Thursday, February 08, 2007

Game Informer "gets it" when it comes to achievements

The latest issue of my favorite gaming magazine has a great article on the Xbox 360's Achievement (Issue 167, page 44). The author outlines what makes achievements so great, and why it will help in the console wars of the generation.

Continue reading...

Many Wii and PS3 fanatics scoff at "gamerscore". Even some Xbox 360 owners say they don't care about the achievement system at all. They maliciously label it as "nerd cred" or meaningless numbers. My assumption on those types of conclusions is that "personal gain" isn't even considered. Yes, there is some public-show-off-ed-ness to gamerscore, but I consider that just something to keep between friends. Even in the latter case, gamerscore and achievements provide a big advantage over the premise of all Wii and PS3 games. As I've said before, it only takes two words to describe that advantage: "Replay value."

Since I own all three consoles, I've noticed the "lack of motivation" given by Wii and PS3 titles. Sure, you can run through Zelda or even Resistance Fall of Man. Blasting through though games will result in many extras being missed. But why bother? Many of us have made personal achievements in gaming over the years, but many of them have been forgotten because there was no reward and nothing short of a screen-shot could be used to prove the achievement to yourself. In the opposite situation, some side-quests were an overload of work with no payoff. These things cause replay value to be killed early. This is where the achievement system comes to the rescue.

For example, let's take FEAR for Xbox 360 and PS3. The games should be nearly identical. But one has Achievements while the other one doesn't. FEAR could easily be rented, and ran through on moderate difficulty. Multiplayer might get a little attention, but the road will probably stop shortly thereafter. There would be no motivation to play 1000 matches, complete the campaign without boosters, or even complete the campaign without dying. That just cut some hours of value out of that $60 game. But the 360 version has these "goals", and even puts them on your "record" if you get them. Completionists will get even more replay value plugging away at these goals to satisfy their personal obsession.

In reality, it's brilliant. Just like online scoreboards have brought back the fun-factor of the "High Score" from days-of-old, achievements compliment that idea to bring us forward in our hobby.

I highly suggest reading the article, whether it be in a Gamestop/EB Games store, or at a magazine stand somewhere.

Here's some choice quotes from the article:

Achievements definitely change the way you play your games.

Gamers are going out and purchasing games that they normally wouldn't even think of touching.

Our instinct to show off our skills is a powerful one, and Achievements perfectly play to this.

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