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Gamerscore Is The New EverCrack

I just realised yesterday how clever Microsoft were when they introduced the Gamerscore to their Xbox Live profiles. It’s a neat little mechanism of addiction. If you’ve ever played in any game where you have an improvable ranking, you’ll likely know what I mean. The trick is, the Gamerscore is tied directly into each Xbox 360 game you play. Every game has a list of achievements that you can work toward, and each one you achieve bumps your Gamerscore up by ten-point increments. Nail down a particularly tricky achievement and you can find your Gamerscore has suddenly bumped up by thirty points!

The Gamerscore not only encourages you to play a given game, but it also rewards you for replaying it. Gears of War, for example, gives an achievement for completing each act in the campaign (I think there are somewhere between six and eight acts in total) on each level of difficulty, plus an achievement once you’ve completed the whole game on a given difficulty level. With three difficulty levels, this means that you could quite conceivably play the whole campaign through three times. On top of that, there are various achievements for feats, like five perfect reloads in a row, and high scores in multiplayer games.

What does the Gamerscore give you? Well, although Xbox Live’s Marketplace runs on a point-based currency (you exchange dollars for points), as far as I’m aware the only thing increasing your Gamerscore gives you is bragging rights. Still, that can be plenty. The main page for your Xbox Live profile has a feature where your Gamerscore is compared to that of one of the players on your Friends list. You cannot set this to null; you can only choose which player you’re currently being compared with. It tempts you to log back in and try to beat that level, or nail that perfect riff on Guitar Hero II, just so that you can top your mate’s score. And once you earn all the achievements in a given game, well, there are plenty more achievements in all those other games you don't own yet...

I must confess, I find myself thinking such whenever I look at EvilHayama’s Gamerscore. He’s only got – wait, what? How did he get to 545? He was only 330 not so long ago. Damn. Puts my measly 110 into perspective, and I doubt I’ll improve it by 135 points in 24 hours any time soon…

But I think that illustrates the point, anyway. That Gamerscore tempts you into devoting more of your waking hours to parking your arse in front of the console and spending more money on new games and maintaining your Live subscription, with all the attendant loss of health, spouse time and social life that entails, just to keep up with the 0wnz0rs (which, let's face it, is probably part of your behavioural pattern if you own a 360).

Okay, that's a bit harsh; a Gamerscore can be a source of good-hearted social joshing much as your unbroken losing streak in indoor soccer can be (more about that on the MySpace), and if you're careful with your budget, a Live subscription and the odd new game every so often shouldn't be a bank-breaker. But I still have to give a nod to Microsoft for how well they've subtly encouraged people who own their console to keep playing.

Smooth move, Bill. Smooth move...

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Muhahaha! My manly increase was when Caz came over and we got a ton of high-level Crackdown achievements :D

Sadly the system is a bit broken as there's no balancing between games. It took me hours of hard slog to get my point yesterday, but Komala plays Samurai warriors for under 2 hours and gets 270:

It has inspired shall we say "healthy competition" between us :P

ps, you don't need a gold account to share/see achievements, as far as I know the only thing gold gives you is online multiplayer.

Holy crap! 270 points with only three achievements? How did Komala do that? Pull off three different UltraHyperSuperCombos plus Fatality or something? (You can tell I've never played Samurai Warriors.)

Ah, well. Maybe next weekend... :-D

I told ya, some games just throw gamerscore at ya. King Kong and TMNT are famous for handing out 1000 points each in about 3 hours. Devaluing my hard work!

TMNT, huh? Hmm. Wonder how many Microsoft Points that is...

;-) Not that I'll be getting any Points until next week, anyway! All that socialising costs money!

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