Microsoft were ahead of the game in many respects when they entered into the last generation of gaming with the Xbox 360. Among features like cross-game chat and other online features, one of the most successful ideas that Microsoft innovated was the system of ‘Achievements’. The system was instantly popular and so successful that Sony copied the idea off Microsoft and created it’s own Trophy System. Unfortunately, unlike the Xbox 360, which had the Achievements system in place on the console from day one, Sony’s tacked on approach meant that the system left a lot to be desired when it came to stability and response times. However, with Sony now entering the new generation and with Trophies being integrated from day one on the PlayStation 4, it seems Sony have swept the rug under Microsoft and beaten them at their own game.
Whilst the premise of both systems is essentially the same, one is more effective than the other in terms of relaying a sense of achievement. Ironically, that system is the PlayStation’s Trophy system. You see, the Achievement system on the Xbox 360 and Xbox one does its job; you have a challenge, you complete it and you get certain points. You can compare them with friends and you have an overall Gamerscore that adds up all your achievements up.
Even though I primarily enjoyed my games on the Xbox 360, I never once cared about Achievements. With the PlayStation 4, I was hooked on day one
However, the Trophy system on the PlayStation 4 takes things one step further. There are three main types of trophies, bronze silver and gold, with silver and gold trophies reserved for the more difficult challenges in the game. Furthermore, the rarity of each trophy is assessed against all other PSN players. You really do feel like you are part of an exclusive club when you are the 2% of all PSN users to achieve a certain Trophy. This mechanic alone elevates the Trophy system above the Xbox’s Achievement system. This is what the Achievement system set out to do all those years ago; give you those bragging rights and instill that sense of accomplishment. However, even though I primarily enjoyed my games on the Xbox 360, I never once cared about Achievements. With the PlayStation 4, I was hooked on day one.
Microsoft have diluted the sense of accomplishment with Achievements.
The way trophies are split in terms of difficulty also make it easier to compare them with other users. Furthermore, once you have acquired all trophies in a game, you are awarded with a Platinum trophy and having earned my first ever one on Resogun, I was genuinely delighted. Multiple friends noticed that I achieved the Platinum trophy and messaged me to congratulate me or enquired about how I went about getting one. NEVER has anything of the sort happened on the Xbox 360 in the 7+ years that I have played on the system. The only time I ever completed all achievements on the Xbox 360 was on Halo 3 and that was in order to get a certain armour set for my Spartan; it had nothing to do with the achievement system itself. Microsoft have really diluted the sense of accomplishment with Achievements. You now get awarded achievements for watching movies on apps or using certain functions on the Xbox One. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was an achievement for winking at the Kinect whilst balancing a bowl of cereal on your head.
As it stands, the Trophy system simply has more going for it. We don’t know how Microsoft will bring back the appeal of Achievements but right now, Sony simply have the better system in place.