A bit negative, I know, but this is one of those things that really needs to be said. The view, at least from here, is that Microsoft's
newly-minted MyAchievements program really isn't going to do much good for Microsoft, at least not the way it's set up. Thankfully, there are some easy corrections that can do the job.
Under Microsoft's MyAchievements program, users will be able to take what was widely considered to be useless as anything other than a measure of gamer success and convert them into actual, tangible rewards. A fine idea, I thought--reward players for their efforts, for their purchases, and for their support by converting these generally intangible things (except the purchases, of course) into tangible things!--at least, until I saw the rewards. Not to mention the reward scales.
The first level comes when a user has a Gamerscore between 3,000 and 9,999 points, called Contender. Reaching this level nets you "a special gift during your birthday month", and while no one knows precisely what that is, we do know that the approximate retail value of said gift is--and brace yourself for this--$0.25. Yes, you read that right. A quarter.
While you may be underwhelmed by Microsoft's quarter on your birthday, the 10,000 - 24,999 level, dubbed Champion, will not only net you that birthday quarter, but you willl also receive a discount
on all your Xbox Live Marketplace purchases! What is this wonderful discount, you ask? One percent. Yes, that's right, for every hundred bucks you drop on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Microsoft will refund you one entire buck.
I know, I'm amazed too--now we're talking about actual FOLDING money here--but the top of the heap, reserved exclusively for those amazing players who put in gameplay enough to get 25,000 points, is called the Legend level. And you'd best believe that Microsoft knows how to treat its Legends.
At the Legend level, you get the birthday quarter.
You get the one percent discount.
And you know what you get next?
You get ANOTHER ONE PERCENT DISCOUNT!!
Those ambitious souls who have done the math and realize that that adds up to a hefty two percent discount are probably shaking their heads and wondering why Microsoft even bothered. Oh, and one other point: users have to be Xbox Live Gold
members to get in on this. Thus, users will have to pay in order to access the reward tiers, which are miserly to say the least.
I don't want to get off on an entitlement rant here, but really, Microsoft, put some brass in the reward scheme. Why not offer up a free game on the user's birthday? Done right, this might cost you ten bucks--less if you allow one free indie download--and might actually cost you nothing if you don't factor in the lost opportunity to make a sale. Or better yet, make a few games especially for the players--unavailable any other way--and give the user base something to really shoot for. A couple games that are only accessible to those users--and not just users that are behind the paywall, come on, Microsoft, no love for the people who only bought the Xbox 360 and the games for it?--who were willing to put in the time and the cash to play your system would go a long way. They don't have to be complex, they just have to be there.
But at the same time, we shouldn't be too judgmental. After all, we're all quite aware that the Xbox 360 is showing its age. A new system is literally just around the corner--some project it will launch a little over a year from now with the Xbox 720--so putting a lot of time, effort and resources into a reward scheme for a system with a reasonably clear expiration date probably isn't a good plan either.
It's a good start, really, but for it to truly go anywhere, it's going to have to get some bite into it, and quickly.