Jul 20, 2008

5 Reasons Why Trophies Are Better Than Achievements

NextGen Player Feature Article - Part 2 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 2 of our feature article, I will examine the reasons why Trophies are better than Achievements. To view part 1, where I examined the reasons why Achievements are better to Trophies, please click here.

Playstation Trophies - A Brief Description

PlayStation 3 Trophies are a reward system on the PS3, introduced with the PlayStation 3 System Software 2.40 update.

Game Developers have the option of including pre-defined goals within their games, which when achieved will award the player a related trophy based on the skill required to attain the goal. Trophies can be bronze, silver, gold or platinum; with platinum given to players who collect every trophy in an individual game. Sony has introduced a redesigned PS3 Network Profile which displays a list the player's recently obtained Trophies, as well as the aggregate number of each Trophy type (bronze, silver, gold, platinum) collected.

5 Reasons Why Trophies Are Better Than Achievements

Reason #1: Tiered Reward System

Sure it can be argued that Sony has taken a long time to introduce a reward system for the Playstation 3, but the extra time they have spent has been used very wisely. Instead of copying the Xbox 360 method of assigning arbitrary point values to Achievements, Sony has had plenty of time to create an innovative new way to reward gamers. They have introduced a tiered reward system that assigns gamers one of four Trophies types (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) based on the skill required to unlock. Now gamers have a much more visual and familiar representation of their accomplishments to show off to their friends.

Even more importantly, the tiered reward system will allow PS3 gamers to immediately identify the type of gamers they encounter. For instance, if you see someone with a handful of bronze Trophies, and no silver or gold, you'll know that the particular gamer is a low-skill or casual player, with little interest in tackling the hardest of challenges to acquire the more prestigious Trophies. On the other hand, if you meet a gamer 50 gold Trophies, and a number of platinum Trophies, you'll instantly know that this particular player is a serious gamer, and someone you'd easily want to be on your side during online play.

Reason #2: RPG Elements

A Playstation Trophy feature sure to appeal to stat-building fans is the 'level-up' system that assigns gamers a numerical level (each player starts at level 1), based on the number and quality of the Trophies they have collected. As you collect Trophies, you gain experience towards your next level. As an added incentive to collect the more valuable gold Trophies, more experience is gained per Trophy in comparison to silver or bronze. This will serve to reward power gamers will more experience, and a higher level than their low-skill gamer counterparts. These RPG elements add a whole lot of depth and should serve to create some fun competition with your friends. Your friend has 50 Trophies to your 25? If you have mostly silver and gold Trophies to their vast collect of bronzes - so what? You'll have less Trophies, but more than likely a higher level.

The PS3 RPG-style leveling system also serves to increase the importance of every single Trophy, making potentially more rewarding to obtain than Achievements. Instead of adding an miniscule 10 points to your ever burgeoning Xbox gamerscore, each Playstation Trophy will add to your collection of bronze, silver and gold Trophies - and any one Trophy could level you up. Suddenly easy-to-grab bronze Trophies have much more appeal. Sony intentionally does not divulge the experience point value of a Trophy, nor do they inform gamers how many points they need to level up. Instead, once you collect a Trophy, a behind-the-scene computation takes place, adding an unknown quantity of experience to your total. I can see Trophy collecting going in waves, as you are approaching your next experience level, the drive to collect increases. Once you obtain your next level, your incentive drops, and it's time to take it easy for a little while. Overall, one can argue the PS3 Trophy level-up is a key differentiating factor that makes Trophies more appealing than Achievements.

Reason #3: Greater Incentive For Completion

Another key advantage Trophies have over Achievements is the motivation Sony has given us to collect all Trophies in each game. Once a player has collected 100% of the bronze, silver and gold Trophies in a game, the player is rewarded with an additional Trophy - the highly sought after platinum. This special, symbolic Trophy indicates you have achieved the highest level of mastery in the game and are a true completionist gamer. As an additional incentive to achieve 100% completion, the platinum Trophies add a much larger amount of experience points (in comparison to bronze, silver or gold) to your PSN gamer level. This will give serious gamers that added experience boost needed to gain levels fast and really differentiate themselves from low-level gamers.

Reason #4: Retroactive Trophy Support

It's no surprise that the Playstation 3 had a rough start with low hardware sales due to it's hefty $599 initial price tag. But in the last nine months the Playstation 3's fortune has reversed, with both console and software sales increasing dramatically year-over-year. To help feed the console's momentum, Sony has announced that a number of previously released first party PS3 games will be retro-fitted with Trophies, including Super Stardust HD, Warhawk, and PAIN. A few other previously released PS3 titles (e.g. Uncharted, Burnout Paradise, and Novastrike) should also be getting Trophy support down the road.

Since introducing Trophies, Super Stardust HD has enjoyed a massive revival and it's fair to say that following Trophy compatible games will attract a similar buzz. This gives a huge incentive for existing PS3 owners to dust off and replay shelved titles, as well as giving new PS3 owners an added boost to purchase the games. As we move into the busy fall season, Trophies will continue to steal momentum from Achievements as more games are retro-fitted and the hype for Trophies increases.

Reason #5: Playstation Home Integration

Sony may offer its most significant answer to the Xbox 360's Achievements once we see the launch of Playstation Home. The world of PlayStation Home will not only consist of players' houses, but reportedly it will also feature a Hall of Fame which will include a Trophy Room where users are able to display their gaming accomplishments. Sony has also announced that they are considering the possibility of only allowing the most prized accomplishments in your Trophy display, increasing the importance of collection those coveted gold and platinum Trophies. Playstation Home will give players a whole new way to interact and show off their prized collection, giving Trophies a much more tangible value than Achievements. Given that Playstation Home is still a work-in-progress (it's in private beta), details are still rolling in. Needless to say, the integration of Home is sure to be a huge differentiating factor a key reason why Trophies are better than Achievements.


In one swift move, Sony has set the bar high and now the true competition has begun. The question of whether or not Playstation Trophies will steal the thunder of Xbox 360's remains to be seen. One thing is certain though, with PS3 and Xbox 360 games nearly identical in graphics, control and sound, it's no longer acceptable to say "I'll get the 360 version, so I can get Achievements."


dont worry about it said...

very well put. there is an incentive to collect all trophies for one game as you are rewarded with a platnum trophy

Anonymous said...

too bad platinum trophies are only for retail games and not psn games

Anonymous said...

yes, theres no excuse now. Trophies have more value than Achievements in every way. Achievements are just numbers that lead to NOTHING but a higher meaningless number. When you can level up, and "actually" want to get all trophies, and aswell having them displayed in Home(if we get it lol). Trophies ftw of course

Player911 said...

While PS3 finally has some type of reward system... I don't think they set the bar higher on anything.

There are only 4 types of trophies to get... Live offers each achievement their own icon and point value. Harder achievements are valued higher while easy ones are 5 or 10 points. You can easily see what trophies anyone has and its value. I especially like the graphical representation of the achievement as well. Getting the same trophies all the time would become boring. The 360 version really adds eye appeal.

And just like the "RPG style" is the same on both platforms. The higher your gamer score the more achievements you've unlocked. The higher your score the better you appeal to other gamers.

Plus only a handful of games support these.

While it is good news that PS3 finally has rewards for going above and beyond in video games... they have lots of catching up to do still.

Anonymous said...

I agree that trophies are great, and the little pictures will serve me well, but they aren't as great as you claim them to be. You did not directly compare them to xbox 360's gamerscore correctly:
Your points:
1. Tiered system - this is also in xbox 360, but with more than 4 tiers, and a way to add them up valued on their weight, whereas the total number will appear on a ps3 a weighted total will appear on the 360.
2. RPG system - exactly the same as the xbox 360 with weighting and experience. the only difference is that ps3 has reduced it to an even smaller, less informative number, your level. I personally would love this on the xbox 360, but you do need to know, all it does is remove the want to get the platinum, verse getting more easier ones that add up to the same xp. So as they seem to advertise better for hardcore to get platinum, they also seem to remove this by applying one number to it.
3. This is the only real thing that makes me prefer this system to gamerscore, the level does not, the real level you have will be equal to the number of platinum you have. i have used the xbox360achievements forums, and members list their 100% game there. Which is proof that 360 owners want this exact feature.
4.no comparison, it should have been in since day one, and if it makes you pick up the 5 or so old games (and only in house sony games). I understand they cannot retroactively add them into every game, but because they do it for a few, you claim it is better than the 360 system.
5. Kind of cool, I do intend to have a trophy room, but I also dont intend to use home that often, nothing in it (even this) has made me want to use it, i have limited time, and when i am gaming, i want to be gaming. Never the less, this is a great feature for the hardcore

Just a personal view there, and all-in-all, i think it is a better system for the hardcore, especially if you can not use your level, and instead use your number of platinum trophies,and with home integration. But for the casual gamer, it offers nothing over the 360's system, and i actually prefer the 360's system.


Renai_Kakume said...

Its funny to see many xbox fans saying how much the trophy system isn't that good yet they know if they had it on there system they would be happy...it just goes to show who's a gamer and who's a fanboy. Me? though i'm a Sony fan i'm a gamer at heart and delve into all three systems head first Ps3, Wii, and finally got a 360 why? well i dont wanna have to worry about not playing a game ^_^

Paul Hunter said...

Hi there,

Thanks for comments on the article, there are some really good points brought up. I personally think both reward systems are amazing and each have their own unique advantages. While their are differences between the two, ultimately they both serve to create added value to gamers and extend the life of the games we play.

I'm very excited to see how Achievements and Trophies evolve over time.


Anonymous said...

I was going to correct this article but it looks like several of you have already done it.

What a list of weak reasons and one can argue that the Achievement system does all the things this piece described.

But one thing that makes Achievements superior IMO is that it is covered by every single game on the Xbox 360. Right now the PS3 has 1 game that supports it. Lame and not even in the same league unless Sony/Devs decide to go back and patch every one.

Blank said...

Interesting...but what does 'leveling up' do for you? I mean... theres no new reward or anything like that; no new features that are unlocked by 'leveling'. I have both a 360 and PS3; so is having a high level going to be the same thing as the loser who has a high gamerscore of 50000+?

Dont get me wrong, i think its a pretty cool idea; but i think this whole leveling up thing is overrated. On the 360 people with huge gamerscores are often just made fun of. I imagine the PS3 will have the same issues once people start leveling up and talking in the games.

Anonymous said...

how does the trophies being retro fit to games make it better than achievements? I'm a bit confused. All of 360 titles have achievements, so how does a few titles being updated to work with trophies make them better?

CruizD said...

nice read.
I think point 1 is a lil argueable.

Point 2 is valid but i wish thee was more differentiation just merely a level. For instance, d owe get something for being lvl 50 or something?

Point 3 i'm fine wit, though I don't see point 4 being any reason why trophies are better then achievements.

and Home integration in point 5... thats kinda cool actually.


Anonymous said...

While I agree trophies are the stronger of the two, the lack of any games that support them kinda defeats your whole argument :^(

Anonymous said...

I dislike how the author is constantly shunting "casual gamers" and "low-skill gamers" into something derogatory.

If people like him are the ones wishing for the Trophy system, then it'll continue to be the same dick waving fest that Achievement points are.

Congratulations. You're a "true" gamer.

Scottie said...

I like how your last two reasons aren't even comparitive to the Xbox 360--#4 talks about the fact that trophies can be earned for games that were released before the trophy system was, and #5 talks about its integration into Home.

In addition, reason #1 could be very easily reworded to apply to achievements--if you see someone with few gamerpoints, then you know they're a casual gamer. If you see someone with a lot of gamerpoints, then you know they're more of a hardcore gamer.

So the way I see it, you've got 2 reasons why trophies are more appealing than achievements, and unfortunately, you've failed to convince this semi-hardcore gamer.


Anonymous said...

I would only care about trophies if they were in games I enjoy and for things in the game that I enjoyed doing.

Best game for trophies on PS3 so far is probably Pixel Junk Monsters.

cusman said...

Trophies in pixel junk monsters would be awesome

Anonymous said...

I would rather take the Skill Point system of Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction.

There you earn Skill Points and after accruing various demarcations of them, you GET. THINGS. IN. RETURN.

Who cares about an online dick waving contest.

Anonymous said...

Player911 said...
While PS3 finally has some type of reward system... I don't think they set the bar higher on anything.

There are only 4 types of trophies to get... Live offers each achievement their own icon and point value. Harder achievements are valued higher while easy ones are 5 or 10 points. You can easily see what trophies anyone has and its value. I especially like the graphical representation of the achievement as well. Getting the same trophies all the time would become boring. The 360 version really adds eye appeal.

You're wrong there actually. Trophies have graphical representations as well, just like the 360.

Anonymous said...

late to the post, but had to comment. I have 360 and PS3, and the trophy system seems much better IMO. The 360 has individual pictures and points value, with higher points for more difficult achievements? How can you post that? you played COD 4? I can get 20 gamer points for takin out 5 people together on the the ground in an AC130! And yet the mile high club on Veteran difficulty netted me the same 20 points? Urrrm, not quite the balancing i'd expect. You know mile high club on veteran would be a gold trophy on PS3, and thus a more rewarding and better balanced. You could play easy games like King Kong, N4S most wanted and Avatar to net 3k points, that 3k doesnt express the difficulty involved in obtaining said score. But a glance at the trophies accumulated will show whether a player has boosted with Bronze, or has truly gone for gold and put time and skill to work to net a worthy level. Another example of the PS3 being last to arrive, but using its time to better the features of other consoles.

Paul Hunter said...

It's never too late to join in on a conversation, so thanks for your post.

I absolutely agree that the trophy system is great for easily determining how much time and skill gamers have put into their achievements. At a quick glance, you can see if a gamers collection of rewards are easy-to-grab bronze trophies, or more challenging (and more skill required) gold trophies. It's a little be harder to get this information from the Xbox Achievement system, unless you compare game-by-game.

For example, if someone has a gamerscore of 5,000, how do you know if this person has completely mastered 5 games or if they've acquired their 5,000 over the course of dozens of games?

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