing has been available as a free download.

Microsoft announced a number of other additions to Xbox Live in its pre-E3 conference last night, including a new games-on-demand service, user ratings, promised performance updates and new partnerships with Facebook, Twitter and

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