Yup, avatars: Your character model. The representation of your character(s) in the game world. How important are avatars to you?
In my experience, there are people who care about it, and people who just don’t. And I think both are valid. There are some players that just couldn’t care less. The avatar, to them, is merely a necessity – the necessary point of contact between player and game, that could be a warrior all clad in silver armor or a purple ball that bounces around for all they care. It’s the same, and it doesn’t matter to them if there are a thousand different facial features to choose from, or how much different gear or clothing they can pile on it. The avatar then simply becomes another bulletpoint game feature that may or may not be there and it doesn’t really matter in any case, like being able to log chat or not, or the option to set pretty shadows or not so pretty shadows.
Then there are other players for whom avatars are a huge portion of the game, and this even transcends to the emotional plane. I’m not saying they fall in love with them (wouldn’t put it past some, though) but they develop a very real and very palpable emotional attachment to it and the character it represents. To them, being able to customize that avatar and imprint it with a physical appearance of their choosing can make or break a game. Options for gear, clothing and other paraphernalia such as accessories or even pets then becomes a necessity. Much of the ultimate fulfillment of the game, for these players, comes from what they’re able to do with their avatars.
So the question stands, what about you guys/girls/everything in between? Have you ever enjoyed a game more because of it paying good attention to its avatars? Have you ever been turned off from games when that doesn’t happen? How important is it to you to have a wide selection, not only of physical features for your avatar, but also lots of items, wearables and accessories? Or, on the other hand, are you a player that thinks all that is fluff or a waste of developer resources?
Scream at me.