PlayStation trophies have ruined gaming as I have known it since childhood for me. There, I said it. This doesn’t discount Xbox’s Achievement system either, as I’m referring to the platform specific merit system as a whole, really. I also love these merit systems. This has affected my gameplay experiences in many ways for better and for worse. It’s complicated so let me explain.
I remember being a kid and feeling so rewarded for going the extra mile in video games to unlock secrets and extra content. This was a key aspect of many games to keep replay value up. These were great ways to reward players for really delving into a developer’s project. These days, it appears that these extras are held behind paywalls or at the very least released as free downloadable content. Those methods of obtaining secrets or going above and beyond the gameplay design? Those are rewarded with small instances of a pop-up on your screen now instead of a cool new little feature like a costume, Easter egg, or optional boss battle. Sure, these awesome additions to games are certainly not extinct, but I feel they are not as prevalent as they used to be.
I envy those game players that aren’t entwined in the PSN Trophy system. I don’t know what it is, but trophies have become a burden to a certain degree. Developers need to facilitate fun ways to acquire these trophies to make them worthwhile. The latest God of War had one of the best trophy lists of recent memory to me. Sticking with story progression, accomplishment of side tasks, and combat techniques, it was very feasible to pursue them. Take Friday the 13th The Game for instance, and you’ll have a troubled list to say the least.
Playing a great game and missing several trophies irks me. I can’t really explain it, but I feel the need to acquire all trophies in games I’m putting a lot of time into. While that certainly accomplishes the goal of extending replay value, it’s often a boring task. There are usually one or two trophies in a game that are easy to acquire, but it’s a huge time investment. These mostly involve collectables or killing a certain amount of enemies. One of the more recent platinums I acquired was Stories: Path of Destiny. The game is great and I recommend it to action RPG/choose your own adventure lovers. The problem was a trophy that required the player to level up the main character to max. It is completely unnecessary, as the game will likely have been completed numerous times before it’s accomplished. I had to replay the same level to maximize experience gained over and over and over again just to do it. It was a slog to say the least, but I had to do it. I wasn’t having fun, but I couldn’t let that platinum escape my grasp.
The antithesis of this are the cheap $2.99 or less games on PSN designed to sucker in trophy hunters for easy gamer cred. The games themselves are either extremely easy, may not even be considered a real game at all, or are some of the buggiest messes to ever be published. But they sell and keep releasing, because trophy junkies need their fix. I refer to this attitude as “dingin’ trophies,” and I go through periods of time where I just play games to get trophies. That little ding is comforting.
These merit systems have also driven me away from playing games that don’t support them at all. This is mainly aimed at Nintendo, but if a game doesn’t even have a platinum trophy on PSN, I’m unlikely to give it a shot in the first place. Since realizing this, I’ve tried to tone down my trophy addiction. It ebbs and flows, but that desire to go “dingin’ trophies,” is very much alive. I’m just not as much of a slave to it as I was a few years ago, and I’m thankful for that epiphany. Play the games you enjoy and don’t get caught up in the ephemeral gaming merit systems like I did is what I’m trying to say I guess.