Microsoft says it isn't working on the Xbox career system, but it should be


Achievements (Image credit: Windows Central)

In recent months, we've been covering the so-called Xbox "Career" system, which looked as though it would be rewarding players in ways beyond Gamerscore. Sadly, it doesn't look like it's on the way, but it should be!

At present, games for Xbox Live on Xbox One and Windows 10 reward players with points for achieving specific things in games, as defined by the developers of said games. You might earn 50 achievement points for completing a game, 20 for killing a specific monster, and so on – the triggers are limitless. The career system appeared to be far more dynamic, however, rewarding players with EXP and levels in ways that go far beyond the games themselves.

As recently as March 2018, it looked as though the Xbox Career system was in active development, with code commits to the Xbox and active subdomains. However, Xbox Platform VP Mike Ybarra said the career system is not in active development, while acknowledging the positive reactions.

Xbox "Career" subdomains we expected were in use to develop these systems.

Xbox "Career" subdomains we expected were in use to develop these systems.

If Microsoft is truly not working on the career system, here's why it really should.

Gamerscore isn't representative

Xbox achievements are not only hugely popular, they are one of Microsoft's key platform innovations in the industry. There are websites dedicated to Gamerscore (such as TrueAchievements) and YouTube channels (such as Maka91). Most users on Xbox Live have a few thousand Gamerscore, but there are people out there with over a million.

My buddy Rand has over a million Gamerscore.

The popularity of the Xbox achievement system has spawned various copycats, including PlayStation's trophy system, Steam's own achievement system, and Blizzard's in-game achievement systems. As for Xbox, the system has remained largely unchanged since its launch, which, as games have evolved, has become severely out of date.

While some achievements do reward player skill or time investment, you can rack up a high Gamerscore fairly quickly by focusing on games that are not only specifically easy to get points for, but are quite cheap to buy. Before the rise of indie titles via ID@Xbox, games with 1000 potential Gamerscore attached to them were usually of a premium price point before sales.

Sometimes you'll see gamers refer to a player's Gamerscore as indicative of their skill or dedication, but in a world of esports, and service-driven games that get perpetual updates, it has become increasingly common place for gamers to stick with a single title for several months, or longer. Gamerscore isn't kind to players who don't have the cash to splash on tons of games, or simply aren't interested in the achievement hunting metagame.

Reward all players

The Gamerscore leaderboard fosters friendly competition between achievement hunters.

The Gamerscore leaderboard fosters friendly competition between achievement hunters.

You could argue that the point of Gamerscore is to try and incentivize gamers to buy more games. There's certainly a monetary value attached to Gamerscore, where smaller games, such as those on Windows Phone, typically only offered around 200 Gamerscore.

The career system would have celebrated gamers of all types equally. Gamerscore doesn't do this.

The value of achievements has diminished in recent years, as indie titles flood Xbox One and Windows 10, gradually trivializing the accomplishment associated with Gamerscore.

Gamerscore doesn't need to be replaced – not at all. It's just that there are simply more ways to engage with Xbox Live than there was previously, and it's about time Microsoft allowed players to showcase their gamer cred in other ways.

We previously heard that Microsoft was planning to reward players with EXP, levels, and maybe even digital items such as Avatar props and clothes for engaging on Xbox Live in various ways. These systems would have sat alongside Xbox achievements, displaying a player level next to the Gamerscore figure on your profile card. Some of the code strings we saw rewarded EXP for things like time spent playing games, trying new games, sharing content on Xbox Live, and indeed, earning achievements.

I have no doubt that Microsoft was at some point working on these systems. Microsoft noted to us previously that it was looking into ways to reward players beyond Gamerscore exactly for the reasons outlined here.

Gamifying the behavioral data being harvested as you move across the Microsoft ecosystem would have been the perfect way to keep players invested in their time on Xbox Live, making positive contributions. Whether you buy hundreds of indie titles for quick achievements, spend hundreds of hours perfecting your PUBG skills, or actively stream and create content, the career system would have celebrated gamers of all types equally. Gamerscore doesn't do this.

Bring the career system to life

The career system would have been the perfect way to modernize and futureproof the gamification of Xbox Live, complimenting Xbox achievements instead of replacing them.

Whether the career system was simply a prototype that never made it, a side project that was never intended to be seen, a complete misinterpretation on my part, or some kind of elaborate hoax – I have no idea. What I do know is that it seems rather awesome. Even if we never get this particular system, the idea of showcasing different types of gamers beyond an individual's will to harvest achievement points is something worth exploring.

Is this something you'd like to see? Let us know in the comments.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Microsoft should do alot of things but they won't so there's no point in saying they should do something
  • I think Microsoft got spooked by the loot box issue. They probably had items that could be purchased for your avatar. They've said alot about wanting to improve achievements so it's hard to believe they would abandon a system that clearly offers improvement. Here's hoping they can rework their plans away from micro-transactions at a later date.
  • maybe. back one Xbox 360 a lot of their first party games had avatar rewards for achievements it was pretty cool but since avatars have gone to the wayside it isn't as cool anymore.
  • I disagree! There is nothing more sad than turning games into jobs or chores just for a number to go up. Let's just play games for the fun of it!
  • Pandora's box has already been opened in that regards(e-sports, and loot boxes). And fun is subjective.
  • I think some people ask for it as a kind of appreciation or reward for the long time they put into games
  • The way I see it is, why should you be rewarded? Games serve only one purpose, entertainment. The reward should be from the experience of the game, not because you got 10 kills with a sniper.
    EDIT: I know I seem pretty pessimistic here, but it bothers me when achievements start to interfere with other players. Sea of thieves is a good example, they will do anything but actually play the game to get a random achievement. Shooters are also bad about this, I remember Halo 3 had very specific multiplayer achievements where entire lobbys would dedicate to getting it rather than playing the slayer match I wanted. I say all this being an ex cheevo hunter myself, it did nothing but make me loathe some of my favorite games for all the needless grinding I did.
  • Achievement hunting is a choice. If you don't like the gamer it turns you into, then don't do it.
  • @Yoshi
    Totally agree. I wish gaming is all about just playing games and that gamers aren't tempted to do things they wouldn't normally do.
  • So the thing with loot box for avatar system is a hoax ? Or were related to this ? I'm lost 😶
  • Wasn't a hoax, but looks like it was cancelled.
  • Definitely they should implement this as it increases more mindshare and brand awareness for xbox. When you add in xbox play anywhere then the reach of xbox just expands 100 fold. On playstation the trophies are simply just stats, xbox achievements is in danger of becoming the same as other platforms seek to replicate it. My only concern about the career system is the aspect of having to play a set number of games per day. It should be optional not a mandatory requirment.
  • Nicely written article once again, but this time I'll disagree.
    Of your last article I could see things like get EXP point by "Simply playing a set number of games per day.". I saw the term "daily quests" and as a gamer I felt that it was an insult. For me it's a bit patronizing or mocking players. Gamers do quest when they play games. I would like to believe players play games because they enjoy it. But for me it looks like marketing people use the term to make us feel like it's a game when it's clearly not. Like I said on the other topic this is tempting gamers to change or modify what they would do just so they can pay more money or simply to do things they wouldn't normally do. My concern is that this will be used to tempt players into spending more money and not necessarily for gaming... ofc at the end of the day if MS are doing this I don't think they are doing this to solve the problem about a player playing only one game.
    The way I see it is that achievements is great and is enough. They can introduce extra achievements based on the number of games or in-game hours you spend on a game but that's it. Why complicate things? Also if you're only playing one game aren't the stats of that game enough? And finally, I just hope they spend time and resources on more important things. I think XB has major flaws and hope they focus more on that rather then just use this as smokes and mirrors to hide the flaws... PS: Nice to see you mention Rand, I watch some of his video on youtube, sounds like a cool guy...
  • @Guest_aotf. In the insider the programme there are or were "quests" to test features when I was actively participating. However these days I do not have the time and I am not confident most of the decent feedback is even being acknowledged. Simply because it would take insane number of people to individually respond to / collate the feedback generated into useful information in terms of feature and function planning. Without a dedicated Quality assurance team (programmatic testers) there is no way the developers can test, reiterate, code, reiterate endlessly as it's simply not possible. The only way to do this is to have programmatic testers and a team of vast number of people collating the feedback into useable information. However this is very, very, tedious.... and mind numbing if you have to do this every. single. day.
  • Daily quest was just the way I wrote it, I have no idea if that's what they would have called it in the end. Guess this is the problem with showing off features that are in-development. Of course this would have been all about engagement, but it's also a fun meta thing, which as someone who spends a lot of time game, I would've enjoyed.
  • Personally I don't care about any of that stuff. I am an old school gamer and I'd like Xbox to be mainly focused on games right now because that is where they are lacking. Not to say that Xbox doesn't have any games but they could have a lot more in a lot more genres, like JRPGs/RPGs. I don't care about avatar stuff as I don't even use my avatar, I use a custom logo. Xbox got the X out and brought OG Xbox games to BC but now is the time to focus on not only new IPs and exclusives but also bringing more third party games in the MMO, RPG, Strategy/Tactical genres. Let us not forget single player games either. People have put 100's of hours into some really good single player games but yet the focus seems to be moving to multiplayer. I don't want to deal with some of the more childish players in multiplayer all the time so sometimes I need that really good story driven/open world single player game. Don't care about gamer score, achievements or showing off to other people. I just want to have fun. Somewhere along the line it seems a lot of the industry has forgotten that.
  • Why not have both?
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