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).
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!