Hell might have just frozen over because the day has finally come where Microsoft is going to reward you for all those Xbox 360 achievements you’ve spent years hoarding. When the 360 was launched in November of 2005 its games included achievements as a way for players to show off their accomplishments in a game. More achievements meant a higher Gamerscore and a higher Gamerscore meant, well, not much. Even after creating countless achievement hunters and pushing Sony to create trophies it seemed like there would be no palpable benefit. Seven years have passed and Microsoft is introducing the MyAchievements system for Xbox Live Rewards Gold members.
Let’s be honest, it’s great that Microsoft is finally making strides for rewarding gamers for all their long hours of playing. In the end, though, after all this time is it really that great of a deal? Anyone who likes something for free is obviously going to say yes. Microsoft could have gone the cheap and expected route and just given people Avatar rewards (which are probably what the birthday gifts will be) but actually giving a rebate on purchases is a surprise. Then again, this is only a one or two percent rebate.
How about some math? Purchases on the Marketplace are done with Microsoft Points (a currency choice to this day only Microsoft probably understands). One dollar is equal to 80 points and many XBLA games and DLC are 800 points ($10) or 1200 points ($15). Keep in mind I’m rounding up from .99 cents to make things simpler. With the 2% refund for Champion level a 1200 point purchase would get you 24 points back or about 30 cents in real money. It would more or less take fifty purchases of 1200 Microsoft Points to rack enough points in rebates to cash in on a 1200 point game. The fine print of the MyAchievements page says that you can earn up to 30,000 Microsoft Points but let’s get serious—to reach that you would have to make over a thousand purchases.
Free money is always a good thing but if you think about it, it’s like you are getting a few pieces of change back for a purchase. No one is going to complain about getting free stuff for simply having to play games (nor should they) but couldn’t there have been more? Not to start a flame war but let’s consider Sony’s offerings for Playstation Plus subscribers. Sony has been very generous with Plus members by giving out premium XMB themes, early access to games, discounts on downloadable titles, and free games. Not only have Plus members received free downloadable titles but also digital versions of retail games (such as LittleBigPlanet and Infamous). Whether Sony’s online services are better than Microsoft’s is something that people will always debate, but that isn’t what is important here.
The company could have set a big standard by offering even one free game to players in the Legend tier. Instead, these gamers who have invested a lot of time and money into their Xbox just get a few cents on the dollar back that they might never be able to take full advantage of. “But free is free!” I completely understand the point but that isn’t what I am arguing. If anything, this program feels like half an effort. Additionally I really do think it is just too late. This console generation is winding down fast and before we know it, companies are going to be switching focus to their new products. Would it have been that hard to offer years of dedicated gamers some classic XBLA hits? Maybe a free month or two of Xbox Live? I’m certainly not going to stop playing but man…some better rewards would have been great.