I have a love-hate relationship with achievements and trophies. Many times I start a game thinking about going for all, but then I find more than one that is not fun, that forces me to do something stupid or to replay a specific section in a way that does not suit me. For this reason, I ask myself: should we rethink its design? Why do we keep collecting them? Are they worth it? I’m not clear.
The last game in which I considered getting all the achievements and trophies was Elden Ring. I squeezed the last game out of FromSoftware all i could, but I had several left to get: the one to get all the endings and one of a weapon. I thought about replaying the title again a couple of times to reach all the conclusions that I needed, but for what? I already had the necessary items to activate them, why go through another hundred hours of gameplay again? to get to the same point? The funny thing was that the trophy hunters who wanted this endgame achievement didn’t do that, instead they generated a parallel game save to finish Elden Ring with the various variants. Is that fun?
The truth is that there are very few trophies that offer pleasant challenges, that ask us to play the title in original ways or that really contribute something. The first achievements came in 2007 with Xbox 360, and a year later trophies appeared on PS3. However, this system never implemented on Nintendo Switch. In 2012, Reggie Fils-Aime was blunt: “that is not our philosophy.” Honestly, in 2022 I’m more and more on Nintendo’s side on this issue.
There are communities of no-hitters and lore hunters, why aren’t there more trophies related to this?
Before the arrival of achievements and trophies, games promoted replayability by adding more modes and a longer post-game. However, and at the same time that these became popular, the titles preferred turn to them to lengthen your gaming hours instead. And what’s worse in my opinion, these trophies tend to give more importance than they should to the completion of boring, repetitive and totally tedious tasks. Yes, I mean the 100 pens Assassin’s Creed 2but also to all the padding that it has one of my favorite open world games: the recent spider-man from PS4 and PC. It’s a really fun title, but would you collect all the backpacks, Cat Woman’s stuff, etc if there weren’t any trophies involved? I do not. There is another issue that needs to be mentioned. Through the content creators we can see what players do with their games when they finish them, how they get the most out of them and what missions they embark on by sheer will. There are communities of no-hitters and lore hunters, why aren’t there more trophies related to this? Why the vast majority are to collect all the garbage that is scattered here and there? And what is more important:why there are people who are passionate despite everything?
David Vallejo, psychologist and player, answers me: “if the player is a person who likes to try and try new challenges, this will lead him to try new personal experiences and contemplate his future in a creative way. He will not be a person who looks for routine games but is open to trying new alternatives such as trying to find trophies, and if he is also a disciplined person, that is, he has the goal of achieving his trophies and, little by little, he works on his goal, we will have the broth perfect cultivation to give answers to the question.” Before continuing with this article, I want to make one thing clear: everyone enjoys video games as they really want, that is not in question. More would be missing.
Are you for or against trophies and achievements in video games?
Zhakey, a content creator especially dedicated to making achievement guides, tells me: “Creating achievement guides or trophies comes from a bad time in my life. When I discovered achievements on Xbox 360 I was going through a very strong depression, and thanks to them I kept distracted. I entered the old achievements360 website, now known as achievementsxbox, and little by little I became interested in the subject (…). Really, for me, the important thing was not to raise the score of the achievements or having many Platinums, I just started to like making guides, and to make the guides 100% you had to get them all. I’ve always liked to complete the games I like as much as possible.” In other words, as David Vallejo explained to me, the discipline and perseverance inherent in achievement helped Zhakey.
Wouldn’t an integrated speedrun mode or a no-hit mode be better? Why do not you do?
However, and despite what both explain to me, I can’t stop thinking about the version of metal gear solid 3 from 3DS. Since metal gear solid 2various installments of Kojima’s games included the exciting European Extreme mode. She adored him. This mode was that if someone saw you, you died and had to go back to the save point. This, today, would result in a trophy that is not achieved if you are discovered. In Stray there is one who makes the baby Jesus cry because of how difficult he is; he reminds me of this. It’s called “you can’t cajole me” and it consists of overcoming a very complicated chase without taking a single hit. The point is that, by posing the challenge through an external prize to the game, there are no mechanisms to restart it naturally as there is in European Extreme. Wouldn’t an integrated speedrun mode or a no-hit mode be better? Why do not you do? One reason, of course, is economics. Nowadays making games is very expensive. Betting on replayability or challenges through achievements and trophies serves to save. The another reason is social networks.
We are no longer just consumers, we are prosumers. We are individuals who generate content, but who also produce it. That we care about sharing what we do as players is something that was more than demonstrated with the appearance of the share button. Because beware of this, it was given a privileged position in Dual Shock 4 and it was even written on the command that was to share videos and photos. Today, if you get a trophy, an automatic capture is made so you don’t forget to move it through social networks. This matters a lot to brands, that’s why they always incorporate the hashtag that touches your publication. Because yes, the achievements and trophies you get serve to fuel the marketing machine. It is much more direct, concrete and visual to share that image with the unlocked trophy on social networks than an entire game playing European Extreme. So, have we sacrificed quality challenges and a good post-game in exchange for free publicity for the industry?
Have achievements and trophies made the quality of game content worse?
“We have two types of trophies, those that reward the player who progresses through the main story and those that those who explore or seek to face greater challenges are rewarded“, tells me Fernando Sánchez, founder and CEO of Aeternum Game Studios and authors of the recent Summum Aeterna. “The trophies of the main story are an affordable challenge, not easy, that are raised so that any player who loves the metroidvania genre can As for the seconds, some of them are real challenges that we know few players will be able to achieve, which is what makes the reward and effort more satisfying for the player.”
“I wish online achievements or trophies didn’t exist, and if they do, they would be separate from the base game.” (Zhakey)
So much Summum Aeterna What Aeterna Noctis They are two really difficult games, very good, but more difficult than being self-employed in Spain. It is in these types of titles that it is most satisfying to defeat a difficult boss and show off the corresponding achievement on social networks. So yes, I also enjoy the achievements. I loved that, by killing Malenia in Elden Ringa little music will play, a trophy will appear and that moment will be saved for posterity, because all that fanfare turned that moment into a celebration, in the achievement of a fun goal that I longed to achieve But chasing achievements and trophies isn’t always fun..
Zhakey continues explaining to me: “I wish that online achievements or trophies did not exist, and if they do were separated from the base game, the truth is that I do not consider that they provide any type of ret. The only thing they can achieve is that you spend an absurd amount of time playing the game, or that when the servers are closed that game can no longer be completed (…). For me Dying Light 2 what an ordeal in every way, both for the list of achievements and for the number of bugs (…). I lost up to 30 hours of gameplay due to bugs, and if it wasn’t for the guide I would never have finished it. It has an achievement or trophy that asks you to travel 960km, but not even doing 100% of the content of the game are you going to reach that amount.” This case is not unique, it happens in many more games than in Dying Light 2, and it will continue to happen.
What do we ask of achievements and trophies to improve them?
For this situation to change and we are all in favor of this award system, neither achievements nor trophies can be an excuse not to add extra quality content to games, nor a reason to collect all the junk that there is for an open world . It cannot be a reason to ask the players to do tasks that don’t make any sense, and should be an incentive to approach the game in original ways. That is, there would have to be a no-hit achievement in sekiro or one of speedrun on Super Mario 64. There is a huge competitive scene in many games that should inspire challenge and trophy building. Achievements can never be the accent or the excuse of bad design or poor content.
There is a huge competitive scene in many games that should inspire challenge and trophy building.
Another way to make them better would be to have them collaborate with the narrative or the tone of the game. The achievements of Deconstructeam’s Essays on Empathy show photos of the study members in various everyday scenes of their lives during their development. What I mean by this is that there is a lot of room for improvement, I can’t help but have a certain mania for them because it seems that they only serve for us to publish tweets that facilitate a TT, cut content or add hours of poor quality gameplay. There are some great, funny and fun to get, but they are not the majority. And you? Do you like them the way they are now or do you have any ideas to change them for the better? They have so much potential…
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Achievements and trophies in video games, an award that more and more people cannot live without
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