According to a third party developer, Microsoft will no longer allow guns or gun-like avatar items to be sold or given away through the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, the software giant's online store for its Xbox 360 console. The graphical elements can currently be obtained to burnish the appearance of gamers' on-screen avatars, cartoonish characters that represent their online persona.
"Heads up," an online post from the Epic Games Community Manager reads. "Starting on January 1, 2012, the Lancer and Hammerburst avatar items [both of which represent guns] will no longer be available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. If you’ve purchased the items prior to January 1, you will be able to keep them. A new policy goes into effect for all gun-like avatar items on the Marketplace."
While Microsoft has yet to issue an official statement about this change, it follows a long list of similar bans related to what developers can add to user's avatars, including talking, smoking, and violence. (Oddly enough, Microsoft allows your avatar to appear to smash the screen on Windows Phone, which is perhaps more humorous than violent.)
Unfortunately for Microsoft, every time it's opened up parts of Xbox LIVE to creative customization, a subset of the user base has responded in a highly dubious fashion. Last year's hit game, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," for example, allowed users to create custom Playercards using fairly sophisticated graphical tools. And sure enough, X-rated, scatological imagery appeared immediately. Complaints to Xbox LIVE are never answered, so it's unclear what steps--if any--Microsoft or Activision, the game's publisher, ever took to address this issue.