Microsoft to open Xbox Gamerscore rewards program

Redmond (WA) - Loyal Xbox 360 owners who have managed to climb into the Gamerscore stratosphere will soon be able to get some sort of benefit for their efforts, when Microsoft opens up its Reward Challenge program later this month, with smaller awards available for users who haven't logged as much time on their console.

Beginning February 12, any Xbox 360 user over the age of 13 with an Xbox Live account can register online for a chance to get Microsoft Points, Xbox Live Arcade games, and other Xbox gear in a pool of $500,000 worth of prizes. All registered users who can increase their Gamerscore by at least 1500 points before April 12 will win some digital swag, with prize values on a sliding scale depending on how many Gamerscore points the user has already accrued prior to February 12.

For anyone with a Gamerscore of less than 5000, completing the challenge will award them an exclusive Xbox 360 dashboard theme and gamer profile icon, as well as a download of the Xbox Live Arcade title Contra, a $5 value.

Gamers with existing Gamerscores of 5000 to 9999 who up their score by 1500 points will win the same as the first group, plus a credit of 100 Microsoft points ($1.25) and a contest T-shirt. Anyone with a 10,000+ Gamerscore will have an upgraded Microsoft Points prize of 200 points ($2.50), and a retail copy of Fuzion Frenzy 2, a $50 value, in addition to all the aforementioned prizes.

Gamerscore values increase as gamers play through Xbox 360 titles, by unlocking universal milestones known as "achievements." Most games offer a total of 1000 possible points.

Level designations are not attributed until the program begins on February 12, so for example, novice gamers eyeing the collectible T-shirt still have about half a week to bring their Gamerscores up to 5000.

Gamers at the lower levels will also be upgraded to higher reward levels for future programs upon completion of the 1500 point task. Microsoft plans to expand the rewards on a continuous basis.

A message on the currently primitive reward site reads, "As the community responds, the program will grow and new challenges will be announced. Some will be open only to certain Rewards levels, some may be specific to certain games, and others won't even require you to turn on your Xbox 360."