When Microsoft with the launch of the Xbox 360 back in 2005 supplied games with thingies called ‘achievements’ no one could have imagined the impact they would have had on the gaming culture almost 12 years later. Earning the gaming crack equivalent of ‘Gamerscore’ for mundane tasks such as shooting up a bunch of chickens or looking up your main characters skirt have given gamers tasks they would never have imagined to do, all in order for an achievement to pop. People have even made careers on guides on how to earn video game trophies and achievements. Whoever can get the most Gamercrack is considered by peers as a most powerful individual in need of direct messages of love and respect.
Sony and the achievement-less PS3, jealous of such an inconceivable idea, thought up PlayStation trophies, identical to the achievements and their requirements except if you get all of the trophies in the game, you get a Platinum trophy. It’s different but also the same!
Ah PlayStation platinum trophies, you look at me with those smooth curves and that shimmering glow. Teasing with your tantalising ease to gain or your impossibility to get close to, the ping of each bronze minion getting me closer and closer to having you on my virtual trophy case.
Now not everyone cares about trophies and achievements, Nintendo being Nintendo hasn’t even attempted to come up with their own version. They’re just little bonuses for certain things in the game and shouldn’t impact on what game you play and the enjoyment you get out of it. BUT for some games, earning the platinum trophy is one of the biggest compliments you can give it. Some (not all) developers have put careful thought in their lists designed for the player to explore each aspect of what the game has to offer. I don’t want to find the hidden Easter egg, but dammit for a trophy just tie me in a ribbon and call me the Easter bunny.
Video Game Trophies and Achievements Change the Way We Play
Growing up, you may or may not have tried to complete games to 100%. Collect all collectables, finish the game on hard mode, beat all time trials etc. However, aside from unreal street cred, there wasn’t really any reward. Once the game has been traded in and the save deleted to make room for the next one, it’s all over, you had fun but it’s time to move on. Trophies and achievements being tied to your account show you and everyone on your friend list how damn good you are.
Mile high club on Modern Warfare? Done. Uncharted on crushing mode? Come at me bro. Collected all 3 million bajillion feathers on Assassins Creed 2? Ok fine. All not necessary but getting the trophy out of it for a lot of gamers make the task all the sweeter when completed. Quite simply not many players want to do all side missions, but for the achievement or trophy they will, and they will have got more from the game and the effort the developers will be rewarded all the same. I mean there are some trophies such as hogtying a woman and letting a train run her over on Red Dead Redemption where one must look at oneself and ask if doing so makes you a good person, but it has to be done all the same.
More Thought into Trophy Lists Can go a Long Way
Even the most hardcore trophy / achievement hunter hasn’t got 1000G or the platinum in every game they’ve played. Some not even half. This is because some developers just haven’t put in any thought into the list or worse, they have, but made it impossible and not even fun to gain. Games should be fun no matter what.
Online trophies are the biggest example of this. Some are gentle; win one game online, play 5 games. No dramas there. Some games think it’s cool to put reach top rank online, for not even a gold trophy or 100G, so basically they want you to put at least 40 hours into their tacked on online mode just because it’s funny. Assassins Creed Brotherhood online was a good time, but not a time I want to spend a month in. Other games want you to play through the whole thing 2 or 3 times, repeat an entire 10-20 hours of your life to get a spell you can’t get in your first run, I’m looking at you Dark Souls. Then there are missable trophies, without a guide or careful planning are lost forever unless started all over again from scratch. Glitched achievements and trophies are less common but deserve a brief mention…. There you go.
With a bit more consideration for the gamer developers can create a challenge that is fun, requiring more time in the game than simply blasting through the story, and overall having a fuller experience. Horizon Zero Dawn is the most recent example of a game that did it right; not too many collectables, lots of variation, not too easy, not too hard, takes long enough to earn without overstaying its welcome. Go and platinum Horizon Zero Dawn everyone.
Selling a Video Game for the Trophies and Achievements Alone
Some trophy hunters will shamelessly flaunt their cloudy with a chance of meatballs platinum. While some games will shamelessly flaunt how easy their game is to 100%. This is becoming a more common occurrence and you can feel about it how you will. My Name is Mayo takes 40 minutes and involves just tapping a jar of mayonnaise. This game will have sold way more copies than it has a right to purely because its purpose is to give you an easy platinum. Sony has recently stepped in to pull ‘1000 Top Rated’ from the PSN after it boasted a platinum which could be earned in 20 minutes and cost under a dollar. We didn’t even get that game in the UK but it sounds like a good effort.
Moving forwards, finding the delicate balance of a trophy / achievement list which incorporates a decent challenge, no multiple playthroughs or outrageous online demands and a reasonable amount of additional quests and collectables can give a game a final piece of polish which will keep gamers engulfed in the game way longer than the average playthrough, and that is good for everyone. The game can have all of those things, but for the trophies it should be fun and encourage us to do what we otherwise would have never thought to do.