Easter eggs like this can be a lot of fun, but many are so obscure you’ll never find them in a normal game. I played Hitman 2 to death and I never realized that you can summon a Kraken on the Sapienza map.
Gamification and rivalries
Leaderboards and the pursuit of high scores have always been a part of the game, but trophies and achievements as we know them today started with Microsoft’s Gamerscore system for the Xbox 360 in 2005. This was extended to games. for Windows in 2007, the same year Valve added achievements in Steam. The following year, Sony jumped on board with the PlayStation trophies, and a few years later, Apple and Google added achievements to their respective mobile game services. Nintendo is the only major gaming platform that doesn’t have an achievement system.
Trophies often extend the life of a game, encouraging players to look beyond the main story, but ultimately they are arbitrary challenges for bragging rights. And trophy hunters can get lost in the chase. Better known by his PlayStation Network pseudonym Hakoom, Hakam Karim has been the world leader in the PlayStation Trophy Collection for a few years now. He has 105,828 trophies at last count, according to PSN Profiles, the most popular unofficial ranking.
“I spend around 10 to 15 hours a day playing and unlocking trophies,” explains Karim. “Let’s say about 90 hours a week or so. “
While there are players with a higher overall trophy count, Karim’s lead is largely based on platinum trophies (he has 3,188 at the time of writing). To win a Platinum trophy, you must unlock all the other trophies in the game. The trophies are assigned different scores according to their level of difficulty: 15 points for a bronze, 30 for silver, 90 for gold and 300 for platinum (instead of 180 by Sony last year).
Sony does not maintain an official ranking, and there is debate in the trophy hunter community as to who should be the best. PSN Trophy Officers, for example, lists Roughdawg4 (who prefers not to share his real name) as the current leader with 110,631 trophies and 3,360 Platinum trophies. He hunts for trophies about 20 to 40 hours per week.
“I got hooked very early on in the PS3 era,” says Roughdawg4. “I’ve always been an accomplished player, so winning trophies and doing all you can in a game came naturally to me. He withdrew from PSN Profiles after a disagreement with the owner. “Personally, I think he made unethical decisions about how the site is run,” he says, before claiming that Karim has hacked some trophies.
When browsing the forums on trophy hunting sites, these kinds of complaints are common. People are accused of hacking trophies or working as a team under one account, but these claims are difficult to prove.
The endless grind
Just as there are many highly sought after trophies, the vast majority haven’t given them much thought.
“It’s all about unrealistic goals, at both ends of the scale,” says Webb. “Any achievement or trophy that appears when you start a game is a waste of oxygen. Then there are the achievements that you get from dying a number of times – how is that even fun or an accomplishment? “
There are also virtually impossible achievements, such as completing a game multiple times, reaching number one in the world leaderboard, or reaching an unreachable level of play.
“We want players to feel accomplished when they complete difficult trophies, so we try to avoid repetitive or tedious tasks because the only thing players feel after completing them is a sense of relief,” said Timmins. “Creating a difficult but engaging trophy is not easy.”