What Are Achievements?

Achievements are a special way of both rewarding you for playing games as well as keeping you compelled to continue playing. Achievements are available for every Xbox 360 game as well as all of the Xbox Live Arcade games (Xbox 360 Indie Games don't have achievements, however). Each game has different achievements to earn and they range from simple things such as scoring a touchdown in Madden NFL or running a perfect lap in racing games or simply finishing levels in Call of Duty.  There are also much more difficult achievements as well, such as getting tens of thousands of kills in Gears of War, finding all of the collectibles in a game like Sleeping Dogs, or beating a game on the hardest difficulty.

Why Achievements Matter

In the grand scheme of things, the achievements you earn and the gamerscore points associated with them aren't in the least bit important, but they can give you some extra incentive to keep playing games. Because you can easily keep track of what your friends are playing and what achievements they have through the Xbox 360 dashboard, keeping a step ahead of your friends and trying to stay on top of local leaderboards adds extra replayability to games. Earning a few more gamerscore points by finishing another race or setting a new high score gives you the incentive to keep playing games long after you probably would have set it aside back in the bad old days before the Xbox 360.

Retail and Games on Demand Xbox 360 games feature 1000 GamerScore but more can be added as DLC.  Older Xbox Live Arcade games capped at 200 GS, but over the last several years that rose to 400 points.

Achievements and the gamerscore points associated with them are some of the biggest innovations of the last few years. They compel you to play more and they really do make games more fun and satisfying to play.

The only slight drawback of achievements is that they pretty much killed off cheat codes in games. Cheats used to be fun little extras that made games easier (or sometimes harder) or added weird new things to games. They would have made achievements too easy, though, so most developers just don't include them anymore.

Xbox One Achievements

Achievements are also featured in every Xbox One game, and both small digital indie games and full retail "AAA" games all have at least 1000 GamerScore points associated with them.  Some games can have more, such as the Halo Master Chief Collection, which has 6000+ GS now!  Also, since your GamerTag is the same on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One, your GamerScore is your total score of the achievements you earn for both systems.