XBLA Achievement Policy Change Coming Soon


A few years back we received a scoop from an industry vet about the unpublished achievement policy of retail games. That scoop proved prophetic and the rules he outlined have stayed true thus far, though it was recently revealed that the new cap would be raised to 2000, a mark we'll first see with Gears of War 3's Forces of Nature DLC later this month. Our friend (who still wishes to remain anonymous) is back with a new scoop on an upcoming change to the Xbox Live Arcade achievement policy! Microsoft is upping the ante quite a bit. First, let's discuss the evolution of these rules to date.

  • Base: 200 Gamerscore / Max of 20 Achievements
  • DLC: Up to 50 Gamerscore + 5 Achievements per Quarter (3 Max)
  • Total: Up to 350 Gamerscore / 35 Achievements

The very first set of achievement rules for XBLA stood the longest: 200 Gamerscore and 12 Achievements. That was the only option for years. As Downloadable Content became more and more prevalent, we had an increase of 50 Gamerscore and up to 5 new achievements available. Then they made allowances for up to three DLC additions, garnering a new cap of 350 Gamerscore. Later, alongside the release of the Windows Phone platform, the base game could have up to 20 achievements instead of only 12, while the DLC rules remained the same. Starting soon, the policy is set to change once again.

  • Base: 400 Gamerscore / Max of 30 Achievements
  • DLC: Up to 100 Gamerscore + 8 Achievements per Quarter (4 Max)
  • Total: Up to 800 Gamerscore / 62 Achievements

The new rules as seen above are a gigantic step up. Doubling the base requirement of the Gamerscore itself, greatly increasing the number of available achievements and allowing for more DLC additions gives companies much more room to work with. These new rules give more opportunities for better progression of achievements through story and multiplayer, as well as allowing for more unique and fun achievements that we often see in retail games, but can be rare for an arcade. It also can lengthen the development cycle for a single game, allowing a company to offer up to a full year of DLC additions that can increase the game's Gamerscore.

I personally think the main factor that went into this decision for Microsoft may have been the growing number of "achievement whores" and the mentality that can sometimes pervade our species. There is a widespread trend of both "no achievements, no buy" in DLC and the avoidance of games all together if they do not offer a great enough (and easy/short enough) reward for your overall Gamerscore (aka e-peen). While the price of arcade games has steadily risen in the past few years, I believe this is only to coincide with the increased size and quality of the releases.

I won't bother to get into the debate of paying for game content versus paying for Gamerscore. It's painfully obvious which is true. But that's also the state of mind many gamers adhere to (especially in our community), and I can commiserate when there are so many quality games to play. Gamerscore is often one more (or less) reason to invest time and money into a game, especially in the case of DLC for something that you've already completed. Perhaps Microsoft has seen this debate and wanted to do something to please that other half? They certainly changed the landscape of gaming with this system, so it only makes sense that they continue to shape it according to the growth of their faithful.

According to our source, companies that release a game between April 1st and May 31st have an option of which policy they would like to use. The first two games to fall in this window (Diabolical Pitch and The Splatters) are still on the old system, so we'll see who takes advantage first! As of June 1st it will be required for all releases.

So what do you think? Does offering more Gamerscore change your mind about the increasing price of an arcade game? Do you even bother with arcade games due to their low Gamerscore values? If not, will you reconsider with this new policy?

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