Trophies Vs Achievements

One of things we welcome here on TSA is the always valid opinion of our readers.  If you’ve got something to say and don’t necessarily have a vehicle to project your thoughts from just drop us an email and if what you’re saying makes sense we’ll take a look and see if it’s worth highlighting on the site.  One of our members, SteveTheSkorie, did just that last week and we thought his objective thoughts on Trophies and Achievements are well worth reading so we got in touch.

“Trophies and Achievements genuinely interest me outside of the normal addictiveness people feel for them,” said SteveTheSkorie, real name Lorcan.  “On the surface, both systems look nearly identical: both award the player with a small bragging right for completing certain tasks which will add points to that player’s Gamerscore or trophy level. However when looking further than that, we realise that each has their own quirks that make them stand out above the other and both can actually have a profound effect on the games utilising them.”

Achievements work very simply. Users complete tasks within a game to add up to 1750 Gamerpoints per game to their Gamerscore – it’s normally 1000 but additional DLC can come with extra Gamerpoints.


The initial shot of the PS3 TrophyCard

Trophies on the other hand, have a little more to them. Whilst the general premise is the same, instead of unlocking arbitrary numbers of points, Trophies are awarded in 4 tiers according to the difficulty of the given task. Bronze (15 points), Silver (30 points), gold (90 points) and an oh-so prestigious platinum (180 points) for those who can get every other trophy the game has to offer. The accumulated score of all Trophies collected also works differently than Achievements. Whilst a Gamerscore is always on the climb with each point contributing to an ever growing number, PSN members have a trophy level which grows in an RPG style fashion with each level requiring more and more trophies to access than the one previous to it.

“This has its pros and cons,” says Lorcan. “On the one hand, it means that most players are generalised with Trophy Levels for most average gamers currently sitting in the level 4 – 6 area, and with levels taking longer and longer to reach each time it means that there is a wall where it all gets too much, and unfortunately for the Playstation, that wall is already being hit. ”  It takes at least 3 fully Platinum’d games to get through level 12 and that’s just not something that most casual gamers are really going to strive for, and level 13 is even worse. So while the leveling system is nice for keeping things simple, it has a definite weakness, and one which Sony have coded to appear far too early. Achievements don’t have this problem as their numbers just creep higher and higher with some hardcore players being up in the hundreds of thousands already. They won’t ever hit a wall. They’ll just keep on climbing.

The setup of Trophies has an effect on the actual Trophies that go into games and that’s all down to one thing: Platinum. On the Xbox 360, if you have a game and you play through to get lots of Achievements, you’ll see your score take a nice little rise. Play it a lot and get all the Achievements, and you’ll just see a bit bigger of a rise, and as Lorcan says, “it makes no difference if you get half your Achievements in one game and another half from another game. The output is the same.”  Get half the Trophies in a PS3 game and the same amount in another however, and you won’t see half as big a jump as you will if you get all the Trophies in one game to claim the prestigious Platinum.

Checking your PS3 Trophies Online

“It’s an extra incentive to try harder and go for them all and the Platinum makes your achievement instantly recognisable instead of having to look through a list at each individual game a user has played,” adds Lorcan, “we see the effects of this in games like Call of Duty: World at War. A look at the Trophy list for the game reveals a healthy list of singleplayer only Trophies. A look at the list for the 360 counterpart reveals an identical list bar two Achievements.” The two he’s talking about are “It’s All About Prestige” and “Go Get Some Sun” which are awarded when 1st and 10th prestige are reached. While 1st prestige is something that most dedicated Trophy hunters could achieve, reaching 10th is something only for the most hardcore of any type of player, Trophy hunter or not and by adding a Trophy like this that would literally require days to achieve, the number of players with a Platinum would be cut to a fraction of what they are now and it would result in a lot of angry players who would be unable to achieve the Trophy.

Whether Platinums add or detract from an experience is up to you to decide for yourself. Cases like the one above are rare, however they do occur, and the added boost to your level are a fantastic reward for those who can put in the effort.  “But there is one advantage that Achievements will always hold over Trophies”, says Lorcan. “They are everywhere.” Everything on the Xbox 360 comes complete with a set of them, even re-released classics of old games.  “Sony seem to be struggling at the moment just to get PS One classics on the store, far less trying to also add a good set of trophies to each one. Achievements have been there from day one and the only change so far has been the increase in the number of a points allocated to each game. A launch title will have a maximum of 1000 points, however a more recent title will have 1250.”

The 360’s ‘NXE’ with the Gamerscore always visible

It’s a great asset for the 360 as it makes all its games equal; on the PS3, this is not the case. “Due to the late implementation of Trophies, a significant proportion of games released in the first 2 years of the console’s lifespan are Trophyless , and some continue to be released without support (though this is changing)” complains Lorcan. Unfortunately, some people are even neglecting these titles due to the fact that they will receive no Trophy-based credit for doing so. “Inhabitants of the internet frequently voice their non purchasing of these games because of this sad fact which I see as being massively disappointing as it means they really are missing out on some exceptional titles, new and old.”

But the sales being effected by the omission of Trophies isn’t limited to the PS3, as the actual Trophies and Achievements themselves can have a definite effect on some people’s thoughts of whether to buy or not. “For example,” says Lorcan, “Achievements that are awarded for actions outside of the players control are very unpopular. The easiness of a Trophy / Achievement list will also have effects with numerous gamers joking that they would be purchasing the Hannah Montana game for my niece after it emerged that the Platinum Trophy could be attained within 5 hours.”   A quick look at the site reveals that at the time of writing only 13 people have bothered to go for it, however the initial comments made do not go unnoticed.

Likewise, The Terminator Salvation Trophy list was revealed recently to have a grand total of 12 Trophies: 11 Golds and 1 Platinum. A Gold for completing each of the 9 chapters and then another 2 for doing the game on medium and hard mode. “It’s ridiculous,” remarks Lorcan, “and a blatant tempt to get people to buy the game, and unfortunately it suggests very little for the quality of the game itself because if this is the level they’re going for to get sales then they must be struggling.” Not to mention, it often says very little for the imaginations of the developers themselves. It will be interesting to see what the Achievements list will look like when it is released.

“The thing that intrigues me the most about Trophies and Achievements however is the effect that they will have on the next generation of consoles,” Lorcan says. “I expect Nintendo will announce a similar system for the next Wii and I would imagine that Trophies will eventually make their way to either the rumored new PSP or even onto the current one.” But with the console war being closer this generation than it has in a long time it will be interesting to see how the systems are carried onto the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4. The early success of the 360 can be partly contributed to its arrival on the gaming scene so long before its rivals, the Playstation 2 is the best selling console of all time but Sony lost a lot of its fans to the Xbox 360 as many wanted to be the first to have the so-called ‘next gen’. “There was nothing to keep them with the Playstation brand,” says Lorcan, “but this time, there is something to keep them with them where they are. I have no doubt that both Microsoft and Sony will attempt to keep players by keeping their scores and levels and carrying them over to the next system. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I suppose that for the time being, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, especially with OnLive having announced it’s bragging rights system.”

Infamous 360 Achiever StripClubDJ’s stripped Gamercard

It must be agreed that Achievements and Trophies are both incredibly fun and exciting systems which encourage a player to get the most that they can out of a game, and to think outside the box and try new gameplay styles they otherwise wouldn’t. But as to which system is superior, there really isn’t much of an answer. Perhaps you enjoy the ever present chance of receiving an Achievement on the 360, or maybe you get off to the overly satisfying sound of a newly unlocked Trophy on the PS3, but in the end it really comes down to your own personal preference.

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