Features

The indie games and achievements problem

An indie solution....

If Microsoft had been serious about maintaining a thriving Indie scene on the Marketplace, it needed to allow creators to bundle Achievements with their games.

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Since 2005, Achievements have become the currency of every title. They're accepted records of progression and once one Achievement's unlocked, the game in question is forever stamped onto the gamer's profile: 'Person X played game Y on date Z.' Regardless of how good or bad the game may be, that record means something.

The primary focus when playing a game should always be how enjoyable it is - nothing else. But given Achievements' prominence in today's gaming scene, the awards add something meaningful to games for certain people.

It's why so many iPhone games, for instance, have their own 'medal' systems: to try and emulate the thrill of gathering Gamerscore.

So to deprive indie games of Achievements is essentially relegating them to the status of games unworthy of the system, and while there are plenty of shat indie titles to be avoided, every once in a while a gem does break through.

We can understand why Microsoft wouldn't want to attach Gamerscore points to indie games. Every developer going would churn out dozens of 'Press Start to earn 200G' for 80MSP and earn easy money. But Achievements and Gamerscore needn't go hand-in-hand.

Indie games could come with a handful of zero point Achievements: six would be a sensible number (exactly half the number of XBLA games).

That way, nobody would be able to boost Gamerscore with masses of terrible indie titles, nobody would be making games to increase Gamerscore either, but those indie titles that were getting purchased and played could get a little bit more exposure by appearing on Gamercards and profiles.

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Given how poorly Microsoft is pushing its indie portal, a little exposure would be a great thing indeed. Of course, there is the situation in which indie games can be removed by the owners, modified and resubmitted to the Marketplace: that practice would have to stop if Achievements were to work their way into the titles.

It's a sacrifice worth considering, however, to help push the forgotten front of Xbox 360 gaming into the spotlight it truly deserves.

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