Saturday, April 12, 2008

When gamerscore jumps the shark

Achievements are a unique way to brag about your Xbox 360 gaming skills to people from all over the world. Every retail and Xbox Live Arcade game features achievements that, when unlocked, create an online resume to show what a gamer has accomplished while playing the console. Each achievement is represented by a number of points. These points add to a running total called a gamerscore, which is where all of the gamers achievements are tallied for all of the games they have played. The concept is really cool, but the system fails in the most important of aspects — execution.

Jared Rea of GameTap has written a fantastic article about the gamerscore, and the problems that currently plague it.

Gaining achievement points should be a rewarding experience and while competing for them makes sense, developers run the risk of poisoning the online field for players. The recently released Turok encourages players to go online and defeat a single opponent multiple times in a row without touching anyone else, or better yet, to go through an entire match without killing anyone.

I feel that developers should not include online achievements at all. Gears of War and Perfect Dark Zero are two more games that have ridiculous online achievements that do nothing but hurt the overall experience. It's obvious that this is a problem when you watch a teammate avoid the competition simply to achieve 10 points on their gamerscore.

You can read the full list of online blunders here. Microsoft has an innovative system on their hands, but developers need to work harder to strengthen the quality of their achievements. The system is only going to get worse if the twiddle their thumbs.


Chad said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I can't count the times I have joined a match of COD4, Gears, or Rainbow Six and been booted/told to leave because I wasn't going along with the achievement farming.

Online achievements shouldn't be included, or at least they should be made of a generalist variety. Number of matches won, etc...

Dan Whisenhunt said...