November saw the annual Microsoft Hackathon event, where groups of developers, designers and innovators come together from across Microsoft to compete and invent potential new products and services within and adjacent to the Microsoft ecosystem. This year’s Hackathon winner was an app that helps you provide tech support to a loved one remotely, given the familiar frustration one might experience when trying to help a less tech-savvy friend over the phone.
Microsoft Hackathon 2022 event (opens in new tab) saw more than 10,000 inventions compete for the grand prize, with more than 68,000 employees worldwide taking part in what Microsoft describes as the “world’s largest private hackathon”.
I recently had the opportunity to check out some of the hackathon projects thanks to reputable sources, and some of the Xbox-oriented projects certainly caught my eye. One project included a “Windows Handheld Mode” shell for Windows 11, which converts the interface into something more suitable for gaming on a portable PC the size of a Steam Deck. Prototypes of streaming services were also released, which would reward viewers with Microsoft Points for watching live streams on Xbox while integrating Twitch or Patreon. Another idea included an “Xbox Inventory” system, which would allow collecting and transporting cosmetic in-game items between titles. My favorite project – and one I think is sorely needed – is an extension of the existing Xbox achievement system, something the designers have dubbed Xbox Achievements 3.0.
While it’s unclear who was behind the project, a team of designers and developers from Microsoft joined forces during this year’s Hackathon event to create a proof of concept for what’s called “Xbox Achievements 3.0”. This system would sit alongside the existing Gamerscore system, awarding players with PlayStation-like bronze, silver, and gold trophies for various achievements per title and even system level. For example, in the video shared with us anonymously above, you can see a concept medal pop for playing 300 titles on Xbox Game Pass.
The presentation also showed how each medal count would be displayed below your profile on Xbox.com and on consoles, giving players another way to showcase their accomplishments in various activities on Xbox Live (which has since been renamed the Xbox network, although nobody call it that).
Either way, this concept is tempting, though it will likely never materialize into an actual product. It’s reminiscent of some of the proposals for last year’s canceled Xbox Careers system, as Microsoft has acknowledged the fact that gamer habits have changed. More and more gamers are sticking to a single service-oriented title for longer periods of time rather than grazing across multiple titles. Xbox Game Pass’s at-will library keeps Xbox achievements afloat. Vampire Survivors offers mountains of 5G gamerscore achievements that appear at the end of each run, representing a truly exemplary use of the old system. However, many unscrupulous indie publishers have started releasing shovelware games designed entirely to award 1000 gamerscore for doing virtually nothing – a practice that Sony PlayStation plans to outlaw, no less.
In any case, the very fact that developers are looking at this internally at Microsoft, even in a hobbyist capacity, suggests to me that there is a growing spotlight on how little the Xbox’s achievements have evolved, while competitors like PlayStation and Steam have evolved. and improved on Microsoft’s pioneering systems. in the past. After all, improving Xbox achievements was one of the top concerns Xbox fans shared with me during last year’s big feedback survey that I conducted.
I for one hope to see something like these Xbox “Medals” materialize in a real product someday.