A lengthy post on the Major Nelson blog describes how Achievements will work on the Xbox One, and also reveals the existence of “Challenges”—the next-gen evolution of Achievements.
According to Cierra McDonald, program manager for the Xbox Live Achievements service, Xbox Achievements will largely work the same as ever on the Xbox One. As far as your Gamerscore is concerned, only game Achievements will boost said Gamerscore. But now, Achievements can unlock additional content—digital artwork, new maps, characters, and stat boosts, as well as non-gaming content from video and audio apps.
The evolution of Achievements comes in the form of “Challenges,” which McDonald describes as time-sensitive awards that do not contribute to Gamerscore. Previous reports about the Xbox One indicated that there could be cross-title Achievements on Microsoft’s next-gen console. Turns out, only Challenges are cross-title—not Achievements.
“There are now two types of Achievements: achievements and challenges. An achievement is probably already familiar. There’s a goal or activity you must accomplish and a reward that you receive upon completion. You can unlock an achievement at any time, be it on a game’s launch or 3 years later. I guess you can say an achievement is like a promise in that sense,” McDonald described in the post. “A challenge, on the other hand, is more like an opportunity—better grab it while you can! It is also comprised of a goal and a reward; however, challenges are time-bound (as in, real life time). That means you can only unlock during its eligible time window, and if you get close but don’t’ complete the goal when it ends… *Kanye shrug*”
Challenges can also be community-driven. For example, a developer/publisher could design a Challenge in which the collective Call of Duty community needs to attain 1 million head shots in 3 days.
Finally, it’s the Challenges that are adaptive and dynamic, not the Achievements—that is to say, developers and publishers can tailor Challenges in response to observed gaming behavior. Achievements, however, will always remain static—attainable regardless of whether you purchase the game on day one or year two.