How Xbox Achievements Are Changing

When the Xbox One launches in November, Microsoft's achievements system will undergo its biggest overhaul since its implementation. There will be two kinds of achievements. Stuff you can earn that aren't achievements, achievements for watching TV and more.


First things first: you can now earn more than just regular achievements. Those are mostly staying as they are (more on that later). Alongside them, games will also set you "challenges", which will be limited in availability, mostly pegged to real-world timeframes. Interestingly, these can span games, potentially including genres, series or a publishers catalogue.

Challenges can also be achieved cumulatively, an example given by Microsoft being "a headshot weekend challenge that requires players to cumulatively headshot one million baddies in a three-day period. And every person who participates and meets the challenge’s goals gets the unlock on his or her achievement history and reaps its reward."

Both achievements and challenges can be "unlocked", both will display in your game history as having been something you've earned, but challenges won't count towards your gamerscore. I'd imagine they'll be used as much for older games as new ones, something like "revisit this old game's multiplayer for new challenges!".

The Cloud

Microsoft is unshackling achievements from games, and putting them in the "cloud". What does this mean? It means achievements for games can be fluid, added after a game's release (presently, new achievements can only be added via DLC), altered by feedback or even designed by fans.

Artwork Unlocked

Achievements no longer only unlock... achievements. Or avatar gear. They can now also be rigged to provide users with "digital artwork, new maps, unlockable characters and temporary stat boosts".

This sounds great. But it comes with a caveat.

TV, TV, TV, Sport, Sport, Sport

Games aren't the only things that will grant you achievements. You can now earn them doing other stuff on your Xbox One, like watching video or using music apps. Completionists can expect to spend a lot of time... doing stuff that's not gaming.

On the bright side, only games will give you points towards your gamerscore. These extra-curricular ones are only for side-benefits.

That's all the main stuff. If you want to read the fine print, much of it useless without a good look at the systems actually in action, there's a rundown over on Major Nelson's site.


    Watching TV gets you an achievement?? Thats ridiculous. "oh look bro, see the achievement i got for watching the entire Suits Season 1 in one sitting. How awesome is that? sick"

      Is it any better than getting an achievement for playing the one game for 8 hours straight?

        Achievements are a joke anyway, but getting one for doing something mundane like watching TV on your xbox, is just sinking things to new lows.

          These extra-curricular ones are only for side-benefits.
          It isn't a Gamerscore "look at what I did" thing for them (and probably not for just sitting there watching a show either, unless its like "watch the whole series of Firefly and get an Avatar Browncoat").
          That having been said, you don't want to do it, DON'T.

            Yeah, but what if I don't want anyone to know I watched some shitty show on TV? This will potentially be more embarrassing than having 1,000 GS in Avatar...

            "Oh hai! Noticed you got an achievement for watching Desperate Housewives and The Kardashians last night..."

              So watch it directly on your TV, not via your XBox. Your guilty secret is safe.

          Here's a complex solution to your problem:

          Don't participate.

      Positive note on the whole watching Suits. It is a great show.

      Watching TV is a much more sedentary activity than playing a video game. 8 hours worth of video games does NOT equal 8 hours of watching TV. Especially in terms of energy expenditure.

      The new Xbox is really pushing kids to spend much more time on the lounge, then doing other more active things. I am surprised parents are more annoyed about this.

        Try and convince yourself all you want, but it's just as sedentary as tv unless you are playing Wii or Kinect.

    Thank you. I needed a good laugh to get me through to the weekend.

    I'm wondering what 'in the Cloud' actually means. They'd still need to put them in via a game update which from the users end is how they're doing it now. The only thing stopping them is Microsoft policy. Is there an actual practical difference or are they just wedging Cloud into the conversation to artificially increase the list of Cloud features?

      Presumably, the existing Achievements are baked into the game, whereas the new ones would have some sort of "call Achievements" reference built in that then pulls the list of Achievements from a server somewhere. That list can then be changed whenever, and the game will just pull the most recent list.

      That would mean, in theory, that they couldn't set up an Achievement for something they weren't already tracking in the in-game code without an update. If they wanted to give you one for "kill an enemy with his own gun" but the game makes no distinction between a kill with one gun or with another gun, they'd have to either get clever with the tracking (track "take gun from enemy" and then "kill enemy without changing weapon") or update the game.

      This is all conjecture, though.

        Yep, that sounds about right.

        Right now, achievements cannot be added to an existing game. Well, there is a way - DLC.

        The cloud based achievements mean developers can give you more achievements without you having to download anything. So achievements are not tied to the game software, but processed from the cloud servers.

          So basically what you're trying to say is, the PS3's trophies work better than the 360's achievements?

          Right now, achievements cannot be added to an existing game. Well, there is a way - DLC.

          The cloud based achievements mean developers can give you more achievements without you having to download anything.

          But that's how they work now. The only reason it requires Marketplace DLC is because of Microsoft policy. The system probably isn't setup for it but technically they could add 10k gs in a title update (and the game is always going to require a title update to get the game to track the achievement). It doesn't read the achievements from the game it reads them from XBOX Live, and then their status is changed via the game.

          Micheal is most likely correct but I'm more wondering how Cloud is making a noticeable difference. It seems like the policy change is going to make the difference and the Cloud aspect is inconsequential.

          Last edited 14/06/13 11:45 am

            Ahhh. Penny just dropped. It could mean achievement tracking can be done in the Cloud. If there's a "Kill 10,000 Locust" achievement and your storage dies, your save file gets corrupted or you just delete your character your existing kills will be safe in the Cloud separate from your save file data.

            [Edit: As well as all the stuff Micheal mentioned, but those are policy changes.]

            Last edited 14/06/13 11:44 am

      I think you nailed it with wedging Cloud features.
      People reacted badly (to say the least) to being forced to be online every 24 hours. The more things "In The Cloud", the more they can say it wasn't a decision solely about DRM.
      But I'm a cynic.

      One possibility is that the game continuously uploads a large set of metrics to a backend service, and that service decides to give out achievements.

      It would only be able to construct achievements based on those metrics, but it could be enough to handle things like the "headshot weekend" example.

    well i aint getting any tv achivements, i dont watch tv now and buying an xbone wouldn't change that

      Many people watch Game of Thrones on their TV, Someday there might be an achievement just for watching a show which you might already be watching anyway.

      It's passive. Nothing wrong with this at all.

        Except MS will force you to watch Game Of Thrones through their expensive TV-app where you pay $5.99 (I made this up) per episode to watch it, in order to get the achievement

        Game of Thrones sucks, i aint wathcing that crap

          Millions of people disagree with you, and will continue 'wathcing' when the next season airs.

            i do not care what those millions of other people think about Game of Toilets, i dont like it its a dumb show, and i have no care for most peoples opinions


              Out of interest what are the reasons you don't like GOT?

              You are the first person I've ever heard with so much hate for GOT, I'm not sure what GOT did to you but I'm sure the Lannisters send their regards.

                the annoying sex scenes, the terrible actors, the horible story, the boring fight scenes to name a few

    I don’t understand achievements unlocking unlockable characters or maps etc., Isn’t that something that is already built into games? Like, if you beat every SF character with “Perfect” you get a secret character unlocked at the end. With Xbone you’ll then get an achievement. Xbone is now claiming that the “achievement” is giving you the secret character but it was actually the game itself rewarding you.

      I guess the advantage now is that they can be cross-platform. So you could set up an achievement like "watch the new episode of Hannibal" or "listen to the new Rihanna single", and then have that achievement unlock a reward in your game.

      Which is cool in theory, although in practice it'll be cross-promotion between one thing you like and a dozen you hate, and completionists like me will just get angry that I can't get an achievement because they're not showing Hannibal over here yet or whatever.

        We already have those cross-promotion things on xbox though, and they were almost universally reviled by gamers (see Halo and Doritos, or Halo and Mtn Dew, or Halo and Pizza Hut).

    Achievement Unlocked: Master Time Waster
    Watched every episode of Master Chef, Ready Steady Cook and My Kitchen Rules.

    Somewhat off topic, but damn that is a sexy controller.

      dat ass....thetically pleasing controller is most enchanting.

    Erg, I see watching advertisements becoming 'achievements', I am not happy with MS and their direction with the XBOX ONE.

    Watch TV and gain achievements ?? What a load of total utter horsesh*t !

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