Microsoft and Nintendo E3 Announcements Show Consoles Are Going Social in 2009

Microsoft and Nintendo’s announcements at E3 last week show that 2009 is the year that game consoles are going social.

Prior to the show, Microsoft had been talking about making its Xbox Live platform more social with the “New Xbox Experience.” But the addition of Mii-like avatars did little to create the community the company wanted. The company conducted various surveys to gain information that would help it make its avatars better.

Microsoft revealed more information about its progress during E3, with the Avatar Marketplace on Xbox Live. Using the Microsoft Points virtual currency, users will be able to download goods based on both first-party games, like Halo or Fable, as well as third-party titles such as Splinter Cell.

Virtual goods will vary, from branded clothing to usable props (toys, pets, etc). Microsoft also announced the addition of fashion lines of clothing for the avatars.

All of this, of course, was in addition to Microsoft’s announcement to bring Facebook Connect to Xbox Live as soon as this fall with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010.

One of Microsoft’s chief competitors, Nintendo, also made a rather significant announcement. Nintendo announced the integration of Facebook Connect with the Nintendo DSi, and stated a release date earlier than Xbox’s similar announcement a day earlier. This will mark the first Connect integration to go live on any gaming console.

The announcement was made by Nintendo’s EVP of Sales and Marketing, Cammie Dunway. Through Facebook Connect, Dunway says players will be able to upload and share photos using the DSi‘s built-in camera and interactive lenses.

“Nintendo continues to challenge how both new and longtime players perceive and play video games,” Dunway says. “We are continuing to add entirely new dimensions to the video game experience.”

The new features will be available this summer, and with them comes a new milestone in the evolution of social gaming.

[images via Gamespot]