The Intangible Reward Paradox

What’s good, everyone? It’s your semi-friendly, neighborhood Joshua Evo here and I’d like to discuss something that recently occurred that caught my attention, while getting some of your opinions on the matter. Not too long ago, PS3 favorite Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots recieved a patch that added the now-standard Playstation Network Trophies to the game. While the unlock conditions can be a bit on the crazy side, it was enough to get me to re-visit the game, get the patch downloaded and play through it again (as it was stated that prior save files could not unlock trophies) to unlock what I could. The update definitely appealed to my inner “Trophy/Achievement mongering ways” and it definitely delivered on that promise but the question that I was left with after all was said and done was “Did this really do anything significant to change the experience?”

I hope you’ve got more than just your looks, babe.

As you all well know, the Playstation 3 and Playstation Network has been around for a good while now but the exclusion of an achievement system was something that baffled a lot of players. In 2008, Sony introduced their take on the achievement tracking system, called “Trophies”.  As with the Xbox 360, players unlocked various Trophies by fulfilling any number of in-game objectives. Rather than numerical scores however, Trophies are identified by Bronze, Silver and Gold designations and are usually given these values based on their difficulty to unlock in-game. Unlocking EVERY Trophy available awards a Platinum Trophy, which is the obviously the last and most rewarding and time-consuming of the Trophies. Additionally, each player has an overall Trophy Level that increases whenever more Trophies are acquired, which is similar in nature to the total Gamerscore stat on the Xbox 360. The fact that I’m a Pokemon gamer should speak volumes about my propensity to collect things, so Trophy gathering became one of the things that I found myself actively doing during my routine gaming. After a long span of time where I was “Trophy Whoring” (that is, playing easy level games for no reason other than the Trophies), it became pretty apparent to me that I wasn’t really getting anything out of it all other than the Trophy count which, at the end of the day, is pretty meaningless.

There are a NUMBER of very high-profile titles that do not have Trophies and are very good games. Games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Devil May Cry4, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Assassin’s Creed, Valkyria Chronicles and The Orange Box come to mind. Until recently, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was on that list but as you all know, recent version update patched Trophy support into the game. Upon hearing this, I decided to fire it up again, go for these Trophies and I DID unlock several of them during my play through. When all was said and done though, it was the same Metal Gear Solid game, except that I had a few more things to show for it. Now, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a fairly lengthy game, so playing through it simply for the Trophies is kind of a big task but it ended up being enough for me to go back through and play it. Of course, that may also have been because of the games Pre-Trophy support that I listed, Metal Gear Solid 4 I still currently own. So it got me thinking,  if say, Devil May Cry 4, received a Trophy patch, would that be enough of a reason to go out and buy the game again? I mean, it’s an older game, so it’s going to be a little on the cheaper side and I certainly did enjoy the game so on paper, it doesn’t seem like too much of a bad idea but again, it’s money I have to spend to buy a game JUST for some Trophies. Also, I’m quite aware that I could borrow the game from a friend who still had it or even use a service like GameFly to simply check the game out long enough to obtain Trophies/Achievements and then return it when you’re done with it (which by the way, is how I managed to get a Platinum Trophy on Trivial Pursuit of all things) but most die-hard collectors and gamers that I know (including our resident Megan Highwind) prefer to build their collections and actually own their games just as a matter of personal preference.

To me, patching in Trophy support isn’t  really a motivator to go back and play or track down my older games. Especially since like most gamers, I suffer from a HUGE gaming backlog brought on by a combination of Video Game ADD and massive influxes of interesting titles coming out in rapid succession. Aside from a brief period in 2010, I don’t traditionally play video games solely for the Trophies and Achievements. I play them for all the usual reasons like game play, graphics, sound and following a story. While I will maintain that I do enjoy a lot of those aforementioned titles, which in my opinion are some of the best games on the console even NOW, I have to say that my attention will usually remain on newer games and working down my backlog. That’s how I feel on the matter though and I’m interested in what you all think on the Trophy updates. Would you pick up an older game if it meant more Trophies for you or would it be of little consequence? Let us know in the comments below.

— Evo out.


One thought on “The Intangible Reward Paradox

  1. Trophy/Achievement hunting is a problem I have been struggling with over the last year. I noticed that the urge to get more was ruining my game experience. I found myself chugging through games not really enjoying myself, just to get a digital reward that I can’t use for anything. Even though I fully realize this I find it hard to stop. I’m also on a website called which made this problem worse when I saw they actually track the percentage of achievements you have for all your games. So, I became obsessed with getting a better percentage. Which kept me from starting other games for fear of lowering my percentage as soon as I pop the disc in the tray. I really miss the days of just playing a game for the sake of playing the game, because a majority of these trophies/achievements have turned gaming into another job.


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