When the Xbox 360 arrived in 2005 with 1,280 x 720 resolution, 72x72 pixels probably seemed a perfectly reasonable gamerpic size. With the 4K Xbox Series X displaying eight times the number of pixels, however, anyone still using the ancient gamerpics will get a hilariously tiny view of their avatar.
Video producer and editor Gabriel Roland (@Noukon) was complaining about that very issue on Twitter. "I bought this gamerpic for 80 Xbox Points in 2006," he tweeted. "And I’ll be fucked if it won’t remain the best dollar I’ve ever spent." An accompanying image shows his beloved, barely visible avatar floating in a massive circle of grey.
With each passing generation, Xbox tries to shame my Pac-Man ghost avatar by shrinking it ever smaller and smaller. I will not yield. I bought this gamerpic for 80 Xbox Points in 2006, and I'll be fucked if it won't remain the best dollar I've ever spent until the seas boil over pic.twitter.com/Ji5ttoUVjh— Gabriel Roland (@noukon) August 19, 2021
Fortunately, the right person saw that tweet in the form of Xbox engineering lead Eden Marie. "Listen, I can't promise anything, but I'm going to make it my personal mission to fix this," she replied. Amazingly, she found that the same gamerpic Noukon purchased was still on sale, albeit at nearly two and half times the price, but she gladly splurged the $2.38 to buy it.
Right off the bat, Marie noticed that Xbox 360 gamerpics display differently if you're looking at your own profile or someone else's. On your own, the avatar is displayed as above and looks truly wonky. On someone else's profile, it displays better against your background, but it's still tiny and the edges are cut off by the circular format of newer gamerpics.
Before we even think about what looks good, we need to look at the inconsistency in the profile page/editor that started this thread. 360 gamerpics look fundamentally different here depending on whether you're looking at your own profile (broken) or someone else's (intended). pic.twitter.com/m5o0sXHfMx— Eden Marie (@neonepiphany) August 26, 2021
The grey border issue turned out to be a bug introduced at some point, so Marie was able to fix that first. Then, she took advantage of the Xbox UI's ability to handle transparency in images by overlaying the square gamerpic into a transparent circular image. After upsizing everything to a reasonable size, the avatar looks great and the problem has been solved. "What do you think, @noukon? Feel better about that dollar?," she tweeted.
It's a lot of fun, and sometimes, you even learn something new, like... apparently 360 gamerpics supported transparency all along?— Eden Marie (@neonepiphany) August 27, 2021
Anyway, what do you think, @noukon? Feel better about that dollar? pic.twitter.com/zxQx7SmHJw
"I have never and will never feel better about a dollar in my entire life," replied Roland. "I'll also say this: I worked in game QA for over a decade and I've never seen a bug addressed this quickly." Replied Marie: "It really helps that your bug report tweet made me laugh."
While this story on its own should warm the cockles of any gamer's heart, that's not the end of it. Marie noted that the fix will be introduced for all Xbox users still rocking those old gamerpics. "PS, since there have been questions, this will need to roll out with other console updates, Insiders first, and this will change how all 360 gamerpics show up on console, not just certain ones," she noted. The fix has now been added to the Alpha ring, so if all goes well, it should fix everybody's messed up Xbox 360 gamerpics in the coming months.