Ever since, one fabled day, Microsoft unleashed the Xbox 360 on an unsuspecting public on November 22nd, 2005, gaming achievements have been quite a big deal. Up until then, the mere act of playing and enjoying a game was its own reward. But all of a sudden we were being fed small dopamine hits for seemingly simple tasks, watching out Gamerscore tick ever upwards.
It didn’t take long for there to be an outcry that the PlayStation 3 didn’t feature achievements, and thus trophies were eventually born. There followed a frenzied period for a few years where it seemed just about everyone was caught up in the rush for achievements and trophies. People were actively seeking out terrible games with easy achievements, or avoiding great games with impossible trophies. The gaming world sort of lost its mind a bit, myself included.
After a while, achievements found themselves layer into just about everyone. Valve added Steam achievements, EA did the same and then Ubisoft followed suit. Now, over a decade later, achievement fever has died down somewhat. However, for those trying to extract as much play time out of a game as possible, this feature remains as the ultimate carrot on a stick.
All these years later though, are you still into game achievements. Were you ever? It’s easy to see the benefits when implemented correctly. Achievements can steer gamers into playing in a new one, trying out new tactics bumping up the difficulty. When they’re implemented thoughtfully they can be a heck of a fun way to discover all that’s possible in a game, particularly that which originally seemed impossible. They can get players to try out factions they ordinarily wouldn’t in a strategy game, or try to speedrun through a game as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, most game achievements tip over into lazy. Getting an achievement for finishing a level isn’t fun. Or booting up the game. Or grinding 2,000 kills with a specific weapon. The difficulty of getting these doesn’t really matter, they just don’t actually add anything new to a game aside from watching an achievement or trophy score tick upwards. I’ve earned more than my fair share of hollow achievements, and it’s the habit to kick when you’re locked into it.
What ultimately did it for me though was when I picked up a Wii U (I know, I know). Nintendo has never bowed to pressure on achievements. It has games with in-game achievements, like Smash Bros or Kid Icarus, but it’s never implemented some over-arching system. After years of trying to get Steam achievements, Gamerscore and Trophies, it was a blessed relief to play on a system where none of it was even possible, breaking me out of my achievement bind for good.
So I’d love to know where everyone else stands on this one. Are you big into collecting achievements? Are they just unnecessary? Do they encourage you to play a game in ways you ordinarily wouldn’t? Get voting and let us know why below!