Why online trophies and achievements should be scrapped

What's the solution?

So, it’s new game day. Your excitement is through the roof. You’ve been waiting months for this moment. If you’re anything like me, a bit of a trophy nerd, your day goes like this:

1. Buy game that you’ve waited for.

2. Remove that unerringly satisfying cellophane and hug the case (okay, probably just me).

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3. Moan as you wait for the inevitable updates and installations.

4. Check the trophy list for online trophies, followed by a huge sigh.

Online trophies, I think most of us can agree, are a burden. As someone who both enjoys online gaming and collecting trophies, I believe they cannot co-exist. Online trophies generally have ridiculous requirements, make you change your playstyle and be selfish, or grind yourself into the ground. Please, take a trip with me through some examples of my online trophy experiences that I’m sure you will relate to.

Why are online trophies & achievements a problem?

Now, the most popular reason from my experience that online trophies are disliked is because of difficulty. That is definitely a factor for sure. Some online trophies and achievements are simply bizarre and feel like a slap in the face by developers for how difficult or how much of a grind they are. Likely, trophies are used as a method to keep you playing. If a trophy is difficult or time consuming, you’re investing more time into their game, which of course is their aim. What they don’t realise is that in actual fact, there are a lot of gamers who have stopped playing their game because of the trophies.

Perhaps the biggest reason why I’m utterly sick of online trophies is how it affects the players around you. The best example I can think of in my experience would be Overwatch. Now, Overwatch is a wonderful game. It’s amongst the best online shooters ever made and Blizzard deserve lots of credit for supporting the game for free for almost a full 5 years. However, they made a big, big mistake with adding trophies. Again, yes difficulty is a factor in me feeling this way but I also have the platinum and I’m still angry about it. Why? Changes in player behaviour.

Simply put, no one gives a hoot about winning the game if they can get 4 kills with a random D.Va bomb, thrown at the end of an already lost fight. Overwatch doesn’t function as an experience without working as a team and you can really see when players are going for trophies. That’s a sweet satisfying *bwing* for that player and a giant fudge you to everyone else on their team. Now, I’m not going to say I’ve earned all my trophies by playing properly, of course I haven’t. Yet that’s part of why I want it changed, I don’t enjoy doing it or affecting other people with my own selfish intentions. I feel awful every time I do it. Yet, with a love for games and a love for trophies combined, I can’t help but go for them; don’t the developers just know it.

Another reason that people have to change their playstyle so dramatically is because of the sheer audacity of some of the trophies. Developers just love a super specific trophy requirement. A prime example of this would be in Dead By Daylight, where you need all 4 survivors to escape through the hatch at the same time (a ridiculous fear) that feels like the developers laughing at its player base.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is one of the more infamous games for online achievements taking things too far though. The requirements for the online segment of this Xbox 360 game were ludicrous. Most notoriously though is of course an achievement called “World Champion”- you had to reach number one in the world rankings to pop his rarest of accolades. Absolute madness.

Another way that online trophies are affecting players is through a subtle monetization. FIFA is the ultimate (pun intended) showcase of this with its Fifa Ultimate Team mode. There are a few trophies dedicated to FUT (not separate from the platinum) which is a sneaky way of trying to get more money from those trophy-hunting players. Examples of requirements in FIFA 21 (fully trophy list here) are for reaching 200 games played and reaching division 4. The teams you will be facing in that division will be very strong, so to get there you either need to grind the game every day for weeks, get incredibly lucky with FIFA 21 packs (extremely unlikely) or spend money, and we all know which one they want you to do. It’s not big or clever, it’s taking advantage.

What makes these online nuisances also frustrating is that people will go out of their way to boost them. This renders online trophies a tad pointless. If trophies can be exploited by boosting, how is that an indication of skill or achievement? Realistically, they should be achieved by performing a specific action or reaching a certain goal through your gaming ability and not something that can be done with other people making it as easy as possible.

What else can be done?

Now, to ask that trophies and achievements be removed from online modes completely is of course an idea that will never to come pass, so I’m sure we can find a compromise. Why can’t online trophies be added as part of a subdivision in the trophy lists, much like DLC/expansions? That way, we don’t feel as obliged to go for them and it’s more a matter of preference. Then, the hardcore hunters can still plunge the time in that developers want, while the more casual gamers can focus on their kill/death ratios and climbing the ranks instead.

I’d also like to propose another solution. Using Overwatch as an example, there are two ways to experience the standard experience: Quickplay and Competitive. How about we change it so that trophies can only be earned in quickplay, meaning in those games that really matter, there won’t be anyone attempting match-throwing stunts in their goal for the platinum. All online games should have a competitive server and one where you can experiment, people need to play the game in the server based on what their intentions with the game are.

Meet me half way

For now, I’m going to continue grinding away at the games I love but with a deep hope that the days of online trophies and achievements will come to an end. I just want an experience where everyone is on a similar wavelength and just want to better themselves rather than adding to their shiny trophy collection. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for trophies too, that burst of short-term gratification is addictive, but I want them away from online games. I want to be able to know just how bad I am online without the influence of people not playing the game for its actual objectives. I doubt it will ever go away, since it adds a lot of playtime and therefore generates income, I just hope the developers care a bit more about our actual experience too.


We’d love to hear your opinions on this subject, please leave a comment with your own ideas on how to solve this. Don’t agree? Let us know why!

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12 Comments

  1. Most importantly they need to be separate from the platinum requirements, as all game’s online services shut down eventually, leaving it impossible to claim the platinum.

  2. Nice article, I agree with all the reasons given. I enjoy working through the achievement lists and roll my eyes at the requirements some games have for a measly 10G or a bronze trophy.

    Another problem is many games just don’t have enough people playing them online, and it makes it a total none starter when it comes to online stuff.

  3. Upon reading the title of this article I though to myself ‘whoa, hold on a minute, controversial!’, however I had missed the ‘online’ part and, ultimately, I fully agree.

    You make a good point about players ignoring games because of ridiculous trophies. I’m a big trophy whore myself and over the years my habits have changed because of some trophies. Whereas before I would play games I was maybe only vaguely interested in, now I don’t even attempt those games if they have some ludicrous trophy requirements costing hours upon hours of play time.

    I’ve also boosted many different trophies and it definitely makes me completion of them somewhat less satisfying.

    Some notable mentions of my own;

    Killzone 2 – the trophy that you had to place in the top 1 or 10% of players in a given week. Thankfully I really enjoyed the KZ2 multiplayer, but damn did I spend a lot of time playing in that week. I don’t think I would have got it had I not been unemployed at the time.

    The Division – the ridiculous trophy of extracting 100 items from the survival dark zone. There’s a maximum of 6 items per session so the minimum amount of time of this is at least 15-20 hours! Much more likely it’ll take 25-30 hours for a half decent player.

    GTA 5 – the masterminds trophy (one I’m currently working on). I have a good group of 4 set up and we got to 26/29 when the car a partner and I were in blew up in mysterious circumstances. Of course we used the close app trip but upon logging back in I was the only person to have lost my progress 😖 the other frustrating thing about this trophy is that you can’t just do it once with 4 people and have the 2 player and 3 player runs automatically pop.

    • I also didn’t see the online part and nearly had a heart attack haha!

      Nice to reminisce about Killzone 2 as well, fond memories with that game, I’m fact that whole series. Would like to see another one :)

      • I’d say KZ2 was by far my third most favourite multiplayer experience, only beaten by BF3 and 4 because of the scale of their maps.

      • Meant to also say.. I never got into KZ3 as much and subsequently have missed out on 100%ing it.

      • Absolutely brilliant game. I remember TSA regularly holding ‘TSA meets’ and tournaments on KZ2 back in the day. Although I’m not much of a multiplayer gamer these days I played KZ2 and KZ3 to death, would love a proper remake of both (I just couldn’t get into shadow fall).

    • Those Killzone 2 trophies were the first time I saw a trophy list and said “wait, what?!”

  4. 100% agree. I don’t tend to play many multiplayer games these days (much prefer a single player adventure) so seeing multiplayer trophies to get the platinum really puts me off. I’ve lost out on a few platinum trophies for racing games thanks to stupidly difficult/long grind multiplayer trophies. Would much prefer if the list was split so the platinum is always attainable.

  5. Solid article. I really like seeing these types of opinion pieces on here.

    It’s surprising to me that trophies have existed for about 14 years and most developers still don’t implement them very well. It seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to run Quality Assurance on the trophy list as well as the game generally, and it would leave a better impression on millions of gamers. I agree that there are certain games I actually played LESS because a few ludicrous trophies render an attempt at the platinum pointless. I also agree that the worst offenders are usually related to online trophies.

    We have some examples of the worst offenders, but what about some games where the devs nailed the trophy list?

  6. Unpopular opinion – just ignore trophies. If people are frustrated with them I’d say that’s just a sign you need to switch off and ignore them
    I sit on the fence, I’ll admit I’ve worked on some trophies and get caught up in the challenge, but generally the moment the story is finished I couldn’t care less about the platinum. I don’t want to drag a game on longer than it should.
    Astro bot is the first game I’ve ever got a platinum on, yes it’s easy but I got it because the game gave you something back the whole way through. Reminds me of Mario kart games where completing it meant unlocking mirror modes and retro tracks etc. Way better rewards than a digital trophy.
    The PS5 leader board integration thing is a interesting comparative alternative to trophies, comparing speed run times or whatever with mates is interesting.

  7. In general, I think trophies/achievements in games are getting easier somewhat. When I got a PS3, I was immediately greeted with the Warhawk, Resistance 2, Little Big Planet & Motorstorm: Pacific Rift trophy lists. I loved the games but the trophy requirements are insane. Me and crazy_del worked together to get the Resistance 2 platinum which took many months of grinding to get 10k kills. I’m thankful that the likes of God of War, Spiderman, Horizon don’t have mega requirements.

    Saying that there is GT Sport with an insane trophy list but there aren’t as many games like that these days thankfully.

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