Love’em or hate’em, the achievements and trophies introduced last generation have carved out a permanent place in gaming. But they’re no longer truly reflecting the way people play games, and Microsoft is taking measures to address that. Speaking to Windows Central in a 90-minute interview, Xbox Platform Corporate Vice President Mike Ybarra teased the change among many other topics.
In short, achievements as they are best highlight people who play a lot of games – while leaving out those who play games a lot.
“We’re working towards a bigger, more meaningful change [to achievements] about somebody’s gaming accomplishments… as a gamer on Xbox,” Ybarra said. “Whether it’s someone who only plays multiplayer in Halo 5 at a professional level – maybe they only have 2,000 Gamerscore – you want to be able to celebrate that person. You want people to be in the know. This person doesn’t play a lot of games, but they’re world top ten at Halo 5.”
Ybarra wouldn’t get specific, but says that Microsoft is “going to go big in the area of letting people show off and represent their gaming history and the type of gamer that they are, far more than we do with gamerscore.”
MOBAs and Battlegrounds
When achievements were introduced, online gaming was an extra – a separate mode. MMOs were around, for sure, but they weren’t on consoles. Now, for many games, online is the game, and people who play that game only play that game. Whether it’s Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, League of Legends, or Overwatch, many gamers will pick up one game and concentrate, pouring hundreds of hours into them.
How Microsoft will implement this is anyone’s guess, but I think the upcoming update offers a clue. Microsoft’s next update overhauls the Xbox One dashboard to allow us to not only pin games and apps but “content blocks” that dynamically offer up information relevant to us. I imagine that whatever Microsoft does, it’ll look something like that. You could integrate your Kill:Death Ratio from Call of Duty or pipe in your ever-increasing number for hours played of Minecraft. Gamerscore will still be a round, but it’ll be one element of a much more complex and customizable “achievement block” or something like that. That’s all speculation, of course, but it seems pretty plausible.