Since the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005, achievements have been a core part of modern gaming. These days, achievements are found across Xbox, PC and PlayStation; sometimes they’re even built into games. However, Mirror’s Edge designer Fredrik Thylander believes they may have ruined gaming.
Since their introduction into gaming, Xbox’s achievements system has become synonymous with gaming. The system not only kept gamers hooked on Xbox games, but even inspired massive internet icons such as Achievement Hunter.
Nevertheless, Thylander believes that the game mechanic has only harmed gaming. As developers need to include achievements to launch on consoles, certain aspects of design end up being tailored towards the checklist system.
“Unpopular opinion: achievements/trophies have been bad for gaming,” the game designer said. “It narrows games down, it disrupts and diverts attention, and it eats resources that could have made the game better.”
“I just think games should have the reward mechanisms most suited for them, and the one-size-fits-all mandate from platform holders to make reward systems that benefit the platform makes games worse,” he concluded.
Followers of the designer piped up to argue about their love of achievements. One commenter even explained that the fantastic roguelite Vampire Survivors ties its achievements to progression, which Thylander states can be done “exactly the same without first party achievements”.
Nevertheless, the game designer has taken pride in his achievements designs before. Thylander worked on the achievements for Mirror’s Edge which incentivised players to spend hours-upon-hours in the Time Trial mode.
No matter your opinion on achievements, there is no doubt that developers are now forced into including them. For small teams, resources put towards achievements could be well-spent elsewhere. Furthermore, games will now also have to account for the mechanic in their design, that much is undeniable.
Achievements don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. While Nintendo is still yet to introduce an official system for the game mechanic, every other platform is actively supporting the digital collectibles.