5 Reasons Why Achievements Are Better Than Trophies

NextGen Player Feature Article - Part 1 of 2
By Paul Hunter

With the launch of PS3 firmware update 2.40 on July 2, Sony has officially launched their own gamer reward system to compete with Microsoft's well entrenched Achievement system. Microsoft was the first the out of the gate, and has had two and a half years to refine and improve their product. With this experience under their belt, is Microsoft's Achievement offering better than their rival's Trophy system? Or has the extra time allowed Sony to develop a superior reward system?

In part 1 of this feature article, NextGen Player will examine the reasons why Achievements are better to Trophies. Next week, in part 2 we will examine the reasons why Trophies are better than Achievements.

Xbox Achievements - A Brief Description

Since the launch of Xbox 360, Microsoft has mandated that retail games offer 1,000 points spread over a variable number of Achievements, while each Xbox Live Arcade title contains 12 achievements totaling 200 points. Developers also now have the option of adding up to 250 points via downloadable content (for a total of 1,250 points), and Xbox Live Arcade titles may add up to 50 points via downloadable content (for a total of 250 points).

5 Reasons Why Achievements Are Better Than Trophies

Reason #1: Gamerscore Loyalty

Having been around for two and a half years now, Xbox 360 gamers have amassed a deep collection of Achievements - many of which have taken hours to acquire. A growing number of Xbox 360 players have surpassed the coveted 10,000+ Achievement mark, a feat that takes patience, perseverance and most importantly - commitment. With so many dedicated hours obtaining Achievements, do Xbox 360 owners really want to begin collecting Sony's Trophy offerings? Every hour spent collecting Trophies is one less spent collecting Achievements, and that means gamerscores will rise more slowly. To some, Achievements are a competition - and for those people, Trophies would be a distraction.

With such a well established reward system, Achievements are a major advantage for Microsoft. When deciding whether to buy an Xbox 360 or PS3 version of the same game, many gamers will agree that they select Xbox 360 for the Achievements. Until Trophies gain some traction and gamer loyalty, Achievements will be more desired.

Reason #2: Consumer Affinity

Being first on the market with a reward system has given Microsoft another significant advantage in the battle for consumer dollars. As many Xbox 360 owners can attest too, obtaining an Achievement is a very gratifying experience. For those used to collecting points, seeing the familiar "Achievement Unlocked" pop-up message and hearing the reward sound can be an exciting moment. Many Xbox 360 players view their gamerscore as part of their online identity, and Achievements create an instantly recognizable symbol of your commitment to hardcore gaming. There are entire communities formed based on the common interest of Achievements (e.g. Xbox360Achievements.org), and it's that strong personal affinity that will keep many gamers playing on Microsoft's platform.

Reason #3: Full Game Library Compatibility

Microsoft rolled-out their Achievement reward system for the Xbox 360 at launch, meaning all retail and downloadable games in the Xbox 360 library contain Achievements. The only exception to the rule is original Xbox titles purchased on the Live Marketplace, but that makes sense given these games never had Achievements when originally released. As an Xbox 360 owner, you are empowered with the knowledge that all games for your platform contain Achievements, no matter what the release date, distribution channel (retail vs. DLC), or publisher.

Conversely, things are much more complicated for the Playstation 3. Since firmware update 2.40 (which includes support for Trophies) was just released a few days ago, to date only Super Stardust HD has been patched for Trophies. Sony has announced a handful of other titles (see the list here) but the reality is that the vast majority of the Playstation library does not support Trophies. To further complicate the situation, a number of developers have stated that they will not be patching previously released titles. High profile games not receiving Trophy patches include: Call of Duty 4, Devil May Cry 4, GRID, Ratchet and Clank Future, Resistance, among others. While it's good to see some previously released PS3 games will receive Trophy patches, when compared to Xbox 360's full library compatibility, Trophies just don't stack up.

Reason #4: Better Online Integration

Another significant advantage Achievements have over Trophies is their online integration capabilities. Microsoft has leveraged their existing MSN Live ID infrastructure to allow gamers to login to their Xbox accounts with ease. When logged in, gamers have a full range of options available to them: including viewing their gamercard and comparing Achievements with friends. An additional edge Achievements have over Trophies is the ease in which gamers can display their gamercards online. Widget application provider My Gamer Card allows any Xbox 360 user the ability to display their gamercards on websites and in forum signatures effortlessly - with the gamercard will automatically updating your Achievement list in real-time.

Playstation Trophies, while still in their infancy, are still lacking in online integration. Sony has no comparable PSN login website where gamers can review and compare game performance with their friends. And while a company called Playfire has rushed to be the first to create Gamercard service for Trophies, their widget (still in beta) currently does not update Trophies in real-time. In order to display your Trophy list, users need to manually search and select which Trophies they have acquired. This is time consuming and as a gamer, we'd rather be playing then constantly updating some online form.

Reason #5: Manageability

Last, but certainly not least, the Xbox 360 interface is cleaner, faster to navigate, and more and intuitive. The easy-to-use dashboard allows gamers to access the information they need, such as browsing Achievements and comparing their performance with friends, in a shorter period of time. The Playstation 3 interface is improving, but is more cumbersome to navigate overall - and you still can't call up the XMB to review your Trophies during playback of PS2 games, Blu-Ray discs, and DVDs. Microsoft has built a more manageable reward system that allows gamers to spend less time flipping through menus and spend more time doing what they do best - game.