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Are Achievements and Trophies Really that Special?

When did playing video games become a chore? It used to be that the only thing you needed to beat the game was to actually finish the game. I mean, you play through it, hope you don’t die, and defeat the final boss or villain and the game was done. In times past, that was enough to satisfy most gamers. And if the game was really good gamers would play through it again and again to either beat their friends times or just simply because the game was just that good. Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Contra, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat… those are just a few of the great games in the past that had you playing them over and over again for no other reasons than because they were good games. That was incentive enough in the past - even years later and into the mid-2000s, a good game was enough to keep you playing it. But then something happened when Microsoft began introducing Achievements for some of the games on their Xbox systems, a tactic that Sony would also employ (in Trophies form) for their PlayStation consoles.

Now, all of a sudden, a good game wasn’t reason enough to continue playing a game after beating it. Now you had to do specific actions in the game to unlock some kind of Achievement/Trophy that showed you were able to do so. Some were as simple as looking around or killing your first enemy encountered; others were a bit more complex and required you to reach a certain required rank in the game or find a certain number of secret or hidden objects. And then there were some that were meant only for the die-hard fans of the game that insisted you either complete every trial in the game or beating an entire game without taking any damage whatsoever. That’s all good and all, some people love to have something to chase after besides completing the game; but when some games require you to reach every single Achievement/Trophy to get 100% game completion – that takes away a lot of the casual fun some players had.

This is especially true when the game is decent at best. Now, finishing the game is no longer all it takes to actually finish the game. To get full completion you have to task through the game and try to complete everything the Achievement/Trophy list requires. Do you know how hard that is to do when the game is barely playable? The developers must have. They must have realized early on that their game would be a so-so game so the only way they could think of to add replayability to their game was to add on mundane and pointlessly impossible Achievements/Trophies for people to collect. That was their escape clause – their way to make sure someone would keep playing their game. Bullet Witch, Naughty Bear, Kung Fu Rider… these games include worthless Achievements/Trophies to entice players to continue to play their games so players could display their rewards online for others to see.

That is not to say that every gamer is going to reach for everything in every game, though there are some who are out there that will – no, thankfully most gamers are smart enough to realize a game is that bad and walk away from it while they still can. But it is the inclusion of these Achievements/Trophies that developers think will trick players into continuing to play their games that bug me. Do they really think that we are that dumb that we won’t realize a bad game is bad that we will continue to play the game just to get every Achievement/Trophy? That was their answer to achieving replayability? They couldn’t think of anything better to do, like say making the game better, to further entice players to continue playing their game?

In my opinion, all that adds up to is laziness on the development and publishing team’s part and apathy towards their own consumers. Worst still would be simply to rush a game out there half-assed solely to make some kind of profit rather than taking the additional time to further work on and polish out any kinks the game might have. If that is the case, and it keeps on happening on a consistent basis from certain game makers, then gamers really need to evaluate if it is really worth it to continue purchasing games from a company that values their entertainment and belittles their intelligence. Quite frankly, as a gaming consumer, I would find the continued practice insulting and appalling.


Richard "aRCee" Cardenas is the Editor-in-Chief of Nfamous Gamers. You can follow him on Twitter.


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