GamerScore / Trophies: No longer just for bragging rights

During the Q&A session at Major Nelson’s PAX Prime Podcast, someone made a comment that after a certain point maintaining a high gamerscore almost becomes a mundane & thankless task. Oddly, there wasn’t any more discourse on the topic and it was pretty much skirted as a non-issue which I found shocking. These developers put so much effort in broadening the gamer market, that it only makes sense to put an equal amount of effort to maintain that group. To be fair, Major Nelson did say of the 23,000,000 active XBL users, the majority have a mean gamerscore ~20,000-23,000. The real hardcore gamers (like myself) are in the minority. Interestingly enough, there is a huge potential for publishers to take advantage of these numbers. I have a few ideas on this topic but here’s the most prevalent one:

Tiered Discounts Based on GamerScore / Trophies :
Quiet simply, why not provide a slight incentive to keep gamers playing? I know this idea may make a few gaming purist balk since it “cheapens” the gaming experience; but bear with me. Imagine the following:

  • 10,000-25,000 GS receive a 5% on select avatar items, game add-on’s, etc.
  • 50,000 GS receive a 10% on select avatar items, game add-on’s, etc.
  • 75,000 GS receive a 15% on select avatar items, game add-on’s, etc.
  • 100,000 GS receive a 20% on select avatar items, game add-on’s, etc.

Apparently, the bulk of most gamers sit right around 5,000-10,000 GS. The incentive marks could be set just slightly over the mean of each gaming segments (casual, moderate, hardcore, professional, etc.) ensuring only the earnest will be rewarded. This could even translate over to Games on Demand, Zune music, Netflix videos, and Marketplace games / apps. Furthermore, this could also tie into seasonal promotions or events (Superbowl, Playoffs, Elections, etc).

Conversely, the program could even be structured around certain game series. That one is a little fuzzy; but I’m thinking certain avatar items, add-ons’, in-game items can be unlocked or at least given a small discount based on the amount of achievements unlocked in previous titles. Say for example, Cliff Blezinski could provide ardent Gears players discounted modified weapons or maps in Gears of War 3 based on the amount time / achievements from the previous games. That one is a little far-fetched and raises some major game balance issues. But with a little tweaking, it may be a plausible strategy as well.

The possibilities are endless. It’s just a matter of how far the big 3 want to take it creatively. Aside from MS, Sony, and Nintendo, the partnering studios, networks, developers, etc. need their cut. Implementing such an incentive program means someone is going to have to take a cut somewhere. Not to mention, implementing such a program would be an operational nightmare. If such a program did evolve though; I just hope it would be a driving force to enhance the gaming, entertainment experience. I’m a gamer first and foremost. The last thing I’d want is for games to become laden with incentive-driven achievements just for the sake of driving up future sales. And on that note, let’s stop there. I can’t give away all my ideas. 🙂


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