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Achievements and Trophies: A Help or a Hindrance?

It’s not hard to see that achievements and trophies are here to stay. When Microsoft builds a E3 presentation for Rare Replay with 10,000 gamerscore being a selling point, you can tell they have a lot of faith in the system. The switch to the new generation of consoles as well has seen all Xbox games start at 1000 gamerscore and a lot of PlayStation games that would have been a gold trophy now have platinums. But is this a good thing? Are achievements and trophies helping the industry? Or are they hurting it?

For most gamers out there, this is a not an issue at all. Most people simply don’t care about meaningless numbers increasing. But there is a growing community that sure does. Most of this community didn't start this way either, with the launch of Xbox 360 certain people became hooked on getting various aspects of their gamercard more “prestigious” (me included). Since then it has snowballed into a fairly big thing that, as I mentioned above, even Microsoft seem to have cottoned on to. 

Here’s the issue though, having lived in this community for so long I have come to notice a lot of traits that people have that could in fact hurt the industry. When people decide whether or not to buy a game based on how easy or long the achievements or trophies are to get it could easily hurt sales if they are hard. Let’s take Gears of War 3 as an example. being a huge game it is bound to sell well regardless. But with the “Seriously 3.0” achievement being in its list some people simply skipped the game and that right there is a potential sale lost. Would these people have bought the game if achievements didn't exist? Who knows, but seeing people claim they are skipping a game or boycotting a company because of the achievements or trophies they made is a little worrying.

There is a flip side to that though. Look at Avatar: The Last Airbender on Xbox 360. How many achievement fanatics bought that game because they heard you can get the full 1000 gamerscore in a matter of minutes? I'm sure this helped the game’s sales quite a bit.

You may be thinking, “well the solution is simple: make every game have easy achievements or trophies”. I don’t think this would work too well either because many people will base their purchase on how long a game will take them to max out. If a game only takes 5 minutes to obtain the full amount then they will either rent it, wait for a sale, or not buy it at all.

So there are many ups and downs to consider when talking from the sales aspect. Do they help it or not? That’s hard to say. But let’s move onto the quality of the game being affected.

With games being released in a state that is almost unplayable and being forced to receive patches post launch, a case can be made that achievements and trophies are making this worse. Think about the time a developer has to spend to code in these awards, it’s easily time they could have spent polishing the game. It may not take a lot of time to code them in but when a deadline is set, time is valuable. It also doesn't help that if a game is released with a broken achievement or trophy, they spend time patching that instead of either working on a new project or expanding the current one.

Testing them is another resource that could be used to better effect as well. Especially if the achievements or trophies take some time to unlock. Games like Assassin's Creed Unity for example, how many of those glitches would have existed if the QA department weren't spending time testing achievements and trophies as well? Achievements and Trophies could be the reason we are seeing so many broken games nowadays.

Lets talk about gamers outside of the achievement community for a second. I'm sure they don't care about achievements or trophies, or have a passing interest that doesn't effect what they play and how they play it. But when games have achievements or trophies tied to playing in ranked matches these people get there experience ruined when they join a lobby full of boosters. They just want to play their game online and are booted out because they don't want to walk in and out of a circle. Lots of achievement and trophy people will say "well don't put in those achievements and trophies" and try to shift the blame solely onto the developers. But like I mentioned, these people might like it when they receive an achievement or trophy. They might not go out of their way to get an achievement or trophy but they might like being rewarded for what they are doing. I have a friend who fits that category perfectly. He doesn't look at achievement's but when he gets one it brings him a sense of accomplishment.

There are good things about achievements and trophies though. They often encourage you to explore everything a game has to offer or help you to experience a game that you would otherwise have not even given a second chance. My personal example of this is Mini Ninjas. I would never have given that game a chance if I had not heard that it was a relatively quick 1000 points, I'm glad I played it because it was in fact a great game and i would buy a true sequel in a heartbeat (not counting Kinect).

So what do you think? Do achievements and trophies help or hinder the community? Or maybe the pros and cons even out to make no difference? I know I play differently ever since I was introduced into such reward systems. Like I said in the intro this doesn't affect most gamers, but within the achievement and trophy communities they make a difference. I'm unsure if it is good or bad though...

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  1. Achievements have definitely changed the way i play. They've made me play games that i wouldn't usually play like the lego games for example. Normally i wouldn't have ever tried one of those games but since it had an easy 1000 gamerscore i played it and i loved them. I don't believe that achievements and trophies are the reason that games are broken nowadays. I think game companies are just more focused on quantity over quality. Instead of throwing their game out there broken they should just push it back a month or so and take the time to properly fix it.


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