Today I came across an interesting article at Gaming Today discussing a study by Electronic Entertainment Design and Research.
The study concluded that games with a high number of varied achievements generally received better review scores and sales compared to those with limited, straight-forward, or secret achievements.
“Consumers want their games to include both variety and abundance of Accomplishments,” said Geoffrey Zatkin, COO, EEDAR. “Our research shows that incentives such as Accomplishments impact sales choices such as which game title to buy and which platform to buy it on; they also extend the replayability of a title.”
Before I went online with my Xbox 360 I had no real interest in my gamerscore. Once I signed up to Xbox Live and connected up with my friends though, that all changed.
Must… Find… Last… Halo Skull!!!!
The Xbox 360 achievement system is a huge success. Whilst your gamerscore holds no real value (you can’t purchase downloads with it), the competitiveness between you and your friends to get the highest score possible is insane. You may not feel it at first, but it doesn’t take long before you are searching that level “one last time” to find the hidden bonus to unlock a further 10 achievement points.
The positive side to all of this is that it gives you that extra incentive to get the most out of your games: beating the game under a set time, collecting 1000000 coins, finding every last collectable, unlocking each secret character, and finishing that final level that’s had you pulling out your hair for the last 3 days!
Not only do you get added replay value from your games, but developers also get to enjoy the fact that gamers are less likely to miss out on added details that lay beyond the pre-defined path. It gives you more of a reason to explore and enjoy/see everything that was originally intended.
“You Completed Level 1 on Easy – Award: 400G”
The negative side though is that a lot of crap games are receiving HUGE sales just by throwing in some easily obtainable achievement points. This encourages a lack of effort and “safety-net achievement cramming”.
Games like most movie tie-ins were previously left to gather dust on shelves before being purchased by elderly relatives trying to do good, or moved to the bargain-bin. Now they enjoy the warmth of the Xbox 360 interior whilst great games like “The Darkness” are left out in the cold.
So what can we do? People love points! They are obsessed. I’m obsessed! Even I fell victim to the gamerscore bug and rented out the TMNT game (although that was fairly enjoyable. Not excellent, but not a chore either).
What do you think should be done?
- Should Microsoft set standards for achievements?
- Should there be an achievement testing and acceptance stage before a game is released?
- What about children and gaming? Surely achievements can’t be modified as it may exclude them
- Should they just be left alone as they are?
I am keen to hear everyones views on this.