Opinion: We Care Too Much About Trophies And Achievements

Do they really matter?

There was a time, not too long ago, when playing a game was its own reward. You’d play a game because it was good or it interested you, basically because you wanted to see what it had to offer. For many I imagine this still holds true but ever since the introduction of trophies and achievements things have been changing.

Now I want to make this clear, I don’t hate trophies or achievements. Personally I think they do add something to a game, but not a lot and I’ll very rarely go out of my way to complete some task just for the sake of one of these baubles.

The only time they do interest me is when they’re used to guide a player to some new mechanic, to hint at another way the game can be played. I still won’t always follow through on this developer guidance, but it can be used to good effect and genuinely expand a game’s potential.

[drop2]However, trophies and achievements should always be seen as a nice extra. They can certainly add to a game but their absence doesn’t make a game any worse. The point of the game is the game, it’s not to earn you more digital accomplishments.

Take Futurlab’s statement that lack of trophies puts people off minis. I can completely understand why Sony don’t integrate trophies into titles released as minis, I mean they have to differentiate them from general PSN titles somehow, but I don’t get why their absence puts people off minis.

There are some simply fantastic game available on the platform, Velocity being just one of many, so I just don’t see why people would deny themselves games that are this good just due to lack of trophies.

Is it that the sense of achievement a game gives is not enough any more, does it need to be bolstered by additional factors? Or is it perhaps the need to brag to our friends, to show that we’ve collected more trophies than them? Either of those seems like a particularly weak reason to ignore any game, no matter how good or bad.

Flipping to a game that’s recently had trophies added, let’s look at Metal Gear Solid 4. The almost constant requests for trophies have finally been answered, in fact we actually have the trophy list, but did the game really need them that much? Will it make Snake’s journey any better or worse? Or will you simply get a trophy pop-up every now and then, with the core game remaining exactly as good as it was before?

I suspect it’s the latter, although I hardcore trophy collectors may well disagree with me.

Perhaps I’m being a bit old fashioned in my opinions, and I certainly accept trophies and achievements as a part of gaming now. I’d really never want to get rid of them, and they do add something to a game. However, to ignore or avoid a game simply because it lacks trophies seems misguided at best, just go play a game because it’s good.

61 Comments

  1. I view them as a bonus, something extra to the game itself. Although a obsessive collector I scour games to death the trophies themselves I don’t associate them with the games so never really bother with them.

    Unless the game in question is so much fun I play again (Dragon Age for example) then plats are rare for me. I may go for some obscure trophies to try different aspects of games but I would never go for trophies if I no longer enjoyed the game – at that point it becomes a chore almost work.

    As for playing games purely for trophies that’s not something I could do unless the I enjoyed it.

  2. Do they matter? Nope. It’s a digital “gold star” it means nothing.

  3. Trophies disgust me, but at the same time whenever a PS2 game is released on the PS3 the first thing I think of is- mmm I wonder if it’ll have trophies… and I’ll bitch and moan if it don’t. Instead of trophies I wish I could just see how many hours someone has played a single player game, or how many single player kills they have. Like the stats page in GTA, but for everyone to see.

    • That’s a great idea :) Would much prefer that.

  4. The reward system of Trophies and Achievements attach us to them. We are constantly rewarded for doing very little and whats more, we can compare our rewards with others. You are constantly earning and competing – this is why we care and this is why they are so compulsive for many people.

    In addition, I think they are a good thing, they can add longevity to a game and can (if used correctly) make the player experience the game to its max. I.e exloring sections of a game that you wouldn’t even know about if it wasn’t for an achievement being unlocked for going there.

    Achievements and Trophies are just part and parcel of gaming if you ask me, I think there is a certain level of prowess added to a gamer if they have a strong amount of A or T on their account, it’s a gamers way of saying “Hey I’ve got the big dick of the gaming community” So, although I agree that if people were to purchase a game just for the achievements or trophies then they are probably over-estimating the importance of achievements and trophies t their lives, but people always seek praise and reward so is it really that abnormal for people to do this with gaming? I duno, that was just my take on things.

  5. Hasn’t this topic been discussed before? ….About a million times?

  6. Trophies were an absolutely superb update to the PS3 operating system firmware. They give an extra dimension of accomplishment on top of all in game rewards for achievements.
    I remember playing through Vice City on PS2 and was desperate to collect all of the hidden packages and completing every single race or mission available in the game to achieve 100% completion, which in comparisson would have probably been a platinum trophy in todays terms. Exactly the same for Burnout Paradise before a trophy patch was released, I completed absolutely everything possible and then repeated it all again for the new shiny trophies.
    So for me it’s more a case of if the game is up to scratch it would get the same attention……trophies or not. Even some mediocre games get more attention than they deserve because of the trophies left to collect that would otherwise have been chucked on the pile gathering dust!
    The argument for games that are ignored due to a lack of trophies is kinda evened out by games that are bought and given the time due to trophies being included that would otherwise be ignored.
    Totally agree with the argument that some of the MP trophies are pretty insulting and have actually prevented me from persuing the platinum in a few games……enough is enough!
    In essence though trophy addition was a fantastic concept that added a new challenge dimension to a game and people will always run with them in different directions with different goals in mind.

  7. In an industry where apparently 5-hour campaigns and unbalanced multiplayer modes (populated by foul-mouthed 10 year olds) is now completely acceptable, I find myself turning to achievement/trophy lists to get some extra longevity out of my games.
    Granted 9 times out of 10 I won’t bother with grinding achievements but otherwise I find them a great way of encouraging me to play on the highest difficulty, un-earth collectibles, perform certain tasks, etc.

    That said, I won’t ever skip a game I’m looking forward to just because it has a hard achievement list. That’s just silly. Likewise I’m not the sort to buy crappy movie tie-ins because of their easy gamerscore.

  8. I don’t really reply to threads very often, but this one is something I ponder over a lot. It’s a good time to write down some thoughts on this as I earned the first trophy for MGS4 this morning. This was the game that made me want and buy a PS3.
    At that time, there were not trophies and I never owned a Microsoft console, so I didn’t even know about the concept. A few years later, 2500+ trophies later and counting, I have to say it did give me a new drive when playing and I discovered new ways to play games, as for example I had never done a speedrun in a game before. I do hate multiplayer shooters, but when Killzone 2 came out and had those multiplayer trophies, I thought I’d give it a go and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Without the trophies, I’d have probably only tried it for an hour and switched it off forever. Basically because it took me a while to get good enough at it for it to be fun.
    So yeah, I generally like trophies, but I have two issues with the system. I love looking through the trophy cabinet, but what bugs me are the gaps. 70% there, 99% here and even a 0% for Trash Panic are in there. Wouldn’t it be much nicer if a game only appeared once you have a trophy for it and only the unlocked trophies being visible? I got the Uncharted 2 Platinum for example, but the multiplayer add-ons make it display with less than 100%. Ugly. So I don’t like multiplayer, why would I buy an add-on just to get 100%? That’s probably why they display it. Because a lot of people will feel forced to buy all DLC for a title because of it. I don’t like that, but I have to admit, I have done it. Sometimes I ended up being happy about the experience I got, but other times it was a chore.
    Another problem is time… well and this is where I don’t understand the publishers. They all want us to ideally buy a copy of all their games. I have limited time to play, so if I want to get the Platinum for a game, I will be playing that for a while, ergo not needing anything else. So I find that I am often picking up games late and therefore much cheaper. Some games you can get 100% quicker and move on. I feel like because of the long ones, I am missing out on some games, because I just don’t have the time. So sometimes I actually enjoy having a game without trophies in the mix because I don’t have the (self-imposed) pressure of trying to 100% it.

  9. You will always have gamers that want to return to the retro times, and will reminisct about “The good old days” when achievements didn’t exist but I gaming has benefitted from a reward system. Think of all those PS2 games where you played and played and played but after you completed the game you didnt really have anything to carry on playing for, you didn’t even have anything to register and recognise your “achievements” Its my firm belief that the reward system was one of the smartest things Microsoft did. It goes hand in hand with Xbox Live and has taken the latest generation of gamign forward. To me its been just as important as the introduction of online gaming, better graphics and party chat (on Xbox anyway) and has really taken gaming forward. I love the social impact, the fact that you can compete with friends constantly is great and such an attraction. I’ve spent many late nights trying to unlock a final achievement or trophy. As owner of an Xbox 360 gamertag with over 70,000 g and a PSN account with over a thousand trophies, I can safely say that i’ve tried and tested this system and I don’t want it to go. Ever.

  10. Hi my name’s FLUFFYB1TCH and I’m a trophy whore. That was until someone complained about my name being offensive and I had my account banned and lost my 20 glorious platinums. Although I cried for several weeks, my name is now FLUFFYJEDI and I am now replaying several games I probably wouldn’t have due to not caring about the trophies. I’m playing through games full of joy and without care for trophies, instead of playing eyepet and spending an hour changing the time in the menu for an easy plat. Enjoy them as a bonus or as replay value. Don’t get addicted to the ‘ding’ as I had. Thanks for listening.

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