For those who didn’t get in on the dashboard update preview program your consoles will be updated tomorrow, August 11th. Whilst many are waiting in anticipation of what to expect - the answer to that is simply “not a lot”. The two biggest improvements to tomorrows update is Games-on-Demand & Avatar Marketplace stores to tempt you to part with even more money for Microsoft.
The more interesting updates are coming later in the year with applications from Twitter, Facebook and Last.fm which will be released seperately around November time. No further information has come to light about the UK only SkyPlayer, but full instant streaming 1080p movies on a newly branded Zune Marketplace is more than enough to get excited about, but still a way off.
For tomorrows dashboard update that will hit more than 20 million consoles, if you like dressing up your avatar then you will not be disappointed with the new Avatar Marketplace. It contains a vast selection of colourful t-shirts, hats, branded items from Halo3, Halo3 ODST, Fable II and The Secret of Monkey Island. Future items from Adidas and Gears of War will soon be available with my only hope that sometime in the future Call of Duty items will make an appearance. The downside for your Avatar purchases is that they are tied to the gamertag which bought them, so since each item you buy requires a download file you are not able to share items for other other profiles you may have on your console unlike arcade games and DLC content.
Your avatar will now be able to play with Avatar Props purchased from the Marketplace which include: Remote Control Halo3 Warthog, Basketball, Football, Bottles, Telescope, Cotton Bud, Weights, and many other interesting items. Currently the only place where your chosen prop can be seen is on the dashboard, but you can also use it when taking an avatar gamerpic. It is not yet known if any future games with Avatar support will enable the showing of props, but it does give your avatar something to do instead of just poking a leg out! Items available throughout the Avatar Marketplace will be priced between 40 - 320 MS Points each
Games on Demand is in theory a great addition, but with each title averaging just over a 5GB download for Â£19.99, you just as well pick up the game you want used from a games store at a much cheaper price without the waiting time and usage of your HDD space. Current titles available include: Call of Duty 2, Viva Pinata, Oblivion and Assassins Creed, whilst nothing to write home about this service is perhaps good for a few impulse purchases.
Other improvements with this dash update include being able to eject a disc by pressing X, a better achievement listing using the guide button, timestamps on saved files in your HDD, and better Party connections where you are reconnected should you suddenly lose connection mid game.
Other than all of the above, the dash update tomorrow is nothing to get too excited about as initially you wouldn’t notice any differences - The better features are yet to come later in the year.