Microsoft's Great Patent Application: Xbox Achievements For Watching Advertising

from the sorry-i-wasn't-paying-attention dept

You may recall the concern some have raised over Smart TVs, those internet connected glowing boxes with cameras ripe for exploits that would allow hackers to watch you watch TV. Supposedly less nefarious were concerns over technology that would allow those same Smart TVs to recognize when you had left the room or were looking away, subsequently dimming the screen to conserve energy. Whether or not either is a concern rising to the levels of epidemic privacy invasion, one thing that is clear is that the general public is a bit dubious about being monitored within their own living rooms.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how that same public reacts if Microsoft actually decides to implement the technology described in their shiny new patent application, which describes how the Xbox One console could monitor your body, eyes, and heartbeat to determine if you’re actually watching advertising and then reward you for it with Xbox achievements.

The patent, snappily titled “Awards and achievements across TV ecosystem”, describes camera sensors monitoring the eye movements and heartbeats of TV viewers. Which means a console will know if you’re in the room when an ad break is on, or if you’ve popped out to make tea. It’ll also be able to tell whether you’re actually watching the ad or if you’re engrossed in the latest issue of Heat magazine. And don’t even think about gaming the system by watching telly with the lights off: the XBox would be able to monitor you even in the dark.

Every move you make, every breath you take, the Xbox would be watching you – but also rewarding you. The patent suggests that sitting through commercial breaks would rack you up points to buy both virtual and physical awards. The thinking behind this being that people today need to be bribed in order to sit still and watch a commercial. As the patent application explains: “With the proliferation of digital video recording devices, advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to introduce their advertisements to viewers.”

While the above can be slightly misleading in that this is a patent application, not a granted patent, the response to it is the same. Fun, right? Here’s the problem. I am aware that, at some level, everything about video games is reward-based. The obvious Xbox achievements are in place and people ostensibly seek them out, though I have yet to attain any modicum of understanding as to why people do this. Less obvious is the concept of gaming in general. Get to the next level. See that next cut-scene. Advance the plot. Unlock the new weapon, the new armor, or the new ability to shoot a bad guy directly in the balls. These are things that are important to gamers. It might therefore seem natural to build a rewards-based system for advertising as well within this audience.

Except advertisements are different, aren’t they? If we’re skipping ads, it’s because they’re an annoyance. Whereas stopping the bad guy, winning the World Series, or uncovering a mystery are all integral to the playing of whatever game we’re enjoying, advertisements are, by definition, a break from what we’re actually interested in doing. In fact, the label of “achievement” itself relating to watching advertising reeks of a gross misnomer. Granted, being able to stomach a minute’s worth of Miss Cleo advertising may seem like a challenge, but it isn’t an achievement in the same way.

More importantly, as the article notes, getting people to watch ads isn’t a problem solved by some kind of Pavlovian reward system. It’s solved by having creative, interesting, and entertaining ads.

The proliferation of digital video recording devices is something of a red herring when it comes to ad-viewing. After all, people aren’t forced to skip the ads when they watch a time-shifted show; rather, they’re free to watch them over and over again if they like. Just, err, most people don’t like. Research conducted by Deloitte in 2010 found that 90% of TV viewers always skip through the adverts on their DVR. But the answer to stopping this behaviour doesn’t lie in sophisticated motion-detecting technology, it lies in making ads that people actually want to watch. The biggest threat to advertising isn’t technology like Sky+; the biggest threat to advertising is bad advertising.

Because advertising is content and content is advertising. And these invalidating arguments are made without even bothering to touch upon the public’s reaction to being watched through the all-seeing eye in Microsoft’s device. In a world where authors like Rand and Orwell are well-read, I expect a line to be drawn between cameras in the public square and cameras within our own walls. That this would be done to solve a problem better solved through smarter means is a fact I hope won’t be lost on anyone.

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft's Great Patent Application: Xbox Achievements For Watching Advertising”

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108 Comments
Anonymoussays:

There are actually some ads I enjoy watching such as the few year old Geico commercials and the Old Spice Odor Blocker Bodywash commercials.
A recent ad I’ve really enjoyed is the Wonderful Anthem Oreo commercial which combines a catchy tune with stylized animation for a great feel-good commercial.
However I find most to be either boring or flat out annoying to the point where I just mute it and do something else.
And then there are the food commercials which should be prohibited from airing after the restaurant is closed.

Then there is a separate matter entirely. Commercial breaks seem to be getting longer and show times are getting shorter. This makes telling a compelling story in a 30 minute time block (really 22 or so minutes depending on the show) increasingly harder to do, decreasing the quality of the programming.
I’m finding less and less shows that air in a 30 minute time block to be enjoyable. Nearly all of the shows I watch anymore are hour time blocks because they have more time to make a better paced episode (which is still just about 44 minutes).

Anonymoussays:

Re:

My current favorite commercial is the ATT commercial about the guy looking for infinity plus infinity and the little girl says “What about infinity times infinity?” and the guy makes the head explodes gesture. I don’t watch a lot of commercials, but the ones worthy of a Cleo award are always worth stopping for IMO.

out_of_the_bluesays:

Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

That’s almost the only choice one has against commercial products. It’s not very effective because millions of dolts accept it without an instant of thought on The Future Worse.

But you kids have an insane compulsion to play games on gadgets, and the baseless notion that you have some control over mega-corporations that constantly ratchet up marketing you to other mega-corporations. We’re now to the “cameras within our own walls” stage.

krusty-gsays:

Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

True, but seeing who it’s coming from I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that any agreement would result in the painful follow up “and that’s what I’ve been saying about dirty pirates too, so ha ha you agree with me”.
I’d love to see this glass half full but as the saying goes: “Fool me once – shame on you, be a constant dbag every single day since creating an account for this site – umm……lots more shame on you”

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

Not forgetting the assumption of playing games on gadgets. Seriously, I play a lot of analogue games myself, and most people I know enjoy a good game that’s not on a console or handheld. This assertion that we’re all Call of Duty fanatics is another out of the broadbrush moment.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

I think Blue blew it out of the water. Some of us older folks here tend to have had a much better experience in discovering a game’s secrets. The best example as to how achievements have affected people who like going after them is the sudden rash of “Help, I’m stuck, How do I duck?!” When playing Super Metroid….a game that requires you to find things on your own. Could you imagine if it had achievements? I swear if the VC versions of Metroid and Super Metroid had achievements, they would mostly be along the lines of “get this suit” or “get that powerup”….see the spoon feeding it can cause that make people so stupid?

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

“The best example as to how achievements have affected people who like going after them is the sudden rash of “Help, I’m stuck, How do I duck?!” “

I fail to see how achievements help or hinder in that situation. That is a lack of knowledge of which button makes your character duck. Something which wouldn’t be helped or hindered by an achievement.
Also, I must ask, what achievements you’re looking at. Granted, I play mainly PS3, but their trophy system is basically the same as Xbox 360 achievements. Going by that, nothing really spoils the game from what I’ve seen. Half the time, you’re told merely the title of the Trophy/Achievement, but not how to get it. So what if I’m playing say Tekken 6 and I find there’s an achievement for say winning ten online battles in a row? It’s not like knowing there’s an achievement for gunning down 20 terrorists in Call of Duty Number Whatever ruins the game or means exploration has been lost.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

I have to admit I’m struggling to think of achievements that fit what Wally is claiming. About the only one that comes to mind is unlocking the 1999 mode in Bioshock Infinite, but that pops after completing the game as well as by entering a Konami code thingy into the menu. Everything else is either vital to the plot (so you get it anyway) or intended to be collected on a second playthrough. I fail to see how the game would be improved by not having a hint that this mode exists.

I also just looked at my Trueachievements list of achievements that I’ve unlocked in the most recent game I’ve been playing – Alan Wake (yep, I play older/borrowed/used games as well, hence my objections to MS’s current tactics). I see the last 3 achievements I’ve popped – completing the second episode, collecting 25 of a certain object (not specifically placed objects that could ruin a first play) and dodging attacks in a specific way 20 times. How any of these undermine the gameplay or enjoyment of the game is beyond me.

If Wally has specific types of achievement in mind, perhaps he can furnish us with the details. But, as far as I can see, it’s way down on the list of things that make modern games inferior (if you believe that at all, which is of course subjective). I can understand the concerns about modern games being easier or requiring less lateral thinking, but I don’t see how achievements are to blame.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

I know that, but this discussion is about achievements. Wally seems to either not understand what achievements are on the XBox 360, or he’s deliberately trying to muddy the argument. He’s saying that achievements are breaking modern gaming. I want him to explain why.

If the obsession is what he’s worried about, why does he laud the obsessive collecting that can take place in games like the Final Fantasy series but attack the same thing in more modern games?

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

Nothing insightful here, just one of ootb’s tactics when he has nothing to say (but can’t stop typing something anyway).

See my comment below in this thread – some of us have tried the not buying tactic before. The lost sales gets blamed on piracy or some other scapegoat. Nothing wrong with making sure the actual reasons get noticed this time around.

ootb’s comment is only insightful if you buy into his delusion that the people complaining are just going to buy the console regardless. Believe me, many of will not.

Pragmaticsays:

Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

It’s one of the other two Blues, that’s why. They’re an eeny bit saner.

That said, this is an unusually lucid comment and I’ve given it an Insightful vote.

“Just don’t buy it” has some merit as advice, but as others have pointed out, failure to buy may be blamed on “teh piratez.” I should also point out that proprietary software providers have a habit of trying to monitor and control us. All the more reason to support OS.

PaulTsays:

Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

As I keep explaining to you intellectual lightweights – I’m not going to buy it, at least not until these issues have been addressed. That doesn’t stop me telling you why.

There are 2 reasons why this is still being discussed by those of us who are boycotting it. One is to make our complaints heard so that they can be addressed before release – that is, some of us do wish to upgrade at some point, but the current offer on the table is unacceptable. The second is that if this fails and people start whining about how it was piracy or some other excuse – we can point back to the actual complains pre-release and say, “you should have listened”. Because I’m sure that certain camps will try the blatant lies to try and pretend to shareholders that they didn’t make the wrong moves.

Sadly, you’re firmly in the “buy it however we want you to buy it” camp of corporate sycophancy. Which is why you constantly fail to address anything people are actually saying in this or any other article. I’m not going to buy it. I’m also not going to stop pointing out why, unless those issues are addressed.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

“As I keep explaining to you intellectual lightweights – I’m not going to buy it, at least not until these issues have been addressed. That doesn’t stop me telling you why.”

PaulT, Microsoft had already outlined that they are doing this. Whether you like it or not, they WILL NOT FIX IT IF THEY FEEL IT ISN’T BROKE. This is the same company who “enhanced” the Windows Platform in Windows 8….and confused the living fuck out of average users and CompTIA certified individuals alike.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

Indeed. But, I’m still going to outline that despite being largely a 360 gamer in this last generation, I’m not buying this one in its current state. (I own all 3 consoles, but found myself using the 360 the most – in part because I like the achievement system). I also haven’t bought any copies of Windows 8, because they similarly screwed the pooch there.

MS can listen to me, or not, but to assume that I’m going to blindly buy it just because it’s new and shiny is just one of the many logical fallacies ootb depends on for his “point”.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

Seems someone, somewhere divided by zero. I will whole heartedly support OOTB’s comment on this subject because a lot of my child clients, who have nothing wrong with them, require spoon feeding on how to discover things on their own. Achievements in games have only spoon fed a whole generation of gamers of things to look for to unlock certain game features. They have (albeit inadvertently) given people a chore list rather than an actual chance to play through and enjoy the game for what it is….a game…

Rikuosays:

Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

“But you kids have an insane compulsion to play games on gadgets,”

You’ve somehow done it OOTB. Yours must be the first comment on Techdirt that is both reported AND voted Insightful enough times.
Anyway, I can agree with the people who reported it. While I agree with the “Don’t buy it” attitude, the reason you got reported is that you had to make an ad-hom attack. In case you haven’t yet learned, very few Techdirt readers are kids. Most of us are adults and of those who know about the Xbone, very few of us want one. I myself am not getting either it or the PS4. The PS4 is a mid-powered gaming PC at its most basic while the Xbone has an always-on camera watching me, and about a third of its resources are tied up with a TV OS that I would never use (especially since the set top box in my apartment is in the living room, not my bedroom which is where I game).
So you ruined your own comment. You could have left out the pointless attack and everything would have been fine. I would have clicked Insightful on it myself, but no, you failed.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

“But you kids have an insane compulsion to play games on gadgets, and the baseless notion that you have some control over mega-corporations that constantly ratchet up marketing you to other mega-corporations. We’re now to the “cameras within our own walls” stage.”

That’s not adhom attack one bit!!!

I think he understands nobody wants what Microsoft is pushing, and the idiots that reported him didn’t read his post carefully enough.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: Just don't buy it. Problem solved.

“”But you kids have an insane compulsion”

I call that ad-hom. He calls us kids, when most of us are adults, playing video games is not insane and actually for most of us, not a compulsion. At least for myself, I’ve actually found I’m playing games a lot less than I used to. For example, I’ve spent more time soft-modding my Wii console over the past couple of weeks than I have playing actual games on it.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

Whoever thought of the idea “hey, lets create a game where people compete to do the best job watching advertisements” musta not been thinking.

Hey, maybe it’s a good idea. Maybe a game show where an advertisement is shown and then people are asked to answer a question about the advertisement. Bonus points if they can answer a question about the product where the answer is not even in the advertisement. Whoever gets the most points wins!!!!

Alt0says:

Re: Re:

Already done. Viggle and their “Live” events (think Superbowl, Academy Awards) They quizz you on adds for additional points.
BTW if you are not familiar with Viggle its an app (iOS-Android) that listens to your TV as you watch and awards points for the shows you watch. You can then spend the points you “earned” on merchandise in their Rewards part of the app.
I stopped using it being they no longer offer iTunes Store credit for points.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Maybe a game show where an advertisement is shown and then people are asked to answer a question about the advertisement.

That is very nearly the premise of the ancient TV game show “The Price is Right”. Almost all the questions/games are about the price of the prizes, but you do have to listen to what are effectively commercials about them.

Uriel-238says:

Punishing viewers...et. al.

How long will it [be] before such technology is used to punish viewers for not watching ads?

Rekrul brings up a relevant point regarding function creep. Monitoring devices that are set up for innocuous purposes are later used to implement intrusive purposes. Already, Big Micro is looking increase charges for some services based on face-counts.

I wonder if it will be possible to hack the camera by setting up a diarama in front of the it with wide-eyed, unblinking paper “viewers”.

Thanks to Anonymous Coward for introducing me to the Wonderfilled Anthem.

Wallysays:

More ammunition...

I will tell you all one thing here and now. Sony and Nintendo aren’t going the route Microsoft is going for a specific reason. I love how it is only the Japanese companies and their Japanese divisions understanding their customer base.

I am a Nintendo fan, but I do have a respect for Sony for having a very hack able platform in the PS3 and I’m hoping that extends into the realm of the PS4.

As for Nintendo, any IC expert will tell you that it is a much more capable system than XBOX One. One has to merely take a look at how close the CPU and GPU are together to realize how fast the system bus is. It’s very wide, very short, and it has 512MB of what would normally be considered lvl 2 cache on x86 64….I mean it’s CPU can instantly process 512MB at a time. Then there’s the fact that an additional 1024MB of esRAM is attached to the GPU….and the system is natively 1080p in output in all games.

I'm A Gamersays:

Re: More ammunition...

After Sony made their PS4 announcement in April, I got all excited because I knew it wouldn’t be long until Microsoft announced their next-gen Xbox. I fully planned on buying whatever they released on day one… until everything about it finally came to light. What a huge disappointment.

1) XB1 won’t work if Kinect 2.0 isn’t connected.
2) XB1 won’t let you play your games if it can’t phone home via the internet.
3) XB1 will require game activation, tying them to your console & account alone.
4) MS is choosing to focus more on entertainment and ads than games.
5) XB1 requires a monthly fee for things like online play to work (Xbox Live Gold).
6) Expected retail price will be around $400

So basically Microsoft has created a way to spy on consumers with no way to bypass it and your games can’t be used on another box, effectively killing the used market, the rental market, the ability to trade with friends/family, the ability to lend to friends/family, and the ability to simply give away your games to friends/family as a free gift when you’re done with it. Unless people are willing to pay a hefty activation fee to Microsoft each time a game changes hands that is.

Microsoft is setting themselves up to be the man in the middle whom people pay in order to access services that must also be paid for (Netflix for example). They also seem to be marketing the XB1 more at regular joes than gamers. Apparently Microsoft is positive it’s going to be the next big thing because it’s a (gimmicky) “entertainment system” that can do DVR stuff and play bluray movies. The problem is that everyone likely already owns all the equipment the XB1 seeks to replace. Who doesn’t already have a bluray player? Who doesn’t already have a DVR (often included with a cable service)?

And as for things like Internet Explorer, Twitter, Bing, Facebook, and so on, well people already have a PC to do all of these activities on. A PC is arguably better suited too, not to mention what most folks are already used to. Basically the Xbox One is just an expensive, glorified PC with a ton of super restrictive DRM shoved in. I just don’t see how they can claim this is going to be a big success, but then they were pretty sure Windows 8 was going to be a huge hit too I suppose. Someone has lost their mind over there, seriously.

Now compare all that to what has now been confirmed for the Playstation 4:

1) Sony’s equivalent to Kinect will be entirely optional.
2) PS4 games will work fine without an internet connection.
3) Sony won’t require any kind of game activation (publishers are another matter).
4) Sony has also stated their main focus is still gaming (services will still be available though).
5) Sony doesn’t require a monthly fee for most services (like PSN and online gaming).
6) Expected retail price will be around $350

This isn’t fanboyism speaking either. The only Sony products I own are a six year old HDTV and a Playstation 2 that never really ever got used (was more into PC gaming at the time). I do own a heavily used Xbox 360 though which I picked up when their HD-DVD drive was introduced. What a smart choice that turned out to be lol.

After talking it over with the wife, we’ve decided we won’t so much as touch the Xbox One even if Microsoft paid us to. Microsoft plans are so transparent and anyone who buys it despite that deserves all the anger, frustration, and invasion of privacy they’ll no doubt experience. If Sony doesn’t screw things up between now and release day, we’ll be switching to the PS4. If they do, or if publishers decide to push the activation issue themselves via their games in an attempt to kill the second hand market, I’ll have no problem going back to the PC and pirating the titles of the worst offenders in protest (Nintendo Wii U’s future is too uncertain to comment on it btw).

Anonymoussays:

The obvious Xbox achievements are in place and people ostensibly seek them out, though I have yet to attain any modicum of understanding as to why people do this.

The mechanism is repeated, small awards for a behavior. See the work of B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov. The console should have been called the Skinner Xbox.

I see a market for animatronic dolls of a non-sexual variety to sit and watch TV through your Xbox, harvesting MS Points and Doritos coupons.

krusty-gsays:

Worrying precedent

[I’ll preface this by saying that I am entirely disgusted by the invasive direction that Microsoft is going in with the One. I will not be going near it, and with Sonys history and Nintendos downward spiral to casual/family it looks like I’ll be a PC only man for the next gen at least]

The point that people will watch adverts that are interesting is a good one. I assume Microsoft believe (probabbly correctly) that there are “achieevemnt whores” (AWs) out there that play really terrible games simply because maximum achievements are easily earned. The logic would be that the AWs are forced in to watching crap as well as playing crap just to get that ding and badge.
Of course the worry is that this is eventually used as a stick instead of a carrot, with the service/application/game bricked until you watch a certain amount of advertising (if you think that’s a ridiculous proposition then you may have missed the internet connection requirements of the One).

A Dansays:

Different types of "points"

There are 2 different types of points on the Xbox. 1 is “achievement points” or “gamerscore”, and the other is “Microsoft points”. Microsoft points are what you can use to buy stuff. Achievement points are what you earn for completing pieces of games, and aren’t actually used for anything (they’re basically just an aggregate high score for yourself.)

I would assume that this would reward you with Microsoft points, not achievement points. They already do something similar with small rewards through their Xbox Live Rewards program, which rewards you with Microsoft points for completing their survey each month; this sounds like a logical expansion on that program.

Wallysays:

Re: I'm kind of in shock

I gave OOTB mine because when I was growing up as a gamer…I enjoyed just playing the game. The only “achievements” I ever enjoyed was discovering that I did something to unlock a character, multilayer level, or cheat in Goldeneye. We never relied on shit like achievement points in those days because we got more enjoyment from actual replay value of a game.

Achievements are stupid today because it gives users a hint that there is something they have yet to see or uncover. That basically ruins the experience and surprises of the game more than a game guide’s spoiler. It was fun not having a list of chores to do to unlock something….achievements have killed that.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

I disagree. I dont know what the developers were thinking when they created the map or level. Achievements (Valve style, in portal) urge you to seek out parts of the game you might have ignored otherwise. Or didnt think to play that way. I know in WoW, there are achievements given for special things that only happen once a week (once per raid cycle, so only 52/server/year). these arent the only ones, but they are something you can be proud of. others in wow reward and recognize activity people did anyway, like clearing the fog from all maps in the game. Not all of them are spoilers. Some are so incredibly complex they take months to accomplish. i wouldnt call those spoilers, id call that a mini-game.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

I disagree. Back in the day, I’d finish a game then it was done. Now, achievements often get me playing the game again to unlock the achievements on a harder level, or to find extra things that I’d never have looked for otherwise.

But, each to their own. Stick to the Wii or PC if you’re really that opposed to them – the PS3/4 also has trophies that work in the same way.

“It was fun not having a list of chores to do to unlock something….achievements have killed that.”

Why does the fact that achievements exist kill the game for you? If Assassin’s Creed tells you to collect 100 flags, that’s an optional extra – you don’t need to do it to complete the game.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“I disagree. Back in the day, I’d finish a game then it was done. Now, achievements often get me playing the game again to unlock the achievements on a harder level, or to find extra things that I’d never have looked for otherwise.”

Final Fantasy III/VI, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IX, and many many more JRPG’s had surprise endings based on discoveries you made by using your brain to discover secrets from subtle hints and clues to make an alternate ending. It’s psychologically and developmentally detrimental to be given a list of things you should look for and should do to unlock things while in a mode of discovering things on your own. I mean the rash of sudden “Help!!! I’m stuck on Super Metroid!!! The game won’t let me duck!!” should give you an idea to the damage done.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

I still don’t see your point, other than the fact that a bunch of kids playing an old game couldn’t work out a game mechanic that probably pre-dated their birth by several years. You can claim that has something to do with anything from overly forgiving hand-holding in modern game tutorials to a generation having lower patience thresholds that previous generations. To tie that directly into achievements is a little ridiculous.

I remember when FFVII came out, I played it to completion without using any kind of guide. I then used a guide my housemate had purchased to find all the extras and see alternate story arcs. I completed Lost Odyssey on the 360 without using any guide, then used guide to ensure I got all the extras, including achievements. I can’t see the difference apart from the fact that the guide I used in the first example was a paperback and the second was online.

Even if I did – you’re free to ignore the achievements if you don’t like them, and anything resembling a story spoiler is usually hidden until you unlock it anyway. You might have some issues with modern game design, but I doubt that the achievement system has anything to do with it (and I’ll bet I can point out similar flaws in games on systems that don’t have such a system).

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“Even if I did – you’re free to ignore the achievements if you don’t like them, and anything resembling a story spoiler is usually hidden until you unlock it anyway. You might have some issues with modern game design, but I doubt that the achievement system has anything to do with it (and I’ll bet I can point out similar flaws in games on systems that don’t have such a system).”

There are severe issues here. People actively seek out achievements because the hint is given on how to achieve the goal of getting the achievement.

There are no similar flaws in context of achievements on older, non achievement based systems because the player had the opportunity to discover the unlockable items on their own and by accident. My issue with the modern way of unlocking things is that the achievement hint usually says “Do this to unlock that item”. The basis of such self discovery and exploration through one’s own critical thinking is essential to child development and keeps the adult mind exercised.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“the achievement hint usually says “Do this to unlock that item”

No, the achievement usually says “do this to unlock X gamescore”. A few come with extras like avatar items, but most don’t. Often it doesn’t even give you that much information, and often they’re hidden until they pop. You also don’t have to view the list of achievements unless you go to that screen.

I can see your point to some degree with regard to younger children not exercising certain skills, but even then are they really doing anything different to the kid who bought the guide along with their game. Believe me, I knew a few kids like that who would happily ruin the story for themselves so they could get through the game quickly. But, I neither did that myself nor understood it. It’s a choice.

I can see your subjective issue, but it’s subjective, and you’re free to ignore the achievements list if you wish. You can even turn off the achievement notifications so you don’t get reminded of them during play.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“I can see your subjective issue, but it’s subjective, and you’re free to ignore the achievements list if you wish. You can even turn off the achievement notifications so you don’t get reminded of them during play.”

“Even if I did – you’re free to ignore the achievements if you don’t like them, and anything resembling a story spoiler is usually hidden until you unlock it anyway. You might have some issues with modern game design, but I doubt that the achievement system has anything to do with it (and I’ll bet I can point out similar flaws in games on systems that don’t have such a system).”

Why are you using the same exact arguments with different word use?

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“I can see your subjective issue, but it’s subjective, and you’re free to ignore the achievements list if you wish. You can even turn off the achievement notifications so you don’t get reminded of them during play.”

No, it’s an objective view. You forget my profession. No matter how you’ve put it, the achievement still exists when you’ve turned it off. Think about that for more than a minute. How fun is it to just mill around in a menu only to discover you’ve unlocked something new that adds replay value to the game…Goldeneye is a prime example of that….vs being told “Oh Hey…you just did something I told you to do to unlock something”…you don’t get it at all so please stop trying to defend the achievements system because all it does is suck the fun out of random discovery.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

I’m not sure if you’ve ever stated your exact profession, though you have waxed lyrical about your entry-level COMPTIA certifications as though they make you an expert in various fields. I’m not entirely sure what that has to do with the experience of XBox gaming, though (the current subject of discussion). So, do you work in the gaming field, or is this not relevant to your experience and qualifications?

Either way, it’s a totally subjective issue. You don’t like achievements, others do. You seem to think they shouldn’t exist, even though you’ve always had the option to turn them off or simply not look at them (yes, they still work in the background, but you are never reminded of them unless you specifically look or reactivate the notifications). This is subjective. Unless you have a study to hand that investigates the relationship between achievements and gaming behaviour, of course, in which case I’d be interested to read it.

At this point, I’m not even entirely sure you know how the xBox achievement system works (hint: most of them have nothing to do with finding random objects in menus).

“How fun is it to just mill around in a menu only to discover you’ve unlocked something new that adds replay value to the game.”

Not particularly. Most additional options I’ve discovered come in the form of a reward after completing a game on a particular difficulty. There are a few examples, but I’d frankly rather be told that there’s an extra hidden feature and get to play it, rather than pissing around on a menu trying to see if that game happens to have their feature. As a grown man, I have less time for gaming than I did in the 80s, so pressing random controller buttons in the hope of something happening has lost its appeal. But hey, each to their own – that’s why it’s subjective.

“so please stop trying to defend the achievements system because all it does is suck the fun out of random discovery.”

No, it doesn’t. The funny thing is, each of our opinions here are equally valid. But, I’m not the one trying to tell someone else their opinion isn’t. By all means, don’t use achievements – just don’t try to stop me from enjoying that aspect of game, which in my experience do increase the life and replayability of a given title if done correctly. In fact, it’s the one aspect of 360 gaming I’ll most miss if MS’s decisions force me away from the platform – there are definitely games I’ve completed 3 times to get the achievements whereas in previous eras I may only have played once or twice.

I'm A Gamersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

To sum up what PaulT has said:

1) You don’t need to look at the achievement list if you don’t want to.
2) You can turn off notifications so that you never know when you’ve unlocked one.
3) The important achievements are usually titled “Secret” and give no description either.

I don’t know how it’s done on the Playstation, but this is how it is on the console under discussion; the Xbox. The ones that are very basic, like “Trollypop: Kill 10 trolls using the Masnick Launcher”, are generally never secreted because there is no point obviously. The fact is some things need a description or they’d stay locked forever. The key is to not give anything away that might spoil the experience.

To be honest, both Wally and PaulT are correct to a certain degree, especially if you expand the discussion beyond achievements. It really depends on the game developers. If they’re lazy and not too bright, the game can easily be spoiled should the player decide to open up either the achievement list (a console menu) or weapon/item unlock list (an in-game menu) and have a look.

Good examples of the latter are the in-game menus in Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Ghost Recon Future Soldier which list things like weapons, attachments, perks, various stuff of that nature. Usually these also state what is required to unlock each of them which may or may not have anything at all to do with an achievement. This is another area developers need to be careful and not all of them are. Naturally these lists can usually be avoided as well if the player wants, so that much like achievements it doesn’t really have to be an issue. Requirements do need to be stated here too though, especially if they’re really obscure and not likely to just happen along the journey with dumb luck.

Personally I like working towards getting achievements, not so much for extrinsic reasons like bragging, but intrinsic ones. It feels good knowing I’ve accomplished something, particularly when that something is really difficult (especially at my age lol). The ones I like the most are where it’s fairly challenging, adds to the fun, and perhaps I get something out of it (a useful item, an alternate ending, can be anything really). It takes a pretty good developer to do all that right though. Since achievements can easily make things frustrating rather than enjoyable, I tend to ignore them on my first run through, playing just for the fun of it and without any worries that I might be making wrong choices. If the game was worthy of playing a second time, then I’ll have a look to see if there are any achievements worth my time.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“I remember when FFVII came out, I played it to completion without using any kind of guide. I then used a guide my housemate had purchased to find all the extras and see alternate story arcs.”

BY FFVII, do you mean 7? I’m just going by memory, it’s been over ten years since I played it, but…there’s barely any alternate arcs in that game (if the meaning we both accept here are alternative story-arcs, rather than additional ones that can be considered part of the main storyline, rather than parallel to it). Other than influencing who is Cloud’s date at the Golden Saucer, I can’t think of anything that would be considered alternate. As far as the game’s canon history is concerned, everything you can do in the first FFVII game happened (found Yuffie and Vincent, defeated the Weapons etc)

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

Yeah, I was being a little kind, with the idea of “story arc”, I suppose. I was repsponding to Wally’s wording, which is more relevant to Chrono Trigger now that I think about it. With that game, I was more about finding all the materia, doing what I could do with a certain character before they died permanently (it’s been a while but some still bitch about spoilers!), etc. I haven’t really played it since it first came out – my play times were something like 30 hours on the first play and 110 hours to full completion so I’d rather play something new unless the urge gets me to revisit it (say, with an HD remake).

PaulTsays:

Re: I'm kind of in shock

As I’ve said upthread, it’s not really insightful and is pretty obvious when you’ve seen his schtick.

In this case, it only seems insightful if you assume that the people complaining will just go ahead and buy the console anyway. If you consider that some people are serious about these issues being the things that stop them from buying the console, then ootb’s comment is merely waving away legitimate concerns. A fairly typical tactic on his part, and one that should be obvious from his language (“you kids”, failing to recognise that the age of the average gamer is well into adulthood, for example).

Wallysays:

Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“As I’ve said upthread, it’s not really insightful and is pretty obvious when you’ve seen his schtick.”

Why is it that you’re so butthurt that he actually got one when nobody would expect it. Is it because you think you’re smarter than OOTB?

There is no fucking assumption that Microsoft’s plans with XBOX One are anticonsumer. Quit trying to give a fucking counterpoint when it’s clear that you are jealous of the fact that someone like OOTB can make an intelligent point steeped in reason and hidden understanding and get an insightful vote based on his insight.

I’m sorry PaulT, but you’re becoming the intellectual lightweight for trying to explain that OOTB’s comment here should be discredited because of things he typically says.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

Wow, no wonder you’re finding ootb’s comments so compelling. You appear to be attacking a strawman that’s got nothing to do with what I was saying, then devolved into swearing and personal attacks. You’re on his level here.

All I’m saying is that people complaining about MS’s recent tactics may well be people who were previously buying their products, but are unwilling to do so next gen (including myself) unless the issues are addressed. ootb’s stance is that the people complaining will just buy the XBox One anyway – a false assumption for many people. In other words, ootb’s basic premise is a lie.

Is that difficult to grasp? Do you at least have any way to refute what I’m saying without reducing yourself to his usual kindergarten level of discourse?

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

How is that a strawman? I noted that one of ootb’s usual tactics in videogame threads is to attack the “kids” who will buy anything that’s thrown at them, and pointed out that this fits the bill. That doesn’t change his argument (which is pretty much exactly that, unless you can see something I’m misunderstanding), and thus not a strawman argument.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

“All I’m saying is that people complaining about MS’s recent tactics may well be people who were previously buying their products, but are unwilling to do so next gen (including myself) unless the issues are addressed. ootb’s stance is that the people complaining will just buy the XBox One anyway – a false assumption for many people. In other words, ootb’s basic premise is a lie.”

You’re arguing against something a lot of other people were already saying in this thread. And why would you boycott an entire generation of consoles because Microsoft made a stinker this year?? I mean Nintendo’s WiiU doesn’t have the same bullshit attached to it…and Sony has confirmed the PS4 will be a GAMING console and not a full out entertainment center that tracks your every move…I smell a fanboy in you that wants to wait for MS to fix things and listen to you while you ignore and miss out on the other two better systems.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm kind of in shock

Wow, are my opinions too complex for you? That nothing like what I said…

“why would you boycott an entire generation of consoles because Microsoft made a stinker this year”

I didn’t say I would. I said that out of the last gen of consoles, I prefer the XBox 360. That means that the console I was most likely to buy would have been the XBox One. It may even have been a day one purchase (though frankly, I’m not an early adopter, and gladly so having missed out on the RROD risks with the 360). That’s no longer the case. I might still be interested in the PS4 or the Wii U, but frankly I have enough unplayed games to sit out this part of the “race” and see how things develop, especially with the OUYA and Steambox as well as the current players. I give it 2 years before I’m properly in the market, but that doesn’t mean I can’t state my opinion on the ways things are being moved.

“I smell a fanboy”

I smell bullshit. Stop pretending that everyone who disagrees with you is a fanboy. It’s like your regular pro-Apple rants. Yes, it’s possible to criticise without being a fanboy. I’ve already stated I own all 3 major consoles from the current gen (plus a Macbook Pro and iPhone I sometimes use for gaming on the move). I’m as far from a fanboy as you can get, I’m just disappointed that certain moves are being taken.

gorehoundsays:

would Boycott this new XBOX and and a clear message to MS on the direction they have gone.
I like Games but I do hate Spies ! And any Company which stands in the way of me playing a Game I had bought.
I also have a big dislike for Rootkit Sony.
I like building up PC’s.That is what I intend to stick with for what Gaming I do.
My Rig is Interfaced with my A/V Gear in a Bi-Directional Way so when I want Game it will play on my Comp-Monitor and my 42″ Plasma TV and the sound all goes thru my expensive Denon Amp.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re:

Umm…Wally, where did you hear this? I’ve been keeping up to date on Xbone news myself and I have heard nothing about a rerelease of a decade old game on a new console. So far, all Microsoft has said is a few sequels and new IPs for Xbone, no rereleases (and certainly not ones without graphical revamps, what, are you saying they’re not doing HD rereleases like the PS3 has been doing of PS2 titles?)
Please if you’re going to say something so ridiculous here, try a bit better. Or have a link at least. I even did a Google search for “Halo Combat Evolved Xbox One” and no hits for a rerelease.

Anonymoussays:

I would totally watch commercials if they gave me some cool virtual goodies as a reward. The only discussion would be about how many minutes I would be willing to watch in order to get whatever it is. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no different than using coupons to get free stuff. People spend hours cutting those out and organizing them for shopping. What’s a couple minutes watching a commercial in order to get a great new outfit for your avatar?

Anonymoussays:

the best thing for people to do here is to tell Microsuck and any other company that wants to monitor people in their own homes, just to be able to pass that information on to the FBI,CIA DoJ or other law enforcement office is to GO FUCK THEMSELVES and never buy another piece of equipment that Microsoft has it’s grubby little mits in!! as if they haven’t done enough already, then get the thick public, in a lot of cases, go and buy touch screen equipment that then hands over finger prints that are associated with each user to those same agencies! the way things are going, we are going to have to strap on a camera from the moment we get up, to the moment we go to bed so we can be watched doing everything on a daily basis!!

Anonymoussays:

There’s a number of advertisements that I don’t mind watching – they’re funny or somehow engaging in their own right, rather than being extremely obnoxious shoved-down-your-throat-eyes garbage.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if advertisers aspired to create enjoyable (or at least tolerable) advertising rather than going down this Orwellian route of having devices in your home to make sure you’re watching the advertisements enough and in the correct manner

Alt0says:

Comcast disables fast forward during playback on their On Demand system so there will be no skipping commercials if you want to time shift your TV shows.
XBox is inferior to PC gaming anyway so no loss to me when I DONT BUY ONE.
This could be the end of couch sex as well, other than for exhibitionists.
The thing that really bothers me (which nobody has yet brought up) is HOW CAN IT MEASURE YOUR HEART RATE?
This goes beyond just seeing if your watching, its a biological monitoring device!
Lets just hope that if they detect you heart stopping they have the ability to also call the paramedics!

Rikuosays:

Re: Re:

Wally, you’re getting fucking ridiculous now. Again, I’ve just done a Google Search and nothing has come up for Xbone automatically answering calls. Why are you spewing forth these ridiculous rumors? Do you honestly believe that no-one else on Techdirt has been keeping up to date on Xbone news?

Anonymoussays:

More importantly, as the article notes, getting people to watch ads isn’t a problem solved by some kind of Pavlovian reward system. It’s solved by having creative, interesting, and entertaining ads.

I don’t care how interesting an ad is. If it is interrupting the show that otherwise has my interest, I will find it extremely annoying. It’s not the commercial I object to as much as the “break”.

Nicksays:

Gaming the system

I think I’ve already figured out how to game the system. See, the Kinect won’t be able to tell whether you are watching the commercial or not, just if you are watching the TV or not, right? So what’s to keep me from turning it on, unplugging the HDMI cable, and playing something else, such as oh I don’t know a PS4? I can play video games all day, and as far as the Kinect will think, is that I am so engrossed in the commercials I am staring at the screen so fixedly. All while holding some strange device.

Earn rewards, watch no commercials.

But then, you are still being watched by Big Brother. Hope it’s all worth it. And you paid 600+ (likely, and power usage) for the privilege of doing so.

Rikuosays:

Re: Gaming the system

About the only way this would work is if you had two TVs and two consoles, one Xbone and one non-Xbone. You place the Kinect 2.0 at the non-Xbone TV, turn on the Xbone and have it play the ads. You then turn on your non-Xbone console, play it as usual. As far as Kinect can see, it’s watching your eyes staring at a TV that it thinks is where Xbone content is being displayed (if the Xbone has in its system options menu an option for where the Kinect is placed, like with the Wii and its sensor bar) The Xbone console is all right – it’s playing the content and can confirm this through HDMI that the content is being displayed on a TV.

Brock Phillimoresays:

I find the technology morally neutral. How you use it is where the moral debate comes in. I think Microsoft has a far more profitable way to use the technology.

If people don’t watch an add, it isn’t going to have the effect the advertiser is looking for. If the add is interesting enough to watch, it’s more likely to result in a buying to decision. What if Microsoft were to use the technology to gather non-personalized metrics and sell them to the advertiser. The advertiser could then pay the advertising agency according to performance. Advertising agencies would then prioritize viewing interest more.

Anonymoussays:

Didn't see anyone mention Psych yet.

A recent episode of the TV show Psych had me hitting rewind on my DVR to watch a commercial. It showed the guys from the show doing a series of spots for the Samsung S4. Each commercial advanced the mini story slightly. So you wanted to see what happened next. It might not work for everything, but for this show it did. Especially funny given the prominent iPhone product placement in the show.

Eponymous Cowardsays:

You Guys Are Looking At This All Wrong...

This is a plus for the system and owners for actually it’s a free game! The challenge of this game is to see who can circumvent this technology, unlocking the achievements in the most efficient manner. I for one can’t wait to beat this game with a modified manequin or such. Maybe even a cadboard cutout, for when it’s broken people will find the most efficient means to dupe it like water running down hill. Then it’s free achievements and stuff to all us winners! I think this game should be titled ‘Egg on Microsoft’s Camera Face’, I’ll even nickname my dummy/avatar Egg…

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