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Should Wii U have had an achievements system?

Marc Zablotny explores the positives and negatives of achievements

With the launch date getting excitingly close, the Wii U is in the gaming media's spotlight across the globe. It's Nintendo's most powerful console to date, with enough oomph to rival its current competitors, the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It combines the touch screen gaming synonymous with the DS handhelds with the motion control capabilities of the Wii and mixes the result with High Definition goodness. Add it to your Christmas wish list if it isn't already there, because this is only a fraction of what the console has to offer.

However, if you've been keeping up with the gaming news recently it has become clear that the Wii U lacks a certain feature - a universal/console-wide achievement system.

It's a little surprising because, whether you like it or not, achievements have really come to be one of the defining features of the latest generation of gaming.

Achievements - the lowdown

Achievements (known as Trophies on Sony consoles) are essentially small rewards for completing certain tasks in a game in the form of points or a trophy. The most common types of achievements are rather menial and the sort of stuff you'd complete during the natural progression of a game, like "Finish level 1", while others, at the behest of a particularly imaginative development team, can be a lot more creative, requiring significant effort or thinking outside the box.

Achievements differ from traditional unlockables in that they don't tend affect the game directly, rather, the points or trophies you earn are linked to your profile or account and build up across all the games you play.

Achievements are seen by most as a gift to gaming for a variety of reasons. One of their main plus points is that they have the potential to extend a game's longevity significantly.

Back in the day, once you completed the main story of a traditional single-player game you had little reason to go back to it other than perhaps your own personal enjoyment. Now, developers can use achievements as added incentives for you to play their game again and again.

Complete the game! Complete the game without dying! Complete the game on hard! Complete the game on hard without dying! Complete the game... IN SPANISH! Complete the game on hard without dying while moving backwards...IN SPANISH! Note: I may have used some artistic license on a couple of them, but you get the idea.

Achievements - The Good

That Half Life gnome
That Half Life gnome

Admittedly, I've made it appear that achievements used to lengthen the game are rather superficial, but you have to remember that this is by no means always the case. Some developers are genuinely clever in the way they use achievements to keep you playing and for the most part, it's something to be thankful for.

You see, every once in a while something wonderful happens: a creative achievement descends from the heavens majestically to restore all that is good in the world.

To use one particularly famous example, an achievement in Half Life 2: Episode 2 requires you to pick up a small garden gnome ornament found in the first chapter of the game, and carry it with you for pretty much the next five or six hours of gameplay, before sticking it in a space rocket in the very last chapter. Never in a million years would it have naturally occurred to me to do such a thing. It's wonderfully bizarre and fun to attempt. It would be truly wonderful to be given these types of opportunities in our favourite Nintendo titles.

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  1. K-tet Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 13:07

    Should Nintendo implement a universal achievement system for the Wii U? No. Both Nintendo and Third-Party games for Wii U could (and perhaps should) indeed have their own individual achievement system (if you want to call it that) within themselves, but only at the discretion of the developers should they want to add challenges to keep the achievement connoisseur content.

    I can see an achievement system integrate well with Miiverse, but I think we all take the achievements system for granted and wonder why Nintendo are the only company doing things differently. I could be wrong, but I don't think the PC has a universal achievement system, just games that have their own individual achievement systems within them.

    The moral of the story is 'observe the masses and do the opposite'.

  2. Wackiest Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 14:02

    Yes.

    They might as well. If people want to collect them they can, if they don't they can ignore them.
    As long as they remain unobtrusive then it's all gravy, and everyone will be happy.

  3. samus_killer Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 14:13

    Yes, they should.

    I know Zabba lightly touched on it, but incorporating trophies/achievements into all their old classics would get me and a million others to re-download them on eshop.

    I would be a sucker for it. I'd re-download all the classics like Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time and Super Metroid again, just to get a bunch of achievements.

    It would also give me an incentive to go back and complete older gems like Super Mario RPG. Yes I'm that shallow, but so are so many others. Seriously, Nintendo like money, and people spend a lot of money on older games they've already played, just to play through it again in HD with a trophy support.

  4. King Slazo Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 14:26

    Yes, they should, because as stated above, it makes good business sense. When your big anti-achievement argument is that people might just play games for them... well, who cares. They still bought the game, maybe more of them because of said achievements, so if that's what they want from a game, so be it.

    Plus every other major platform now has them. Microsoft, Sony and Steam all utilise achievements, there's no reason for Nintendo to lag behind in that regard.

  5. 5OUNDWAVE Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 14:33

    that's why i loved the wii so much trophy free gaming so no

  6. AiDeNintendude Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 14:36

    Yes, the positives of them outweigh the negatives.
    However, I think that Nintendo should limit their achievement system and force developers to come up with things that actually make the player feel like they've achieved something. In other words, I think that they should be few and far between and they should be smart and require some effort. Rather than gaining an achievement, for example, for finishing the first level or simply finishing the game on easy mode... Seeing "Well done, you just stomped on 10 goombas without touching the ground!" would make my day!

  7. 5OUNDWAVE Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 14:54

    also if u play a bad game it's stuck on your profile for good (ps3) so if ur a trophy hunter then ur going to have to play that game or else format and wipe it clean and lose every thing

  8. mooksam22 Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 15:55

    Achievements were one of Microsoft's masterstrokes this generation. I don't care that much about getting every last one in every game I play, but there can be satisfaction in obtaining them, especially when they are interesting or difficult. It's just a little something to show "hey, I did this", and sometimes it's nice. Like the article points out, an imaginative developer can put ones in that enhance the game by getting you to do things you normally wouldn't think of doing. The Orange Box has some of the best achievements in any game I've ever played and I actively went after them because they were fun.

    Achievements can have a downside, however. The absolute worst are multiplayer achievements. In many games there are people that will only play to get these, which ruins the multiplayer experience. They're non-sporting and go against the spirit of the game.

    Are Nintendo right or wrong? I think they probably should have some form of standardised achievement system, especially seeing how well it could be incorporated into the miiverse idea, but at the same time I can appreciate that they want to maintain a pure gaming experience. One downside is that multi platform games will have them on rival systems and I know that some gamers would rather buy those because they have achievements/trophies. Either way, it's not really going to affect my enjoyment of games like Metroid or Zelda that I want a Wii U for.

  9. lrwr14 Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 16:03

    I'm glad they haven't.
    Achievements take away certain things from a game. For example, if an achievement asked you to find a certain location, which is optional , people would go looking for that place just for an achievement. However, by not telling the player about this location (through achievements) they'll be more surprised and interested when they discover it by themselves.
    Achievements can motivate people to play on and discover new things but at the same time it feels like a check list of things to do, which in turn also feels as if they are directing me to play on just to get an achievement- I would rather discover them on my own.

  10. Donkey Kong Jr. Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 16:17

    yes, they absolutely should.

  11. LewiiG Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 16:31

    Without reading the article, I say yes it should have.
    I like them because they give you a sense of how much of the game have you really completed. Achievements are usually the "extra" kind of things that you wouldn't have thought of doing. It extends the game a little to significantly sometimes. I just like the idea of all the games you have played coming together to form a number which can easily describe what kind of gamer you are. It's a real sense of "achievement". Unfourtunately for the Wii U that means I would be getting an Xbox 360 version over a Wii U port. Unless the Wii U port has some other defining feature (TTT2 for example!).
    Don't get me wrong, I know achievements aren't the be all and end all. After all, Nintendo have never had this sort of system, yet they are still the best developers. I just prefer acheivements to no achievements. I also disagree with Miyamoto san's "dangling a carrot" view of achievements. After all, you don't have to go for the carrots, and what if going for the carrots are fun anyway? (They usually are).

  12. spacemen13 Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 16:39

    Hell yeah!

  13. goldbricks Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 16:48

    Great article. I love achievements and trophies. They add something extra to the game. Don't great me wrong, I can play games without them, but there's something so satisfying when it "pings" up on screen after doing something difficult/ amazing/ stupid. They should be universal across the Wii U and I think Nintendo should patch it in, on an new update sometime. However if it isn't there, its not going to put me off buying the console and playing all the games I can afford for it.

  14. herbie262 Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 16:58

    Yes, yes, yes!
    Achievements would be great!
    I would like everyone's Mii's to have an (optional) attached profile, with information about the games they play. These profiles could have the points on them!

  15. Nath Ward Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 17:08

    Yes it definitely should have had an event system because it allows users to compete with friends and just generally compete in general with anyone!!

  16. Zing06 Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 18:10

    also if u play a bad game it's stuck on your profile for good (ps3) so if ur a trophy hunter then ur going to have to play that game or else format and wipe it clean and lose every thing

    if you're a "trophy hunter" then you won't care what games you play, and even if you aren't having a bad game on you're profile with no or very few achievements on it will show that you don't like it.

  17. thenintendoer Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 18:37

    yes defintatley it gives my an incentive to play games right to the end rather than just comlpeting them and their compleetely optional so they dont get in the way (you dont even have to look at them if you dont want to)

  18. The 3DS Formula Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 19:00

    Frankly, if Nintendo don't give us an acheivement system, I'll stick to 3DS and Wii and ignore Wii U. I've had enough of Nintendo attempting to go one up on Microsoft and Sony, and falling flat on their faces when they miss out on important features. If this happens, it's time to man up and start following suit. You could argue that Wii has sold more than PS3 and nearly twice the amount of Xbox 360s, but overall, you hear "Just going to play on Xbox/PS3." more than "I'm playing on Wii!". Take a wild guess why - Yep, Nintendo = Casual, oh so casual, and Microsoft/Sony = Hardcore and Casual mix. Nintendo: No more Nintendo Land, release something more hardcore than Metroid. What the heck, why not go back to the NES days of hardcoreness?

    I rest my case.

  19. Tailsdreggman Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 19:29

    I'm glad they haven't.
    Achievements take away certain things from a game. For example, if an achievement asked you to find a certain location, which is optional , people would go looking for that place just for an achievement. However, by not telling the player about this location (through achievements) they'll be more surprised and interested when they discover it by themselves.


    I believe the Xbox360 system solves this problem by having 'secret' or 'locked' achievements - Not telling you HOW to get the achievement, just that there is one. Not all developers use it, but it's there. PS3..? Don't know. Haven't got one.

    On the subject, I agree with previous statements that they should be included, but not shoe-horned, and not included in multiplayer. I'm a big TF2 player, but if a Heavy is spamming the minigun in your spawn room, you can bet your bottom dollar he's after the 'Heavy Industry' achievement. It, simply put, makes you a man down, and then you're probably going to suffer.
    Achievements are fun. They encourage you to do things perhaps you normally wouldn't, to explore both playstyle and the game world itself. I'd be more impressed if they had a use other than gloating, however. (Looking at you, Microsoft.), Again, TF2 incrementally gives you unique weapons for completing the achievements.

    And The3DSFormula, *cough*Zombiu*cough*. Yeah, not Nintendo, but Nintendo-exclusive is good enough. And, as a law student, I'd like to point out posting a rebuttal after saying 'I rest my case' will land you in contempt of court. The court of OMN, very harsh.

  20. declan.west Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 19:41

    I think an achievement system should be in the WiiU but can be turned on and off because some people might get carried away from the experience of the game and spend hours on end trying to accomplish 1 achievement and lose interest in the game after actually completing it. Although it could be used to gain mii customisation items like streetpass quest.

  21. Argenthor Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 19:59

    Should Nintendo implement a universal achievement system for the Wii U? No. Both Nintendo and Third-Party games for Wii U could (and perhaps should) indeed have their own individual achievement system (if you want to call it that) within themselves, but only at the discretion of the developers should they want to add challenges to keep the achievement connoisseur content.

    I can see an achievement system integrate well with Miiverse, but I think we all take the achievements system for granted and wonder why Nintendo are the only company doing things differently. I could be wrong, but I don't think the PC has a universal achievement system, just games that have their own individual achievement systems within them.

    The moral of the story is 'observe the masses and do the opposite'.


    Steam has achievements for each game, but it is presented in a universal way through steam (just with no cumulative total) and pretty much all games that come out use it

  22. barrybarryk Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 20:01

    Swinging third party developer support is hard enough for Nintendo, forcing devs to implement a system wide achievement system into every game won't help

  23. Alaxtis Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 20:41

    Yes.
    Simple as.

  24. Mmmyeah Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 21:16

    One of the reasons I love Nintendo so much is how they value great gaming experiences above all else. They don't concentrate on creating medial tasks with pointless rewards to make you play a game, they make fantastic games that you want to play because you enjoy them. I don't think Nintendo should include an achievements system, it will help Nintendo's special way of doing things remain.

    Its things like this that make Nintendo different to the rest. They are purely about fun games, not passing the time.

  25. KairiZero Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 21:44

    Yes and no.

    Firstly, I think it gives a sense of progression in terms that you can aim towards certain goals, and some can involve mindless fun rather than ridiculously hard challenges. I think that multiplayer achievements are a sore point, as people will often play online just for those extra points/trophies, often exploiting cheap and unsportsmanlike tactics, which I think ruins the game for people who want to just play it and not worry about adding an extra centimetre to their e-manhood.

    If they were to add a system.....I don't think you should be able to check the list for them, I think they should just appear when you do something cool - a surprise, so that rather than thinking "Oh I need 40 headshots with this gun on this chapter" and playing with that sole purpose, it should just come up that you've managed to complete this task, and adds it to a book/list of things you've accomplished, such as a really cool shortcut, or finding a hidden location - even far out wacky and pointless things. I don't think they should accumulate as "points" either.....I had a very lame comment made to me once over xbox live when I exclaimed I had more achievements for a change than my friends brother on a certain game, only to hear this guy; a family man in his mid thirties, in all his glory exclaim "Well you've get the gamerscore of a little girl" - This is the sort of behaviour scoring "points" against each other has caused, where a fully grown man can go full peetard and sound like the biggest loser you've ever met, over a few stupid points in a video game.

    Reward accomplishments by all means, but try avoiding childish bragging rights, and you're onto a winner.

  26. 5OUNDWAVE Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 22:23

    also if u play a bad game it's stuck on your profile for good (ps3) so if ur a trophy hunter then ur going to have to play that game or else format and wipe it clean and lose every thing

    if you're a "trophy hunter" then you won't care what games you play, and even if you aren't having a bad game on you're profile with no or very few achievements on it will show that you don't like it.

    well put it this way i came home one day to find my brother playing cod on my ps3 instead of his own as mine was hooked up to the big tv , i'm not a cod fan so i had to format it

  27. madlink Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 23:10

    I still don't see the point to this. Should Nintendo do something because everyone else is? They never have! They may, as you say, implement one later on but if it has no direct effect on a game why add something for the sake of it. As to buying a game soley for achievement points, seems like an expensive thing to do. I've lost count of the number of times I've played "Twilight Princess" to completion. I've played "Orcarina of Time" on every format it's come out on, again numerous times, because I enjoy playing these games. I don't see the point in spending Ł40 on a game if you don't get any pleasure form playing it.

  28. KairiZero Tuesday 20th Nov 2012 at 23:19

    well put it this way i came home one day to find my brother playing cod on my ps3 instead of his own as mine was hooked up to the big tv , i'm not a cod fan so i had to format it

    I think thats a little overkill lmfao. I've never truly cared for the system really, I don't mind if somebody accidentally gets me a trophy/achievement - who cares, its only a video game! Its slightly different if they started playing my save on something and screwed it up, but i've got no issue with letting a friend sit down with me, and trying to crack a tough level, or have a go at the game just to try it out! I quite often sit with one of my friends at his and crank out sonic 2 on the live arcade, or sonic generations and take a "level and life" approach to it! I've got some pointless 5-10 point achievements from when guys have bought games over, But theres no way I would delete my gamer profile just because somebody unlocked a trophy or something on a game I'm unlikely to play - why be so conscious about it? Games are there for fun, not a status symbol :D

  29. Dan-the-Wii-man Wednesday 21st Nov 2012 at 18:24

    I think I'd prefer a universal system as its quite nice to be able to show off your score on Xbox Live. I could also imagine most developers just ignoring them all together.

  30. leftoverlunch Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 09:16

    NO!!!!

    Why they are worthless junk put into games at the time they took out unlock-able content and started charging you for it.

    I hate achievements trophy's what you killed 25000 zeds wooooo congrats here have some pointless points to add to all the others you have.... I would much rather when i completed a hidden "Challenge" that I unlocked more content in the game like it used to be not some <filthy> points that do nothing at all.

    How have people gotten addicted to gathering a collection of <trashy> games with easy achievements in them?

  31. King Slazo Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 09:35

    NO!!!!

    Why they are worthless junk put into games at the time they took out unlock-able content and started charging you for it.

    I hate achievements trophy's what you killed 25000 zeds wooooo congrats here have some pointless points to add to all the others you have.... I would much rather when i completed a hidden "Challenge" that I unlocked more content in the game like it used to be not some <deleted> points that do nothing at all.

    How have people gotten addicted to gathering a collection of <deleted> games with easy achievements in them?

    Don't swear.

    And no, adding achievements did not suddenly remove unlockable content from games. DLC and achievements are two completely seperate things.

    And people haven't. Sure, there are the odd few whom are "achievement whores", but for the majority of us, they're just extra challenges to clear or progress milestones so our friends can see how much of the game we've beaten at a glance.

  32. leftoverlunch Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 09:55

    "Press Start" that's an achievement.........Head shot 200 enemies that's an achievement.........Finish level 1...... That's so an achievement............Keep on playing for this achievement because the game play sure as hell aint good enough to do that....Should be every achievements description.

    Do you remember how much unlockable content those awesome games of yester year had? You know the hard games that were a challenge and when you did things that were hard you unlocked stuff you could play with not just look at?

  33. King Slazo Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 10:55

    You still haven't grasped the difference between DLC and achievements. Is there less unlockable content from the retail version of games nowadays? Arguably, yes. Is that because of achievements? No. Once again, achievements and DLC are different things, and DLC is irrelevant to this debate.

    And honestly? You appear to have a very backwards view of achievements. Sure, when they were first created, you had some developers who had no clue of what to do with them, but that was over seven years ago. Since then they've become adopted by multiple other platforms, like PSN, Steam and uPlay. They've challenged gamers to explore their games in new ways and complete insane stunts.

    You seem to be living in a make believe world where every game with achievements or trophies has them to cover up for poor gameplay. They don't. They're there to enhance the experience, and in that role, they do a damn good job. You think Mario or Zelda would be bad games with them? You think Mass Effect or Assassin's Creed would be all the better without them? Of course not.

    You don't care about them? Fine. I'm not saying you should. But thinking that they're bad and harmful to games? Sorry, but that's just idiocy.

  34. K-tet Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 14:11

    @leftoverlunch: Yes, games aren't made the same way as they were back in the days of yesteryear (I should know, I have over 20 years experience), but with business focus supporting franchises with DLC being in the forefront of certain companies, we've just got to accept it and get on with it. But yes, DLC and Achievements are two separate things entirely. DLC may contain Achievements inside them, but they aren't Achievements. Also learn to read, it'll get you far in life. The discussion is should Wii U have an achievement system. There are those for it and those against it, with plenty of good plausible reasons stating for or against. Your reasons are neither good nor plausible.

    Slazy's absolutely right. There are people that want to see at a glance what they've achieved whilst playing in-game, and this kind of stance would integrate perfectly with Miiverse. I'm not an Achievements junkie and I've already voiced my opinion: "observe the masses and do the opposite", but hell, even I know an Achievement-style system would benefit the Wii U, especially if Nintendo leaves it to the discretion of developers that wish to do it. Call them Kudos Points or something, you know, it will work. Also knowing what you've got to aim for is going to give you a greater impetus to see an objective through to the end.

  35. leftoverlunch Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 16:12

    So what does "10 achievement points" add to pressing start? What does it add to the game what does "50 achievement points" add to finishing a game on "hard"?

    I'm just saying in my mind they took away free unlock-able content and replaced it with worthless junk that adds nothing at all.

    King Kong achievement list http://www.xbox360achievements.org/game ... ievements/
    Yea that adds so much....
    Wait lets look at ACIII http://www.xbox360achievements.org/game ... ievements/

    Much better but still mostly boring grindy junk you wouldn't bother with unless it had some useless points attached. I find them to add nothing at all to game play ever. And yes I have saved that gnome I have even sent into outer space but alas I did it for the lol not some fail points. I would much rather of unlocked something i can play with than a picture and some points.

    I still don't see the point to this. Should Nintendo do something because everyone else is? They never have! They may, as you say, implement one later on but if it has no direct effect on a game why add something for the sake of it. As to buying a game soley for achievement points, seems like an expensive thing to do. I've lost count of the number of times I've played "Twilight Princess" to completion. I've played "Orcarina of Time" on every format it's come out on, again numerous times, because I enjoy playing these games. I don't see the point in spending Ł40 on a game if you don't get any pleasure form playing it.

    Many people do i know go look at king kong the worst of the worst games and yet it sells because only 2 hours gets you 1000 worthless points..... I have friends who used to buy the worst games because it was rated easy to get 1000 gamer score. Remember bigger numbers=better just like better graphics=better game.......

  36. K-tet Friday 23rd Nov 2012 at 18:49

    Bigger numbers doesn't mean the game is better, and if you are of an opinion where better graphics means a better game, I'll personally escort you to the door whence you entered, but I digress...

    Without going too far in-depth, there's having achievements, and there's doing it wrong. We're using 'achievement' as a blanket term. As you know, Sony's achievement system's called 'Trophies', but it's still an achievement system. Everyone will have their own opinions on the entire spectrum of games that utilise such a system. Some games will have questionable achievements, others will not, but you're missing the point. Just because you cite two 'questionable' sources doesn't mean the whole idea is bad. If anything, it shows that the developers have been a little lazy in implementing what you would term 'worthwhile achievements'. Nintendo have always been different, which has mostly served them to their credit (though at times to their detriment also). If they decide to unroll an achievement system, let them. It's up to the developers to decide on how to do it.

  37. leftoverlunch Saturday 24th Nov 2012 at 09:20

    An example of a game with free unlock-able content I think you would now get charged for.

    http://uk.faqs.ign.com/articles/517/517320p1.html

    Compared to http://www.xbox360achievements.org/game ... ievements/

  38. KairiZero Sunday 25th Nov 2012 at 13:28

    Having a higher score just means you're more of a completionist, or you've played more games. There are some easy accomplishments to obtain in games, but its down to developers how they're ultimately used. I still don't quite understand what DLC and achievements have in common though? They're two entirely different entities alltogether. If used in the right way, achievements can be acceptable, as I've mentioned earlier on in the thread, and as mentioned by Slazo they are cool if they actually show that you've done something insane in game!

  39. leftoverlunch Sunday 25th Nov 2012 at 15:58

    I used to be a "completionist" when it meant unlocking and playing all the content a game had to offer. I am not comparing DLC to Achievements i'm just saying when there were no achievements you used to unlock extra content in games now you unlock worthless points and pay for extra content....

    The reason i put time splitters 2 up there was to show how much stuff there was to unlock through challenges, new stuff to play not some junk points for doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over
    (ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED)
    ( Pointless repatriation 100 G)

    Any game dev that wants that junk in their game can put it in if they want to, I prefer it when a game puts a challenge in there and rewards with something i can use not pat me on the back and tell me i'm cool because I just pressed the start button.

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