We all know the distinctive sound of a trophy popping on PS3, PS4, or Vita, as well as the achievement notification on the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. To some, these trophies and achievements may seem like a superfluous, insignificant feature. However, these small additions to games are immensely important. There are whole communities based solely around obtaining these trophies and achievements, and they are playing a larger role than ever as the new consoles launch. Trophies and achievements are becoming more and more a sign of how accomplished of a gamer any one person may be, depending on Trophy Level, Gamerscore, or amount of Platinum trophies. While some may dismiss trophies and achievements as unnecessary features that don’t affect a game, it is, in fact, the opposite for so many people.
Trophies and achievements provide predetermined goals in a game. Some may not like this, especially in big open world games like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V. However, they become less of an annoyance, as something that must be achieved, in these types of games. Instead, they are an added bonus in open world games. You go out and do everything you want, and see trophies and achievements for something unique that the game will reward you for doing.
They come into play more in linear single player games. Most of the time, there are collectibles or other hidden items placed around the otherwise linear levels, and collecting them sometimes has no benefit in-game. Trophies and achievements provide a way around this. If the game doesn’t have any kind of unlockables from these hidden objects, although it’s better if they do, the trophies and achievements make collecting them meaningful. You always have an incentive to collect more and more hidden items to unlock these trophies.
On the PlayStation side, Platinum trophies are a huge incentive to trophy hunters. They are an accomplishment shown off as completion of a game to its fullest. They are considered to be the most important of the trophies, and, along with the trophy level, are the most important number in the trophy count. Platinum trophies are the ultimate achievement for trophy hunters. At points, having a Platinum trophy has been the deciding factor between two games that I couldn’t choose between. Even when games practically give you the Platinum trophy, like The Walking Dead or Terminator: Salvation, the feeling of getting the trophy notification never fails to excite, especially for a devoted trophy hunter like myself.
Trophies and achievements also provide a reason to play other, otherwise unplayed, game modes. In games like the Batman: Arkham series and Knack, there are combat-based game modes that don’t have much of an effect on the story, and are fairly insignificant for the overall game. However, the trophies and achievements for these games are what make me want to go play them to start, and many times I want to replay them for the gameplay elements.
The next-gen consoles are taking trophies and achievements to the next level. Both consoles integrate them more in profiles; although the PlayStation 4 puts trophies at a higher importance than Xbox One does achievements. On the PS4, there are notifications for friends earning trophies, and even rarity counters, which rate the trophies’ rarity based on how many owners of a specific game have any one trophy.
Finally, arguably the most important point. Trophies and achievements provide a lot of replay value for games, especially linear games. While they do normally have ones for finishing the game on one difficulty, there are also ones for, as I mentioned earlier, collecting a certain amount of hidden object, as well as beating the game on higher difficulties, defeating a certain number of enemies with a certain weapon, and so on. If done right, trophies and achievements will make players want to come back to a game for more. They make games much more valuable.
I believe that trophies and achievements do change how people play games. They try to accomplish more. Instead of just playing through a game and being done with it, there are incentives for replaying a game, collecting a certain amount of hidden objects, and playing other game modes that are otherwise left under the radar. They are a sign of accomplishment for gamers everywhere. Getting that coveted Platinum trophy or earning more achievements for a game never seems to get old. It seems that these accomplishments are much more integrated into the next-gen consoles, and they play a bigger role in one’s profile. Without trophies and achievements, there would be little reason to replay some games. Collecting trophies never seems to get old, and I can never wait until I get that next trophy notification.