Trophy Theory: Letting Go and Accepting Trophy Defeat

May 3, 2017 Written by Chandler Wood

One of the hardest lessons that any PlayStation trophy hunter has to learn is when to let go. That point comes at a different time for everyone. Many people can look at a trophy list and not even care about these digital pats on the back. Others will drive themselves mad going for every trophy on a list no matter how much effort or time they need to put in to complete it. Of course the ultimate defeat comes when the trophies aren’t even possible to get anymore, often due to server shutdown, forcing the trophy hunter to accept the fact that certain trophies will never be earned, and certain lists will never be complete.

Here at Trophy Theory, most of us are obsessed with trophies. It’s the whole reason I started this column. I wanted to share my obsession with everyone else and talk with like minded people that seek trophies just as much as I do. As obsessed as I am, I have had to accept that there are trophies that I will just never get. Letting those potential Platinums go was hard to do but there are many reasons to accept that a trophy may just not be worth trying to earn anymore.

Time Requirement Not Worth It

Sometimes the time required to get a trophy is just not worth it. The time spent trying to get a single trophy in a game could be much better spent playing something… anything else. It’s up to each player how much they really enjoy the game they are playing. For you it may be that reaching rank 50 in Overwatch just doesn’t sound like a fun task. For me, it was earning $5 million in Grand Theft Auto IV’s online mode. I realized that I really didn’t like the game enough to keep playing it for the time required to earn all that green. I took this moment to mourn the death of the chase, and it was the start of a beautiful path to accepting that sometimes I won’t get all of the trophies in a game, and that’s okay.

Skill Ceiling Too High

This one can feel defeating to any player. Think about a trophy that you’ve tried again and again for but continue to fail the requirements. Whether it’s making it through hard difficulties, completing tricky tasks, or doing things in a certain amount of time, sometimes there’s just a trophy that falls beyond the range of your set of gaming skills. The worst part about these trophies is that they can quickly become time consuming when failing again and again, even if the initial requirements don’t seem like they would take that long. They guy next to you may be able to earn it in a couple of minutes in a first playthrough, where it may take you hours and hours of retries.

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One notable trophy that recently popped up with this issue for me was the Psychonauts trophy I LOVE PUNCHING! which required me to complete the notoriously difficult punchy target minigame. I persevered and ended up getting it, but this was a trophy that nearly cost me the Platinum for Psychonauts, one of my favorite games of all time. When I did finally get it, I had spent far more time playing that one stupid minigame than I want to admit.

Just Not Fun

Sometimes you start a game and it ends up not being as great as you thought it would be. Unfortunately there’s a trophy for completing the tutorial, and a couple other miscellaneous accomplishments that come early on in the game, and now you’re locked in. You can’t delete it, and you’re faced with the hard decision of accepting a dismal trophy list with a low completion percentage, or pushing through a game that you really don’t enjoy to try and make your list look a tad more respectable.

I narrowly escaped this one with Let It Die, a game that I got really sick of after only a few hours of playing it. Fortunately I hadn’t earned any trophies in it by the time I decided to stop playing, so I was able to delete the trophy list and move on without too much regret. It’s a good thing too, given that Let It Die’s┬ásuper grindy trophy list could quickly turn it into the “Time Requirement Not Worth It” category, so this isn’t a loss I mourn too much.

Real Life

Growing up sucks. There’s all sorts of real life things to worry about, like taking care of your yard before you get notices from the city again, and emptying your cats’ litterboxes daily. Add in family if you’ve got parental or spousal obligations, going to work, maintaining real life relationships with people around you — all of these things create a cocktail of non-gaming time that isn’t conducive to one of our favorite pastimes: Earning trophies. Sometimes it’s these real life obligations that make us need to look at a trophy and say that it’s just not worth the time or energy to go for it. After all, if you’re late to work again, you might not have a job to earn money to pay for games to earn trophies in anyway.

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What…? Isn’t this representative of everyone’s real life?

The Dreaded Backlog

I’m fairly certain that gaming backlogs could work their way into every list ever in some way. Moving on from one game to another is plenty of reason to accept defeat on trophy lists from games of old. At one point, I was proud to have gotten Platinums from every Assassin’s Creed game until I never bothered to pick up Assassin’s Creed Rogue on PS3 after the PS4 was out. It was a tough streak to admit defeat on, but I had to accept that my gaming backlog was just growing far too much to allow for me to go back and get that game. At one point, I had full intention of getting it, but the further and further it slipped away, the more okay my mind got with not having to worry about maintaining that streak anymore.

This is especially bad working in video game journalism where I am moving from one game to the next rapidly, either for review or just to make sure that I’ve got some experience with the latest and greatest things. While my good intentions say that I’ll go back and finish up trophy lists, reality bites me in the ass and says that there are some trophy lists I’ll just never complete.

Finding That Game that Keeps You

We’ll be talking about this one more in a future Trophy Theory, but sometimes you may find a game that keeps you from playing other games because you find yourself too addicted to going back and playing that one game over and over, spending so much time with it that it could almost be considered a second job. For the last two and a half years, this has been Destiny for me. While I’ve had the Platinum for ages, I continue to pour my time into Destiny, rounding on 1200 hours in game now. That’s a good 1000 hours that could have been put into earning trophies in literally any other games, but I just can’t stop going back to play Destiny, spitting in the face of my many incomplete trophy lists as I do.

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Obviously these categories can overlap with each other quite a bit, but the fact is that there are many obstacles in the way of 100% trophy lists, so learning to let go is a fundamental skill for any true trophy hunter. We often end up learning more from the loss than you could ever hope to learn from the thousands of trophies that you did earn. I know that some of the trophies I’ve never gotten stick in my memory much more than the ones that ended up giving me that sweet ding, a certain sense of freedom enveloping me when I am no longer constrained by trophy requirements that once plagued my time and energy.

Was there a particular game or trophy that taught you to accept trophy defeat? Was it your choice to abandon the pursuit, or did extenuating circumstances necessitate letting go? Let your thoughts be heard in the comments below.


A future Trophy Theory will be talking about the games that keep you playing in spite of trophies, whether you aren’t even interested in going for them while you play the game a lot, or you keep playing the game far beyond earning the Platinum trophy. I want to know which games attract trophy hunters beyond the trophies and can keep you playing. Reach out to me at the contact information below and you may see your submission in a future Trophy Theory.

I want Trophy Theory to be a conversation. This shouldn’t be me talking at you. It should be a discussion about trophies and everything that comes with it. I want your suggestions for what you want to talk about or see on Trophy Theory. Have a question for the Trophy community that you want to discuss? Throw your ideas into the comments below, email me, or tweet me. You may see your suggestion tailored into a future Trophy Theory.