Live Gamers Rewarded With Disappointment

Earn Achievements, win prizes. That was the plan. And it sounded phenomenal. In theory.

The Microsoft Xbox Live Rewards program kicked off this afternoon and, by all accounts, was DOA.

Aside from the simple fact that the servers were instantly crushed by gamers looking to register but couldn't, the Rewards program wound up being little more than creative co-branding with Old Spice. Yes, that Old Spice. The cologne/aftershave/deodorant you associate with grandfathers and deceased uncles.

This really bugs me on a number of levels. For starters: the need to register on the website. Why? The contest is only for Xbox Live users (in the USA, age 13 or older) and MS already has systems in place to track every little thing we do when we log into Xbox Live. Why the need to register? Why not just automatically register all accounts, automatically mark everyone's starting GamerScore as of today, and then track who gains the necessary 1500 points first? There was no need for anybody to have to register. It should have been automatic.

Secondly, the prizes. Being that I had in the ballpark of 8400 GamerScore at the time I started trying to register for this stupid contest (I gave up after a half hour of trying), I would have qualified for Level 2 prizes. Which meant that if I earned 1500 more Gamer Points between now and April 12th, I would have won the following.
  • Contra Live Arcade game.
  • 100 Microsoft Points (valued at $1.25)
  • Level 2 Old Spice Gamer Pic

That's it.

Those who already have over 10,000 GamerScore would win Contra, 200 Microsoft Points, a Level 3 Old Spice Gamer Pic, an Old Spice "clipper" t-shirt, and a copy of Fusion Frenzy 2.

Now I'm all for giving away free games. That's great. And although they are being surprisingly stingy with the Microsoft Points, giving away the equivalent of cash is also always welcome.

But an Old-Spice branded Gamer Pic (avatar) and Old-Spice t-shirt? Are you kidding me? We gamers spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year supporting our Xbox-playing habits and, if that wasn't enough, many gamers seemingly spend half their free time posting online about how marvelous it is and, essentially, serving as unpaid spokespeople on MS's behalf. And this is the "rewards" program MS comes up with? Old-Spice swag?

I don't even want to rant about this anymore, I thought having the second phase of a root canal today was going to be the lowpoint of my day, but no. This certainly takes the cake. If this is how Microsoft says thanks to loyal customers, I'd hate to see how they react to their detractors.

Now where did I put my Speed Stick?

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