Is it Time for Developers to Rethink their Trophy Strategy?
When Sony first announced the concept of Trophies, it was pretty damn cool.
What wasn’t to like? The idea of rewarding gamers for various accomplishments when playing went over well with just about everyone, and Microsoft soon followed suit with Achievements. Developers had a chance to be really creative, too; they could create rewards for very specific challenges in each game, thereby allowing the player to see and appreciate even more of what that game had to offer. Furthermore, the fact that there were ranked rewards – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – made it all the more appealing.
But now that Trophies and Achievements have been around for quite some time, maybe it’s time developers rethought their strategy for these mini-rewards. Nothing has really changed much since the inception of these incentives and frankly, I think a lot of gamers have lost their taste for chasing them down. For the most part, unless you want to spend your life with one particular game, or you consider yourself an ultra-hardcore gamer with a whole lot of spare time, the Platinum Trophy is essentially out of the realm of possibility. Nobody I know even bothers trying for it, as we’re all adults now and we simply don’t have that kind of time.
Then you’ve got the meaningless Trophies, the ones you get for, you know, starting the game or killing your first enemy or whatever. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the insane Trophies, which require you to get 10,000 headshots in a row while equipped with nothing but a slingshot and doing a crab walk. Then there are the secret or hidden Trophies, some of which you couldn’t find in a million years if you didn’t go online for help. Others are hardly secret at all; you get them and you didn’t even know they were “hidden.” The point is, this remains a deeply flawed system for a large portion of the gaming populace, so I believe it’s time for a few changes.
One idea is to have two Platinum Trophies, one each for single-player and multiplayer. Having to get all the Trophies for both sides of a gaming experience is exceedingly frustrating, and given the very different nature of campaign and multiplayer experiences, few want to chase down every Trophy in both. Most gamers will say they greatly prefer either/or in any given game and really, it’s quite logical most times. For example, most players will want to pursue a multiplayer Platinum Trophy for shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, while a Platinum Trophy for the campaign in an Uncharted adventure makes perfect sense to most.
Another idea is to somehow link Trophies and Achievements to real rewards. In other words, perhaps earning all or a certain percentage of the Trophies in any given game will net you a little something from the PlayStation Store for the game. There could be levels here as well; i.e., when you collect 25 percent of the Trophies available, you can snag a unique character skin on the Store. If you put in the time and effort for the Platinum, maybe there’s a free piece of DLC for you; an extra mission, a set of new weapons, etc. There are any number of ways to approach this and it would add real incentive to the purely cosmetic incentive of seeing a little digital Trophy on your screen.
Lastly, I really think most developers just need to be more realistic with their Trophy/Achievement array. They exist for every single game and it’s a big mistake to assume every purchaser of that game is wicked hardcore. According to most analyst stats, over 80 percent of the industry consists of those who identify themselves as casual gamers now, so it’s silly to have a reward system that an extremely low percentage of the population will really care about. Not only do we have lives but most of us don’t want to spend half the year playing one game, killing ourselves to get that elusive Platinum. Has anyone noticed just how many good games come out in any given year these days?
The bottom line is that developers really need to shake things up on the Trophy/Achievement side of the industry. If they do, maybe people will start taking notice again.