World of Warcraft (Not Miis) Influenced 360 Avatars, Says Microsoft

Microsoft has finally confronted the criticism--whether fair or not--that the company cribbed Nintendo's Mii avatars for inclusion in its upcoming New Xbox Experience, the dashboard overhaul coming in November.

"It's not like Nintendo created the concept for having a virtual character," Xbox director of marketing Albert Penello said to MTV Multiplayer.

"A lot of people want to compare it to the Miis but ... if you talk to Mark [Whitten, Xbox Live general manager], he'll say his inspiration came more from [World of] WarCraft and seeing how dedicated people get to their characters," Penello explained. Hands-on reports with Avatars coming from the Tokyo Game Show indicate that Avatars have many, many more customization options than Miis, making them more akin to World of Warcraft characters.

Penello even alluded to the chance that the Mii-vatar controversy circulating the gaming press was created by the press itself: "All the [gaming] editors were asking, 'When are you guys going to do your version of the Miis?' ... [and] I remember going, 'You guys are going to slaughter us in the press if we ever do it.'"