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The Virtues of the PlayStation Trophy System

May 18, 2009 Written by Draisey

Destructoid posted an article that strongly criticized PlayStation Trophies, while at the same time stating that Xbox 360 Achievements are significantly more meaningful and successful. However, Destructoid’s circular logic and repetitive complaints did little to actually explain why it held this to be true. In fact, many of the complaints it made were flat out wrong.

The first complaint that Destructoid makes is pretty bold:

“…unlike MS Achievements, Trophies have so far failed to really add much of anything to [the] gameplay experience.”

I strongly disagree with this. If anything, Trophies have enriched the gaming experiences of PS3 owners by allowing and encouraging us to play through our games more thoroughly and skillfully. It’s one thing to play through Mirror’s Edge the normal way, and another to win the “Test of Faith” Trophy, which requires you to complete the game without shooting a single enemy. Not only does this affect how you approach the levels, it also forces you to master the hand-to-hand combat and acrobatics of Mirror’s Edge.

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“The major issue with Trophies, as it stands, is the fact that the PlayStation Network has not succeeded in creating the feeling of a true online identity for its players. The rather alienating XMB and awkwardness of communication makes it far more difficult for gamers to feel connected to their PSN handles than they do their Gamertags.”

The problem with this argument is that players’ online identities have actually become more unique with the recent implementation of Trophies. As with MS Achievements, the Trophies define who you are as a player, highlighting the games that you own and the objectives that you worked hard to achieve.  Trophy accomplishments and online identity simply go hand in hand.

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Destructoid’s complaints go even further, stating that the PS3′s “sluggish XMB feels archaic and inconvenient to use.” This is completely laughable considering that the XMB is both simple and powerful to use, as noted by IGN. Even during gameplay, the only thing separating you and your trophy list is a single press of the Home button. However, the real problem with Destructoid’s views is apparent with the author’s following statement.

“Nearly all my Trophies so far are Bronze, and I struggle to give a shit about any of them, because we all know that Bronze is for losers. Unlike Achievements, which have an ‘every little helps’ aura about them, the PlayStation Trophies don’t feel like they work towards anything.”

Firstly, the author seems to be upset at the fact that they haven’t been skilled enough to win many of the Silver or Gold medals, and it’s unfortunate that they let this completely blind them from a small, but pivotal fact. It’s true that MS Achievements are all built equally, and are all attainable without the help of other achievements. Some are worth more than others (just like Trophies), but don’t have the arbitrary name associated with them, such as Bronze, Silver, etc.

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But what the author doesn’t seem to realize is that trophies have discreet values. In addition to this, Sony implemented Platinum trophies, which can only be unlocked when the player earns every trophy within a game. Though the author states that PS Trophies don’t work towards anything, this definitely isn’t the case.

  • Bronzes are worth 15 points.
  • Silvers are worth 30 points.
  • Golds are worth 90 points.
  • Platinums are worth 180 points.

PS Trophies work together, and help unlock an enormous amount of points if a player dedicates enough time to complete every trophy. MS Achievements have absolutely no way of allowing Xbox 360 owners to win an extra 50 or 100 points for earning that final 5 point achievement for a specific game. With the PS3, however, you can unlock a 180 point Platinum Trophy by completing a 15 point Bronze Trophy. This encourages full playthroughs as two pivotal parts of the PS Gamer Card: bragging rights, and leveling up their overall score.

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Though Destructoid states that “the PSN experience is always going to feel like a step behind what the Xbox brand currently offers,” it’s hard to deny that Sony has taken the achievement concept to the next level. Rather than trying to get a higher overall number than other players, you can compare individual trophy stats and understand the context of how they earned those trophies. Sure, someone may have a higher Level than you based on their PSN Gamer Card, but if all they earned is Bronze trophies then you can tell that they’re a casual user. Meet someone with an arsenal of Platinum trophies however, and you’ll know you’re face to face with a skilled, hardcore gamer.

Despite these significant differences, Achievements and Trophies are essentially the same and serve identical purposes. In fact, a comparison of multiplatform games shows that the Trophies and Achievements are identical across both the PS3 and 360 SKUs, and similar in point allocations. There’s no reason to bicker over “which one is better”, because Trophies and Achievements are there for bragging rights and a sense of personal achievement. That’s what they were built for, and both have made amazing contributions to not only how videogames are played, but how they are designed.

*Disclaimer: PSLS is not attacking Destructoid, just stating a difference of opinion.