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Achievement Unlocked: Watched TV

AJ Dellinger | 19 Mar 2012 09:00
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There's no hard evidence to support this theory, but I'm pretty confident that Microsoft somehow got their hands on the business plan for Skynet. They currently manufacture one of the most popular and arguably the most notable game console of this generation and have some form of Windows installed on about 90 percent of PCs around the globe. They also have phones and tablets, but those are the unicorns of the mobile market -- seriously, have you seen one in real life? Yet they aren't satisfied. In fact, they won't quit until the entirety of Xbox owners find no reason to leave their couches.

First and foremost, the Xbox 360 is a device for gaming. It was quite literally built for it.

The plan for Microsoft's multimedia takeover is to take the gaming juggernaut that is the Xbox 360, and accompanying Xbox Live online service, and pipe other forms of entertainment to the button-mashing masses. While services like Netflix, Hulu, and Last.fm all already offer an escape from the gaming grind, it's the big picture plan to bring in live streaming and on-demand content that would solidify the Xbox as the ultimate media machine.

With recent reports revealing that the subscription-based TV service will be placed on hold due to cost, Microsoft should take the time to step back from the whole Pinky and the Brain-esque, "Try to take over the world" approach and look at their plan as well as their market.

First and foremost, the Xbox 360 is a device for gaming. It was quite literally built for it. While the addition of Kinect and games that take advantage of the motion sensor and voice recognition have made the device somewhat more family oriented, the overwhelming majority of high-selling Xbox 360 titles are less than kid-friendly--18 of the 20 best-selling games on the console are rated "Mature." While no one can fault a company for attempting to expand their reach, it's the core of their consumer base that Microsoft must target to make their on-site TV stream.

Thanks to some of the improvements brought about by the latest generation of consoles and technical advancements, gamers have come to expect some particulars when it comes to their game experience. For example, a game that offers some worthwhile rewards in the form of achievements often will receive more play time. It's not unreasonable to consider applying similar rewards for consumption of other media. Is it a little shameful to watch the entire run of Firefly in a single sitting? Yes, but if it added 1000 Achievement points toward one's Gamerscore -- or alternatively a new score for other content -- then maybe I wouldn't set my status to "Appear Offline" while sitting with a pint of Ben and Jerry's in hand, muttering about how I wish Mal would just get with Inara already (too personal? Sorry).

Achievements are one of the defining aspects of the Xbox experience. The stockpiling of points functionally serves as little more than fodder for virtual pissing contests, their true worth comes from the value of fulfillment they provide. Any person can turn on their TV and watch the new episode of Parks and Recreation, so it has to be worthwhile to watch it on the Xbox. This is the answer to services like GetGlue, an application that allows users to "check-in" a la FourSquare when they sit down to watch their favorite show or movie. It's a badge of sort, and a way to broadcast what a user likes.

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