Big Pic­ture Mode

What did Xbox Achieve­ments Achieve­men s ever do for Nathan Brown?

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy edi­tor – just one more pro­mo­tion and he will have un­locked the Plat­inum

So long, Xbox 360. Mi­crosoft’s de­ci­sion to cease pro­duc­tion, just shy of ten-and-a-half years since the con­sole’s launch, may mean it is now of­fi­cially dead, but to most it died a long time ago, con­signed to the at­tic or back bed­room to be re­placed by new hard­ware. In­deed, it died an aw­ful lot while it was still alive, thanks to the red ring of death and other as­sorted po­ten­tial points of hard­ware fail­ure. Even those that sur­vived gave the im­pres­sion they were go­ing to keel over any sec­ond. I once brought my 2006-era Pre­mium con­sole into the open­plan floor Edge shares with Future’s other gam­ing ti­tles; some­one from an­other mag based right across the of­fice walked past my desk and said, “Oh, that’s what that noise is”.

Still, 360’s le­gacy goes far be­yond the al­most-funny anec­dote every owner has about the time theirs went, or nearly went, tits-up. Much of the con­sole’s trans­for­ma­tive im­pact on both games and the tech world in gen­eral was quickly cov­ered to death and back by the on­line press af­ter Mi­crosoft an­nounced it was ceas­ing pro­duc­tion, so I’ll re­frain from go­ing over old ground. In­stead, let me just say that I hate Achieve­ments and wish they had never hap­pened. When they in­vent time travel and the death squad is as­sem­bled, I’ll be the one sug­gest­ing we leave the ob­vi­ous can­di­dates alone and in­stead go get the jeans-and-blazer-wear­ing Red­mond tosspot that came up with Achieve­ments. We can go back for Hitler, Trump and the guy that in­vented Auto-Tune later on.

I do, in fair­ness, quite like the idea. When used well, Achieve­ments can show you a dif­fer­ent way to play the game, as with Geom­e­try Wars’ Paci­fism chal­lenge, or Red

Dead Re­demp­tion’s Hit The Trail. But 99 per cent of the time Achieve­ments fall into one of two cat­e­gories: an ar­bi­trary mea­sure of ba­sic progress through the game, or an in­sis­tence that you end­lessly grind away at a sin­gle ac­tiv­ity, com­monly in a game’s mul­ti­player com­po­nent, for dozens of hours un­til you reach an ar­bi­trary tar­get.

Both of those, to me, are point­less, but clearly some play­ers love them. A friend took such plea­sure in the hunt to get Su­per Street

Fighter IV’s en­tire ros­ter to rank C that he de­cided he’d get them all to B rank. That meant achiev­ing around 100 wins with every char­ac­ter, a process that took three years and eight months. He even came up with a name for it. The Achieve­ment that set him off was called C To Shin­ing C; he dubbed its home­brew se­quel Cov­ered In Bs. Lovely stuff.

In that con­text, lengthy, mul­ti­player-fo­cused Achieve­ments can work won­der­fully well. My friend was go­ing to play the game for 2,000 hours any­way, so he might as well have some­thing to work to­wards.

The cur­rent state of Street Fighter V, how­ever, is the opposite. SFV has a prob­lem with rage-quit­ters, and peo­ple have been rightly quick to crit­i­cise Cap­com for not launch­ing the game with a mea­sure to pun­ish play­ers who high­tail it as the killing blow con­nects with their stupid, cow­ardly shins. Yet the pub­lisher has en­cour­aged rage-quits through de­sign – one Tro­phy re­quires that you win three matches in a row; an­other that you reach the Sil­ver di­vi­sion; and an­other that you se­cure pro­mo­tion to Gold. That means amass­ing 4,000 League Points, and the max­i­mum re­ward for a win is 65LP. But in SFV, un­like its pre­de­ces­sor, you’re docked points when you lose: up to 100, de­pend­ing on your op­po­nent’s rank. So the Tro­phy hunters take wins and quit out of losses, los­ing even more as they rise up the ranks and come up against pro­gres­sively more skil­ful play­ers they haven’t earnt the right to face as they con­tinue their point­less march to­wards a prize they don’t de­serve.

Stuff that, ob­vi­ously. While the con­cept of gam­i­fi­ca­tion pre­dates the Achieve­ment – painstak­ing re­search (Wikipedia) tells me the term was first coined in 2002, three years be­fore 360 launched – Mi­crosoft’s con­sole was an early pi­o­neer. The vol­ume of Strava and Fit­bit posts on my Face­book feed sug­gests that gam­i­fi­ca­tion has had a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on peo­ple’s lives. But on games? They’re a pat on the back for reach­ing a check­point we didn’t know was there. A gold star for beat­ing a boss we had to beat any­way. Or, at their worst, a weeks-long grind for some point­less ruf­fle of the hair that in­volves spoil­ing things for ev­ery­one else. Don’t get me wrong: I’m right there with the rest of you, rais­ing a glass in mem­ory of a beloved con­sole. But there’s a small part of me that also fan­cies piss­ing on its corpse. There’s a Tro­phy for that, I think.

I’ll re­frain from go­ing over old ground. Let me just say that I hate Achieve­ments and wish they had never hap­pened

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