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.

Vincent Bystry
Life long video game player with diverse tastes in genre. Tactical RPGs, JRPGs, FPS, and Survival Horror are favorites, though. Follow me on Twitter @vebystry and let's talk games!

    5 Comments

    1. Just play games for the sake of the game.

    2. You are a sucker if you buy trash games just for trophies.

    3. Feel bad for you. Never needed trophies to enjoy my games, i had that feeling but git past it quick. never got platinum in a ps3 game and could not care less

    4. I get it. Once you make gaming about the trophies it can be consuming. It replaces in game progression with a wider platform progression that becomes more important. I was there once, and then fortunately my PS3 got stolen so I had to restart years later and just didn’t want to re-do all the games haha.

      Recently my buddy started going for trophies and I told him to be careful not to let it ruin gaming, as he will start not wanting to play awesomely, replayable games anymore once he got the trophies. He SWORE it wouldn’t happen.. kept reminding him.. here we are. I can’t get him to play much of anything if there isn’t a trophy to be earned. It feels like a waste of time to him. He also grinds at games he straight doesn’t enjoy just to get the trophies, practically all the free monthly games. It does take mad dedication though. I can’t do it. I will platinum games I love as long as there isn’t too much trouble involved, but I am not likely to go out of my way to platinum a bad game unless I have it and it’s stupid easy, because then I can get closer to another $10 credit on PS Store and the player ranking rise is nice.

      Though there are games that really do trophies right. Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 are recent examples (while Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2 are not). In the first X game, it has you learn how to get the Hadouken and you get a trophy for it. It also has you find all the hidden hearts and armor which are not hard at all, just neat little secrets. There are lots of Easter egg related trophies. However the original Mega Man compilations were horrible, had you do incredibly difficult challenges that my same friend, who also grew up having beat all mega mans and loved the games an even has tattoos of them, still just can’t bring himself to do. He tried a lot and it was just a waste of time failing.

    5. this is an interesting article. i have some parallel sentiments with slightly differing conclusion. we share an interesting aspect of merit based systems in that it affects what we purchase, while you may avoid a game without a platinum, i might avoid or delay purchasing games with certain types of trophies. any game that would make me play it differently than would be enjoyable, so think slog or grindy things like forced replays, collectibles, multiplayer, missables, glitched trophies.

      i have got caught up in doing these things but increasingly i have less and less tolerance for them and i consider them bad design. not just because i do not enjoy them but if you look at completion rates for certain trophies and achievements you see the majority of peoples do not either. i feel developers are not being self aware when i hear them talk about creating content that most consumers do not finish while then implementing the same exact trophies that show less than 50-10-1% of consumers acquire.

      developers know people do not like these things because they were tracking statistics even before the inclusion of trophies so instead of making games better in terms of design (innovation?) achievements are used manipulate people into doing things they wouldn’t bother to do otherwise, which i believe is unethical.

      still, here i am having just finished another one of those games with exact trophies i loathe that require a second (3rd because burke glitched into a turkey) playthrough of what is a fairly mediocre open world story game. but it is funny because lincoln says they gonna be some light skinned brothers and sisters with great hair? lol this guy literally was given nothing and is entirely okay with being a cuck, well, actually i shot them both and then got car bombed by the whack jawed preacher. okay it was worth $10 for that ending but im not replaying this. 81% and done, no dlc and no sequel for me.

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