When Xbox Achievement Points were introduced to the gaming world in 2005, they represented what their correspondent console was all about: games. Although Achievements haven’t changed much the eight years since (outside of developers being more clever in their dispersion), the Xbox 360 itself has proven more malleable, gradually increasing its emphasis on consuming movies, TV shows, music and more, reflecting the growing ambitions of console makers to own the broader living room experience.
Needless to say, the Xbox One picked up right where its predecessor left off. Microsoft is promising to take a centralized focus on games at this June’s E3, but if there was a message more resounding than any other during this week’s reveal of the next-gen console it’s that the company really, really, Steven Spielberg-producing-a-live-action-Halo-series-really wants you to watch TV on it.
And so Achievements might be following suit. GI International has uncovered a patent application from Microsoft detailing plans to integrate the Xbox One’s TV service with the same points-awarding system used in games. The main purpose, according to the description, is to infuse more engagement into the “passive” experience of the average television viewer:
“Television viewing tends to be a passive experience for a viewer, without many opportunities for the viewer to engage or have interactive experiences with the presented content. To increase interactive viewing and encourage a user to watch one or more particular items of video content, awards and achievements may be tied to those items of video content.”
Two examples cited of earning achievements through viewing were watching a single TV event, such as the Super Bowl, or completing an entire season of a show. The engagement part, however, is where things eventually grow a bit — since we’re talking TV — cartoonish.
Naturally, Microsoft sees a plethora of ad-revenue potential in its new system, and that’s fine — “Additionally, by tying the awards and achievements to particular items of video or advertising content, viewers may be encouraged to increase their viewership of the content, thus increasing advertising opportunities,” the application claims.
But then Kinect gets involved. Microsoft envisions using the motion-sensing device to award points for specific physical actions performed during a program (interesting), and simply being present when a something plays (nothing wrong there). But it also seeks to coax viewers to holding up consumer products during a program, with Kinect then scanning the product to award an achievement.
Now, with the right amount of innovation we can see television, Kinect 2.0, and the encouragement of earning achievements that many gamers find gratifying coalescing into a pretty cool experience. We can also the see the system stripping Achievements Points of any skill- or devotion-based merit, and the highest earners no longer being those who pour effort into games but rather those who remember have a box of Doritos Cool Ranch Locos Tacos handy during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In more ways than one, all that’s left in the end are fragments of a shell.
But as with all patent applications, the uses are preliminary and the inception is uncertain. What would you think if Microsoft made the aforementioned, TV-based changes to achievements on the Xbox One?
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.