I have to hold my hands up here and say that while I am by no means a rabid achievement hunter, I do enjoy earning them when they are present in games. The little ping they give, as well as the slightly more thrilling one that plays when the Xbox achievement is rare, drive me on to play a game. Yes there are other reasons that we can find to keep playing a game, but the pop of a cheevo is ever glorious.
However, I’ve noticed a trend, something in regards to Xbox achievements that has me worried. It’s time to share my concerns.
It started with a slew of games from publishers such as Ratalaika Games, and more to the point, Eastasiasoft. You know the sort of thing – games that are usually retro styled, and with easy achievement lists that hand you all 1000 Gamerscore of goodness within minutes of starting the game. Games like Thy Sword, like Pity Pit and Cave Bad, Many Faces and Takotan, these games (all of which I had to review, so I know of what I’m speaking) literally threw achievements at an alarming rate, and as a consequence the desire to keep playing through things just melted away.
I’m not alone in this, right? If a game gives you everything it has to offer in the first twenty minutes, do you feel like carrying on with it? Comments are at the bottom of the article, I’d honestly be interested to hear your thoughts.
Anyway, back on topic, the trend has started to get worse in the last few weeks. Just recently, Eastasiasoft has released a “Title Update” for a lot of their back catalogue, adding no new gameplay but instead throwing out another 1000G to the achievement list for largely no extra effort. I cannot for the life of me see what brought this decision on – anyone who had bought the game would surely have all the achievements already? Do they expect to garner extra sales on the promise that their game is now worth 2000G instead of 1000G?
Just as an experiment, you understand, I did download some of the Eastasiasoft titles again to see what these new achievements added, and the honest answer is “not much”. The first one I tried, Cave Bad, had us collect some coins and kill a few monsters, as well as breaking some blocks – the extra achievements were hoovered up in about ten minutes. I then moved on to Pity Pit and it turns out that it is still such a dreadful game to play that not even extra achievements could convince me to keep playing. It truly is a terrible, terrible game.
The same could be said for the rest – the extra achievements really did not entice me to play very much extra, as many are just cheap rubbish.
On the back of this, it appears that Ratalaika Games were all set to follow the pattern and release Title Updates for their own games. Due to an outcry against this they have backed off from the decision and now will no longer do it. And I for one am pretty glad about that, as I feel that the achievement as a concept is under threat, basically becoming devalued.
Let me explain what I mean.
There are certain games I’ve played which have left me driven to completely finish them, earning every achievement along the way. This was mainly back in the Xbox 360 days, with Skyrim being one of my proudest completions (before they released DLC and ruined it!), along with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 which was my first completion featuring online multiplayer, and again remains a proud completion to this day.
I have still got the urge these days, and was forced to complete Elden Ring completely, requiring three different playthroughs to get each of the endings. So far, so good, right? A completion of 100% used to mean something; that either a game was very good or that you were a skilled gamer in order to get all available achievements.
Nowadays? We live in a world where Aabs Animals is a thing, and 1000G can be yours for watching a cat, on screen, for 15 minutes. How is this an achievement? It can’t even be called a game in my book, because while you can move the camera, you don’t interact with the cat at all. I had to download it on the back of a great review on this very site (seriously, go and read Dave’s review of Aabs Animals on Xbox right now!), and I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what I was seeing. Without a word of a lie, I left it running and went and watched Antiques Road Trip instead; it was only my phone pinging as these achievements were “earned” that let me know when to go and uninstall the “game”.
So is this the path we gamers are doomed to go down? Where achievements are completely worthless and have no real bearing on the type of game or gamer that we are? I really hope not, as while some achievement requirements are truly ridiculous (looking at you Gears of War), if somebody has Seriously 3.0, for instance, you know that he or she has invested a seriously (pardon the pun) crazy amount of time into the game and damn well earned it. I felt no sense of achievement for “finishing” Aabs Animals, and also not a huge amount for the cheap little games with easy lists I mentioned at the top of the article.
I know that people like to have a high G score, as if it means something, and I too would love to break 500,000G, but I also want the score to stand for something, not just that I have essentially bought 1000G chunks as I played all these little games. Is that too much to ask?
What about you guys out there, is achievement hunting and Gamerscore gathering something that gets you interested, or could you not care less? Do you agree that achievements these days are not a patch on the lists that we used to have to work through, and that a lot of the creativity in the lists has gone AWOL? Are you happy to mop up the small games and get the easy Gamerscore? Let us know in the comments!