Xbox One Achievements: Everything We Know So Far

With a new generation of consoles comes new breed of dynamic, amped-up achievements

When achievements were first unveiled on the Xbox 360, they staggered rather than sprinted out of the gate.  For a generation of gamers grown accustomed to in-game rewards and unlocks, the concept of “merit badges” that didn’t have any tangible effect was a bit of a tough sell.  The idea was quick to take hold in the fertile soil of gamers’ imaginations, however, spawning fierce competition and, at its peak, some very shameful acts (like playing Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Burning Earth or some of the worst movie tie-in drek of the last generation).  While the fervor around achievements may have subsided some, there are still plenty of gamers anxious for details about how the new console will handle achievements and our precious, hard-earned Gamerscore.  Here’s what we know so far.

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 Cross-game, cross-generational

Microsoft has confirmed that both Gamertags and Gamerscore will carry over from the Xbox 360, and that our profiles will be capable of spanning both consoles.  Achievements themselves will be able to bridge platforms and games, with the possibility of new achievements based on our 360 accomplishments.  This means game makers could reward gamers for, for instance, finishing every game in a trilogy that started on the 360 but which concludes on the Xbox One.  It also potentially allows designers to build “pyramids” of achievements: imagine a bestiary achievement for defeating every boss monster in a franchise, or an evolution achievement for defeating an enemy creature in each of the different forms it takes across multiple games.


The power of the cloud

Developers will also be able to dynamically push new achievements to the console through the cloud, adding them on the fly to capture the zeitgeist around their game.  The example Microsoft supplied at the Xbox One architecture panel was if Skyrim developers had been able to add new achievements based on the ubiquitous “arrow to the knee” meme that sprouted from their game. 

 Cloud-based achievements will also allow developers to point towards content or hidden features that they feel gamers might be missing, and will support the creation of smaller scale or time-limited Challenges.  Developers could challenge gamers to get a certain number of kills in a week or participate in a set number of ranked matches, and reward them accordingly.  Challenges give developers the opportunity to shape the way their game is being played post-release or to reward dedicated players.

Magical moments

The revamped achievement system will also take advantage of the Xbox One’s ability to capture video of “magic moments,” particularly critical or exciting points in games that can be automatically recorded by the game or recorded manually by gamers at any time.  It’s easy to envision a system where acquiring specific, high action achievements (like hitting a massive jump in a driving game or achieving an epic kill streak in a shooter) would automatically trigger the console to save video from the buffer to your hard drive. 

Just keep watching 

It sounds like the achievement system may encompass more than just games, however.  A recent article reports the possibility that Microsoft might dole out achievements for watching TV or specific video content.  According to a patent application the company filed, Microsoft hopes to steer users to specific content or advertising by incentivizing viewing with achievements, virtual money inside a game, or avatar rewards.  The application also mentions that Kinect could be integrated into this system and detect gamers doing specific things (or just being physically present) while content is being played on the console.

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Alan Bradley
Getting played by video games since the '80s. Host of the Pictures Changing Podcast ( and notorious raconteur.