Regular visitors to the site/followers on Twitter will no doubt be aware of my love of the Xbox 360’s Achievement system – and to an extent the same service on Games for Windows Live, although that has been a limited, mixed experience. I like the idea of having a visual award, a badge of honour if you like, for completing a game. While it doesn’t limit my gaming at all – I have always tried to unlock/complete as much as possible with my games – but there is only so much satisfaction I can garner from *knowing* that I unlocked EVERYTHING in each of the PSX/PS2 Resident Evil games. I put in hours of game time and have nothing but a save file to show for it.
The concept of achievements is similar I suppose to those physical patches Activision would send out in the early days of gaming, which rewarded certain achievements by the gamer. For a long while achievement was rewarded with unlockable modes, costumes and weapons – but the rise fo the cheat code soon removed the motivation to actually strive for perfection. Which brings us to the modern Achievement model – play, achieve, get points.
They don’t translate into physical items but it does act as a legacy as such, you can bring up a user’s profile and see how good/bad they are at certain games. This can lead to races to score totals, competition to 100% a game or co-operative achievement hunting. It is a great thing, and while Sony tried to emulate the service – albeit too late in the game, and with a very unfair system – it is Microsoft’s effort that stands out. Now iOS devices have Crystal, OpenFeint and the more recently released Game Center that act as mini-achievement hubs, but the lack of one over-arching universal service can lead to frustration.
But how many Xbox Achievements have been unlocked over the last five or so years?
Literally billions, with the average user having a Gamerscore of about 11,000 and the world achieving 176,802,201,383 Points together.
Ridiculous frankly, but not at all surprising. The service has – and I’ve stated this on many occasions – in my opinion ehanced gaming for many, who would probably have played a game, completed whatever mode appealed most, and then left on shelf. As a result of gaming achievements developers can steer gamers down more experimental and exploratory routes, rewarding those who find easter eggs with a few points. Everyone wins.
So here’s to the next few billion, I’ll be doing my bit for sure.
Incidentally, the amount of time users have spent online with Xbox Live has also been released:
4 billion hours since the service launched on the original Xbox in 2002!
Oh, and a quarter of a billion dollars has been spent on Microsoft points.