Do Achievement Awards Really Add Anything to the Table?
We always wanted something for our hard work in video games or at least thats what this generation has made it seem. Trophies and Achievements are some of gaming’s newest guilty pleasures, but why is that? Why do we, the gamers, find ourselves doing remedial tasks and constant grinding in order for our screen to either pop, click, and/or snap to the message of “You have earned a Trophy!” or “Achievement Unlocked.”
At first, the idea was novel and fresh. Microsoft came out with extra challenges tied to every game released with the launch of the Xbox 360. All of the system’s launch titles like King Kong, Kameo, and Call of Duty 2, featured some of the very first achievements…and coincidentally the easiest. Not soon after its own launch, Sony’s PS3 followed up with their trophy system; something that I am sure still burns the souls of those in charge at the Xbox 360 R&D team. Honestly though, this seems like a no brainer to follow suit; both Xbox and Playstation now have a system of achievements and despite Nintendo’s stern policy to not enact such a system, many of their games have some sort of in-game achievement systems. (Refer: Xenoblade Chronicles) So why is it now, at the end of a cycle that we asking ourselves, with our thousands of points and/or high trophy levels, “What do we do with this?” Its a valid questions, one that I do not a have a straight answer to, sadly. I can, however offer insight.
Strangely enough, I do not care for achievements in the slightest, but am very much addicted to obtaining platinum trophies on the PSN. I can imagine some people are vice-versa, but the fact remains: many have a sense of accomplishment when hearing those clicks and snaps of victory. Its a damn good feeling to see a platinum trophy earned at the corner of the screen, and being able to see you demolish your friends scores is equally gratifying. But is that what gaming is about? Sega and Nintendo never need a system of achievement back in the day, why should it need one now? I can’t necessarily answer that; I would love Sega to have incorporated this if only because I loved their hardware, but the fact is that todays gaming systems and software have assimilated to this ideal. Even the most popular software distributor in the world has adapted an achievement system after noting its success on consoles. I also doubt that having a system of achievements is going to impeded on Nintendo’s business. However, it is interesting to note how many platforms, developers and publishers, have assimilated to this idea.
Still, that doesn’t answer the question: “What do we do with this?” I pose a counter-argument to you. When your done with a game, what do you with it? Do you store it away? Trade it back to Gamestop? Amazon? or do you replay it continuously for the sheer joy? These are all right answers. However, these the only capable answers prior the current console generations’ unveiling. Today, you can add: Achievement/Trophy Hunting. To say that the longevity of my games has increased would be an understatement. I demolished Prince of Persia, leveled more than I care to admit in Dark Souls, and have played games without killing a soul, all for the love of the trophy. Prior to this console generation, I never did such a thing, I simply played the game until I was tired of it. Granted, some games sucked me into their world without the need of trophies easily, but some will be re-released soon with a whole new set of them. I hated myself for trying to obtain all the ultimate weapons in Final Fantasy X, but at the same time I loved it, and if the challenge presents itself, I say “GAME ON.” (I admit, I love Final Fantasy X for its obvious use of Water Polo)
However, some games needed a trophy system to sustain them self for longer periods. For examples, Massive Mulitplayer Online RPGs tend to have achievement systems now, especially when World of Warcraft introduced its own system right around when Wrath of the Lich King came out. The system was a success, partly because it extended the longevity of the game even further and it created the opportunity to be reward with in-game items no one else has. This is something I can believe hasn’t been adopted even more by other games. Is there a patent I glossed over? No? Well then I would look to this model folks, people like ArenaNet and Blizzard are making the Achievement System look good; very good.
So, is this system for everyone. No, absolutely not. However, a large portion clearly has taken a liking to the system, so its here to stay. I doubt that Microsoft’s entry in to the “My Achievements Rewards” campaign (see below) will go unnoticed by Sony’s research heads, but at the moment they shed little light on the question, “What do we do with this?” I am already at the highest tier for Microsoft, and I am not an avid achievement hunter, as I have mentioned before. This could, though, be the start of something. Only time will tell. Until then, remember, its not about what you can do with your score or level, its about what more you can do with that disc in your hands. Make the most of it because the people who poured their souls into it would love nothing more than for you to accomplish every achievement, and grab all the trophies. In the end, we’re playing games because we want to, how you go about it is just fine by me, I promise.
So now that I have posed the question to you, its now time to become clearer as to why I am asking the question. Recently, Microsoft announced a new campaign known as “MyAchievements.” It will reward players with 1% or 2% rebates a month for XboxLive (what % depends on tier) purchases, along with a XboxLive gift with an estimated value of $.25. So…That not what I had in mind, but its a start. For more clarity, see the screen below:
Jaime is a trophy hunters as of recent, right around February when the Vita launched, he is now working his magic to get a PS3 so that he can review RPGs until he’s in heaven (or when the PS4 comes out), but if you wanna chat him up about games and make fun of him for having a Xbox 360 only this whole time, hit him up on Twitter