Since the launch of the Xbox 360 back in 2005, achievements have split gamers into two different types. There are the gamers who genuinely couldn't care less about how many points they have and just want to enjoy playing games, then there are the gamers who want their gamerscore to look perfect so they try to unlock every achievement they can, even if it means playing the game five times over, to the point that it's a chore. In 2007, the PlayStation 3 launched trophies—similar to achievements—but many gamers feel a trophy count doesn't give them an incentive to fully beat the game as much as points do. With gamerscore, you always have a figure that will gradually increase the more you play video games; you can have a goal to reach, such as Stallion83, the Xbox Live user with the highest amount of gamerscore who is striving to reach one million. With trophies, you have a level depending on how many trophies you've got, but this grows at an increasingly slower rate every time you level up, perhaps making some gamers feel that their rewards aren't immediate enough.
But what is gaming without these virtual accomplishments? Simply put, if an Xbox 360 retail game released today without any achievements, people would go nuts and the game wouldn't sell nearly as much as it could have, since some gamers buy games for achievements and only for achievements. Take Avatar the Last Airbender for example: an easy way to gain 1000G within one minute, and the publisher makes money. So what was it like playing games back when their weren't any achievements? Well I remember from my past that once I had beat a game, that would be it, I would never feel the need to play it again unless I really wanted to, or there were some form of in-game collectibles. Nowadays, we have the incentive to go that bit further, to feel like we've achieved something great, and to show off to the world what you can do. Essentially, achievements have extended the lifespan of a video game. Take a recent game like Transformers: Fall of Cybertron for example: back in the day, you would have completed the campaign, played a bit of multiplayer and let it collect dust; but now, for many gamers, that wouldn't be enough bang for their buck. In the Transformers game, there are achievements for finding hidden items or doing specific things in specific levels which you might have missed, meaning you've got to go back and do it again just to get the satisfaction of the "Achievement Unlocked" pop-up.
Below is an example of a "Gamercard". This is where the gamers get to show off their games and achievements.
There are often multiplayer achievements too. However, this can get aggravating with some games with almost no online community, because if you can't find anyone to play, you can't get the achievements. But, in more popular multiplayer games (like Battlefield 3), it just adds to the fun of unlockables, awards and so on. What developers want you to do is to play the game longer so you'll buy the DLC once you've logged enough hours into the game. For example, maybe there could be an achievement in a game for reaching the highest level in online multiplayer, but then the developer releases DLC that increases then level cap by five (like in Fallout New Vegas), so you'll buy it so you can reach the top again.
With gamerscore, there always will be split opinion, but however you feel about gaining points from your games, the introduction of achievements has certainly been a beneficial one for video game developers and publishers. What's more, gamerscore is completely optional and it never unlocks more content in a game if you get 1000G, meaning those who don't have the time to max out their gamerscore don't have to. Nevertheless, we're hoping that the rumors of achievements rewarding you with Microsoft points in the future is true, as it will certainly attract more "cheevo addicts."
Below is Ray Cox or "Stallion83",that's how we know him in the gaming world. He holds the Guinness World Record for the highest amount of gamerscore and is aiming for 1 million. He has currently over 700,000 gamerscore and counting.