RPS Asks: Steam Achievements?

By Alec Meer on September 14th, 2011 at 1:42 pm.

Look how well I did at something or other!

An open question for the floor: how much stock do you put in Steam’s achievements, now they’ve been around for a couple of years? I only ask because they’re cropping up in more and more games, yet yet they don’t seem to have hahahahaha achieved the same game-cultural significance as Xbox 360′s ones, where folk from all walks of life seem invested to the point of violence in their Gamerscores.

Steam’s don’t appear to go towards a global pool of gaming accomplishment in the same way, but instead appear to only reflect upon the specific game they’re from. But have they quietly managed to become of great, fervent import amongst the more dedicated PC gamers? Do you do a happy little clap when you earn one? Or are they entirely incidental to you? An annoyance, even?

They haven’t really clicked for me, I must admit – when a box pops up saying I’ve done such and such I don’t perceive it as having any impact on me, unless I’m fairly sure that it’s going to lead to something new activating in-game. But they’re increasingly prevalent (which I guess to some extent goes hand-in-hand with the proliferation of Steamworks), which would imply they’re doing something right.

So, thoughts? Do you even know how many of ‘em you’ve got? DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE RIGHT NOW?

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281 Comments »

  1. TotalBiscuit says:

    I could not give a toss, quite frankly. Utterly pointless wastes of time.

    • Nalano says:

      This.

      How much stock do I put in achievements? I don’t.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Agreed.

      I am completely indifferent.

      Yet….

      I have a friend, who is ..let say addictive type. Maybe even compulsive obsessive gamer.
      The guy literately played certain games over and over for hundreds of hours just to get some pointless achievement.

    • brkl says:

      Agreed. Just rubbish. They detract from the game.

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      You all say that now, but what if they rewarded achievements with trivial cosmetic TF2 items? You’ll all change your tunes then!

    • skinlo says:

      Wasting whos time? If you don’t like it, ignore it.

      Its not wasting the people who like its time.

    • Ovno says:

      Completely irrelevant to me, though they do sometimes show you how far from the end you are..

      I did however enjoy the names of some of the ones from Magicka, but that was more down to the comedy therein than the achievements themselves.

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      PoulWrist says:

      I care not at all. I might look at them if one pops up to see “why did it tell me that” and if there’s something that seems fun I might just do it for the hell of it. But I don’t play to get 100% achievements, or even play to get achievements at all.

    • westyfield says:

      Ovno has it right. The only good achievements are comedy achievements. The ones from TF2 and Magicka are often quite funny/punny, and a late-game achievement in Portal 2 (it has a spoilery name which I won’t say – you know the one I mean) made me guffaw heartily.
      If it’s a way to have a joke; fine. If not then it can shove right off.

    • NetsukeMonkey says:

      I have to say the only times I appreciate achievements are when there is an elememt of humour or good artwork but I never actually chase achievements anymore.

    • hotcod says:

      When done right they offer challenges to extend play in the game. I really don’t give a crap about ones that unlock as a course of normal game play. “oh you beat this part of the game, well done” “oh you killed his many bad guys, well done” can go jump off a bridge.

      Yet achievements that offer some extra “game” to the game? they can be good. The most basic ones are ones that unlock for finding a given number of things that you don’t have to other wise. Giving people a sign that they’ve found all the little secrets or collectables is a great way to reward people who enjoy that kind of game play.

      The best achievements however are the ones that require you do something crazy, an actual challenge that offers new value to a replay of the game. One I have in mind here is the gnome launch in Half Life Ep 2. That was a fantastic achievement that required you to carry a garden gnome through the majority of the game and so you could put it in a rocket and send it in to space. This was a very very hard thing to do and something most people wouldn’t have ever thought to try so to have the challenge laid out for you with a way to show that you had done it? Well it caused a lot of people to play the game in a way they ever would. There was much talk about it with videos and blogs and to get that achievement (which I never did) must have been a really satisfying thing.

      http://www.pentadact.com/index.php/2007-10-15-gnome-quest

      So to out right dismiss achievement because they don’t link in to a meta game or because they are mostly little thought out rubbish is silly. Achievements are just tools and those tools can be either used well or badly… for the most part it’s badly but they are easy enough to ignore if that’s the case… but just one good achievement in a game can add huge value.

    • pepper says:

      Dont care for them. But some do give me a giggle when the message pops up.

    • sd4f says:

      I would prefer they weren’t there, or could be silenced, the only times i’ve pursued achievements is when you get an unlock like in the DoWII last stand, you get wargear for doing some achievements.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Never gave a damn about achievements, unless;

      a.) They grant some kind of reward for completing them (which essentially makes them ‘quests’)

      -or-

      b.) I’m that invested in a particular game that they add an extra challenge to aim for.

    • Burning Man says:

      Pointless? Really? Yet, if you care about them, they provide you with happiness and a sense of achievement, which is pretty much what life is all about. Emotions. They may be grindy and largely nonsensical, but they can be rewarding. I can understand being against them, but not dismissing them altogether.

      That said, I hate them too. I would only kill 5000 enemies with ranged weapons if I enjoy using ranged weapons and it happened naturally as a result of that. Which is why I found leveling up each weapon separately in Fable 3 incredibly annoying.

    • Dana says:

      Achievements should be invisible for players, so they could be, you know, achieved. And not grinded, farmed or done on purpose.

      They should come naturally through normal gameplay. Something like in Minecraft perhaps.

    • Neeko says:

      Some games I don’t care about them, some I do. Latest game I actually went achievement hunting for was Deus Ex: HR. As superficial as they are, I wouldn’t mind some type of Gamerscore to go with the achievements. But I’m sure PC gamers would flip a table.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      Chalk me up for “completely indifferent”, too. They pop up (I keep the Steam overlay running whenever I’m playing something in case a friend pops up in a game and I want to join in, so I do see them), I’m mildly surprised by their intrusion into the screen, shake my head, and have forgotten about them within fifteen seconds.

      I’ll be honest and admit that I do get a little bit of a Glorious PC Gaming Master Race kick from my surprise whenever I see one and my subsequent dismissal of them, mind.

    • Sweedums says:

      I reckon more people would care if Steam achievements all came together in a score like the xbox gamerscore… like an overall “Steamscore”…. then they would actually be something to show off.

      I still wouldn’t care mind, the only achievements that made me giggle when i got them were some of the M&B Warband ones because theres a bunch of Monty Python references squeezed in.

    • diamondmx says:

      I like achievements, when done right (not kill X enemies).
      Achievements in DXHR encouraged me to go for a no-kill playthrough. Poorly designed achievement system on the other hand, punished me for not being able to tell if accidental environmental deaths were considered my fault.

      Done right, achievements encourage and reward exploration and self-challenging play. They can be (on some level) a measure of your skill in certain gameplay areas.
      Done wrong, they encourage self-forced grinding and boring play, rewarded only by the occassional flash of an achievement to inform you that you’re having ‘fun’.

      Gamerscore on the other hand, puts all games and all achievements – no matter how poorly designed – on the same podium of worthiness, and as such makes the worst kind of achievements much more relevant than they should be. The idea that someone might have bought Hello Kitty Adventures just to make their gamerscore bigger is a little horrifying.

    • JohnH says:

      I agree. Waste of time.

    • sharkh20 says:

      Agreed that they are a waste of time. Miss the good old days where when you did something really hard in a level, you actually unlocked something cool, not a box of text telling you that you achieved.

    • G915 says:

      I don’t mind when they are not in the game but I certainly do a happy little clap when I get one. But then again, I do a happy little clap very often.

    • Xercies says:

      I don’t care for them, I mean I won’t go out of my way to get all the achievements in the game or something. But I kind of do like getting them and something about them popping up makes me feel good about myself.

      It can though ruin a game, when I found out that Fallout 3 had all the quests under achievements it made me feel that the game was smaller and linear then it was.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      They are pretty pointless and arbitrary, so no I don’t pursue steam achievements (or xbox ones when I had a 360.) I’m honestly a little embarrased for people who are proud of their gamerscore.

      That said, achievements such as the infamous gnome carrying in HL2 could be a useful tool for suggesting alternative ways to play the game. I’ve been playing through the Thief series lately, and the games would have benefited from things like a “ghost” achievement for things like finishing a level without harming anybody. Doing x action 500 times is not an interesting way to replay a game though.

    • Flaringo says:

      I don’t really care, either. I can see why some people do, though.

    • ASBO says:

      Before my recent rejoining of the PC club, I was actually getting needlessly obsessed over Xbox achievements, to the point that they greatly distracted me from the game I was playing. Because Steam achievements are (deliberately?) so pointless, I no longer have this problem. In fact now when I play Xbox games, I don’t care about them any more.

    • _PixelNinja says:

      I’ve had a few achievements pop up that I would find amusing because of their name and attribution (such as ‘Over 9000′, ‘Pew Pew’ and ‘Flapjack Master’ in Monday Night Combat for instance) but all in all I could care less — they don’t add anything relevant in my opinion.

    • DrGonzo says:

      What you mentioned Jams is why I hate them. Normally they don’t matter so I don’t care about them, they don’t effect me at all. But when they unlock stuff they make the game worse, at least multiplayer ones, then you end up with people not playing the game and instead trying to unlock stuff.

    • GenBanks says:

      I don’t understand how they could be any more of a waste of time than any secondary objective in any game.

      In Mass Effect or Oblivion do you ignore secondary quests and stick entirely to the plotline because everything else isn’t direct ‘progress’, and do you not bother spending that extra time rescuing those hostages in Deus Ex or accepting that little side challenge in GTA IV?

      Achievements offer just that, an optional way to let you discover a bit more about your game. And on top of that, you get to see whether your friends enjoy it enough to go the extra mile. It’s a way of showing skill in certain cases too, which almost everyone likes doing occasionally, or else you would rarely bother playing multiplayer.

      So they’re far from pointless… and they certainly don’t waste anyone’s time by being present in a game.

    • AMonkey says:

      Yep. I’ve never cared about achievements. I’d rather do something because its fun or interesting than “omg I get a virtual pat on the back!”

    • MonolithicTentacledAbomination says:

      I dig them. They’re not compulsory. Get over your OCD, people.

      Achievements are a good prompt for trying different playstyles.

    • Felixader says:

      I do not really care about achievements, and i am primarely a 360 player.

      Just thougth i put this up here and then add that sometimes they can even be worse by spoilering games.

    • LintMan says:

      Achievements provide no added value for me; I’d rather see the developer put the equivalent effort into in-game improvements instead. More of a concern to me, though is that achievement-type features seem to be getting used to justify always-online and anti-mod and anti-cheat measures in otherwise offline single-player games, partly in the name of protecting the integrity of “achievements”. Diablo 3, I’m looking at you.

    • Sweetz says:

      I don’t care about getting achievements. However, I do appreciate them from a “data-mining” perspective. E.g. most single player have achievements for basic game progress. By looking at these you can tell where your friends are in the game or, say, what percentage of the community has actually beat a game. It’s quite interesting to look over this data and you can bet that developers are using achievements for this purpose.

      This is why they know (for example), that despite vocal grumblers on forums complaining about games being too short, only 20% of the people that bought their 6-8 hour game actually even finished it anyway. Or that only 1% went out of their way to play it on “insane” difficultly or whatever.

      That 20% number isn’t that out of the ordinary by the way. Sometimes it’s a little depressing to look at the global achievements for some of my favorite games and see how few people actually finished them.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      Totally agree with you there Biscuit. I play a game for a good experience, story, etc. Achievements are just stupid.

    • xenist says:

      Absolutely right. I cannot think of a more worthless addition to gaming.

    • shivars says:

      I love Steam Achievements, gives me an extra purpose for playing, and hence extends the time I spend playing most games.

      But I think they need more features; notifying friends when people get achievements, some kind of GamerScore, use it to express more loudly how much people have completed games (achievment progress is a vague interpretation of how fully someone has explored a game).

    • Chufty says:

      I am not at all surprised that the RPS readership, not exactly the most far-reaching demographic, generally detests Achievements. Even to the point of it annoying them, which is quite funny. There are far more annoying things in this world than the occasional, unobtrusive achievement popup in the corner of the screen.

      Some achievements are bad, some are good. I enjoyed the challenges set by the Civ 5 achievements, and I’ve had a great laugh playing for some of the L4D ones.

      Many achievements I couldn’t give a toss about, but that doesn’t mean I turn red with rage and punch my monitor once for every xbox 360 owner on the planet for proliferating these silly meaningless messages.

    • minipixel says:

      achievements = lack of contents

  2. Nim says:

    Way too much, it’s like they connect deep down with my reptile brain and forces me to obsess of these various and usually pointless tasks to the point that they become the entire purpose of the game. Symptoms of this behavior generally subside after being away from an achievement-using game for about a week. I’ll try to stay away from them afterwards.

    Multiplayer achievements are the worst as they demand situations involving other players. Singleplayer can just be played through and be done with, usually getting all achievements easily. But Multiplayer is not a controlled environment. During a game you become divided between the OCD that require to unlock every single achievement unlock and the requirement of actually playing properly and have a chance of winning the game.

    L4D and TF2, damn you to the abyss.

    • LintMan says:

      The OCD factor is a main reason why I generally ignore achievements: I found many of them led to compulsively doing grindy, arduous, or non-fun things in the name of getting some achievement.

    • arccos says:

      Most multiplayer achievements seem to be actively harmful to the game. They generally encourage people to play in ways that are not only less fun for the player, but create a problem for their team.

      Developers need to be really, really careful how they do multiplayer achievements.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    I’m just glad you can disable the pop-ups by turning off the SHIFT-TAB overlay.

    I wish you could do that for Trophies on PS3. *pling*

    • Kaira- says:

      I was really glad when X360 disabled automatically showing acquired achievments. That pop-up actually somehow slowed down the games.

    • Amun says:

      I wish I had known this earlier — I was highly annoyed by the Portal 2 ‘cheevos popping up during or just before something interesting. They’re nothing more than a distraction from the game, I tell you! Especially when they’re awarded for simply completing levels! AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!

    • Hidden_7 says:

      But a couple Portal 2 achievements were punchlines to jokes. I’m actually a little sad that certain jokes only work on the first playthrough. I wish there were a way to reset your achievements.

  4. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    I do like them a lot.

    When i was hardcoring Alien Swarm last summer, me and my friend were helping each other do such things as complete the electro-gun challenge and such.

    Achievements can improve a game. Can.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I agree with this. I think achievements are totally stupid most of the time, but in a game I love and have already completed it’s a fun way to track optional objectives. I do find the popups jarring and immersion-breaking when I’m engrossed in a good game, though.

    • inertia says:

      Basically what djbriandamage says. They’ve annoyed me playing DXHR up to a point — I’m not going non-lethal because I want some stupid achievement, it’s because I’m invested in the game world and all its people in some real, rather than pretend, way. I dislike *that* achievement, but the ones I get for doing the sidequests seem to, ahem, *augment* the game a little bit. ‘Yeah, I did that quest!’ It’s a little memento.

    • Symitri says:

      Agreed with Tusque. Achievements have the potential to make a difference in a game and give it additional depth; a challenge placed on top of the game so that while the main content may be easier for the majority of players and allow greater accessibility, the achievements stand to separate people who actually want a challenge and allow them to take part in one.

      One of my most enjoyable recent co-op memories came out of Lara Croft GoL where we were trying to activate all the spikes on a certain puzzle as part of an achievement. We never would have bothered thinking about trying to achieve this if it didn’t exist and the hilarious and embarrassing number of deaths that occurred out of lag only made us want to get it more and it was worth it for the laughs we had.

      I frown upon games that simply take them in as rewards for doing things you’re expected to do or can easily do by logging in for about five minutes to set yourself up to gain one. Anything to do with playing a game for a certain span of time or completing a main mission are a waste of the system and do a lot to make people wonder what the fuss is.

    • trigger_rant says:

      I agree with Tusque D’Ivoire. In my opinion, there are 2 examples of how achievements are done right, and can add to the game experience overall. One way it works really well, is when achievements show you a way how a game is meant to be played. It can be seen well in Team Fortress 2. They give you a lot of hints how to get better at the game, a reward you accordingly for doing the right thing.
      Another example how achievements mights add to a game (exactly how Tusque D’Ivoire describes) is how they are implemented in games like Alien Swarm or Left 4 Dead 1/2, where you are presented with tough challenges that can only be scored with friends. It shows there has been put some thought into it.

      However, a lot of the time achievements are implemented in a rather dull way, popping up after you complete a level and such.

    • Jim9137 says:

      Alien Swarm is the only game that made me care enough. It must be one of the greater cultural artifacts of the 21st century. Why haven’t we already enshrined with laments for more content; why must it die a silent death, remembered by few in the cod avalanche of yet another boring bish bosh?

    • DrazharLn says:

      I agree. Achievements can be good and push you into doing fun things with the game (speedruns, hardcore, difficult loadouts etc). Alien Swarm is a great example of them done right. In many other games they’re just irritating and stupid. I modded them out of Mass Effect 2 after the head shot award thing started popping up, for example.

    • Annexed says:

      I likewise concur. When done properly, achievements can encourage you to play more or differently, and therefore get more value out of the game.

      There’s half a chance that I’m only saying this because I slaved away to get the Golden God 100% completion achievement in Super Meat Boy…

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      Super Meat Boy is another example of achievements done right. the challenges are there, the achievements are just to hint that it is actually recognised how good you are.

      An example for bad/stupid/useless achievements would be Just Cause 2. It’s a huge sprawling game with lots do discover and to do, but all achievements simply say “make XX headshots”. Kind of similar to Alien Swarm, to be honest, but somehow they do not work at all in the same way.

      I also remember a great rant here on RPS on the achievements in Fallout: New Vegas…

    • Askeladd says:

      Killingfloor has got archievments right too. They are either funny or they help you to know your “progress”.
      The newest game I play right now is WH40k Spacemarine. I couldn’t care less about those archievments.
      Singleplayer archievments are even more worthless.

    • Howl says:

      This. It entirely depends on whether I love the game or not, in which case they provide further incentive to seep myself in that game world.

      Batman:AA is a great example. Doing the challenges until you can pull of perfect combos in each combat challenge is the equivalent of fine tuning your gameplay in a shmup.

      Space Marine is a good example of how not to do achievements.

  5. KikiJiki says:

    They don’t actually do anything, so to be honest I don’t see the point.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      I actually thought you could buy stuff with XBOX GamerPoints or something, people seemed to care about it that much. I was fairly surprised to learn that was not the case.

    • wootallica says:

      That was the original intention with the gamer points but then someone learned how to exploit it and get a million points per achievement so MS canceled that program.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      The TF2 Achievements sometimes award quite useful weapons and various useless cosmetics, but for 99% of the rest of games on Steam, you’re right: they’re pointless. If you can’t enjoy a title and set your own internal goals outside of normal objectives for enjoyment, then imho the game is falling short.

    • wccrawford says:

      You can’t do anything with the points you score in oldschool games, either, but that didn’t stop people from trying to get more.

    • DrGonzo says:

      That’s right. I didn’t like playing for points then, it was lazy. I don’t like doing it now and they’ve brought it back. ‘Our game isn’t actually worth playing…’ ‘It’s ok, lets stick some achievements in there!’

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      wengart says:

      They actually represent a fairly reliable metric of how many players continued to play after any one point in a game.

  6. mjig says:

    I don’t care about them at all.

    It’s nice that they exist, they’re not intrusive and it’s cool for people that like them. It’s sort of interesting to see how many people who bought a game completed it on easy/medium/hard or who completed it at all, I guess.

    I hope it does not ever get revamped or brought to the forefront of Steam, like XBL achievements. Leave it like it is, everyone’s happy.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yeah. I like them mostly just because you can look at global acheivements and see how many people have made it through the game. It’s kind of funny, but for a good number of games on steam most people don’t even make it 1/3 of the way through. And often the number of people who actually finish a game is somewhere in the below 10% range.

  7. Ace Jon says:

    I don’t care about them, but when I get one, it’s a pleasant little surprise (“yeah, I guess I DID do that, and it WAS pretty awesome!”)

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      Keymonk says:

      This is how I feel about it too.

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      Rinox says:

      Pretty much this. I don’t give a crap in general, but in a game like TF2 it’s always fun to see you got an achievement for doing something silly/fun. Of course, I’m strictly talking about insane stuff (sticky jumping and killing someone with the demo’s bottle before landing), not about the tiresome “kill 500000 scouts” or whatever else there is of uninspired achievements.

    • boiglenoight darkstar says:

      I like achievements if they’re written in a way that acknowledges challenging parts of a game. If someone who’s also played the game looks at what you’ve earned, they’re reminded of those moments and respect what you’ve obtained.

    • Jumwa says:

      Yeah, pretty much sums up my feelings too. Though when I get them for things like “Build a unit!” in a game where building units is 90% of what happens, or “Kill an enemy!” in a standard FPS, I feel kind of annoyed at the triviality and thoughtlessness of it.

  8. Abundant_Suede says:

    I never even look at them. I tend to play in offline mode where possible, so I doubt they even get updated.

    [edit] The only achievements I’ve ever paid attention to were in Mass Effect, because they were part of the actual game (as opposed to some sort of platform tack-on), and conferred in-game benefits.

  9. Out Reach says:

    Wait… I have children?

    • thegooseking says:

      Achievement: The Birds and the Bees
      You have figured out where babies come from.

  10. pkt-zer0 says:

    I do them if they present an interesting challenge. Don’t care otherwise.

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      LTK says:

      Achievements are worth nothing if you didn’t achieve anything meaningful. If you gain 50% of the achievements in a game without even trying, something is wrong.

      So I agree. I only care about those that provide an interesting challenge. I remember one of HL2 Ep2′s achievements, where you had to kill a Hunter with its own flechettes. The possibility hadn’t occured to me before, and it was a fun challenge. So there’s a good example. “Achievement unlocked: Kill 1000 enemies” is a bad one.

    • Neskobar says:

      Yea I think that’s what it’s about for me. If I’m really into a particular game and, depending on the game/genre, am looking for a bit of a challenge, I might glance at some of the achievements to give myself another target to reach.

      Other than that I really take little notice of them.

  11. Tei says:

    I don’t care about achievements. But in some games, after closing the game I check the achievements and progress. Maybe to see how far I am on the game, or how much have progress in this session.
    Most of my friends don’t care anything about achievement, or even know exist.
    I have a friend, that mostly play Playstation3, that play for throphies, for him achievements are maybe more important than the game. He don’t play games, he play the “collect achievements” metagame.

    I generally like achievements, specially wen are well done. Are part of the “congratulations” screen wen you finish some game. But are on your profile forever like a note “Yea, I finished this game”.

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      Zephro says:

      I’m similar. I like them and find them interesting, but would hate it if they had GAMERSCORE like Xbox or trophy collectors like PS3.

      Steam ones work well because it’s just interesting little facts or silly little jokes or extra fun challenges to encourage you to find easter eggs/secrets etc. When it becomes competitive with people comparing gamerscores and playing games specifically to get platinums or whatever it’s really irritating and buying in to the competitive CoD kiddies.

      When it’s just “thumbs up you completed Deus Ex without killing anyone,” I like it as it’s just a little nod in my direction for achieving something difficult.

    • node says:

      At the same time Zephro, I think it’s that GAMERSCORE that makes the difference, and why it’s much more of a big deal on Xbox. Having that simple number to compare and gloat with your mates.

  12. Eggy says:

    In some games (e.g. trine and zombie driver) I’ve actively checked requirements for an achievement and proceeded to acquire said achievement. Most of the time I simply do not care though, they simply do not contribute anything to the game. If there would be some sort of reward model, people getting free DLC after getting a number of achievements I might be able to be persuaded to be more of a achievement whore.

  13. VIP0R says:

    The only game that works well with Achievements on Steam is TF2 where you get unlocks after achieving so many requirements for the class your using.

    I think the reason it hasn’t caught on is because not every game supports it on Steam, where as on 360 every game is tied into it and gives you a score that’s written all over your profile.

  14. Dominic White says:

    They can be occasionally interesting – tipping you off to secrets, alternative ways to play, etc, but I’d hardly consider them important in any way, shape or form. They’re useful for developers to track exactly what stuff in their games that players have achieved, though – if a studio can see that only 5% of players ever got to the final level, it lets them know that maybe they might want to make it shorter next time – less resources wasted on stuff 5% of the players will ever see.

    I never understood the obsession the PS3/360 crowds have with achievements, though. They really do seem to have generated a whole new wave of obsessive-compulsive completists who must do absolutely EVERYTHING in a game, even if they’re not having the slightest bit of fun.

    You give some people enough rope, and the first thing they’ll do is hang themselves with it.

  15. McDan says:

    Don’t have children, so that’s one less thing to worry about. For me steam achievements don’t mean anything really, I’m not bothered about them in any form. But I can see how they appeal to people, making them obsessed with getting all of them for the games they own. Achievement whores.

  16. Moni says:

    I try to ignore them on a first play-through, because I like to avoid that extrinsic motivation thing.

    On replays the good achievements add a little rewardingness to the metagame stuff I do anyway, like exploring every nook and cranny of a game.

    One example off the top of my head is Far Cry 2, which I’m sort of doing a half-arsed second play-through. It doesn’t have achievements on PC and not having some little stat tracker thingie telling me how far I am from 100% isn’t giving the motivation I need for exploring through the whole thing again.

    • pepper says:

      When you load or save a game it should show you your progress. As far as I have experienced the only progress is through the missions and not exploring.

  17. Octaeder says:

    I find them useful (too strong, perhaps: mildly interesting) as a way of seeing how far through a game friends are.

    A lot of the TF2 ones were quite good as a tool for learning how to play some of the classes I’d been ignoring. Other than that, can’t say I really care.

  18. Premium User Badge

    amishmonster says:

    They can be fun, especially for very stat-y games like CS and Killing Floor. The fact that there’s no meta-system built around them means that they don’t dig quite as far into my reptile brain as, say, Xbox achievements do. Which may be for the best, since I find myself worrying unnecessarily about achievements much more on the Xbox than on Steam.

    In short, not a big deal, but occasionally a nice little incentive. They were quite handy for knowing how far along through Bastion my various friends were.

  19. kwyjibo says:

    Achievements are bullshit, but they do form an easy way to see what your friends are up to on your Steam Community page.

    I know some people genuinely like achievements though, but these are the same idiots who are Starbucks mayors. I like gamification because it milks money from these imbeciles.

  20. EOT says:

    No, I don’t give a monkey’s about Steam achievments. Mostly because there is no attached numerical value giving them some kind of inherant worth. Which is probably why I’m quite proud of my 35 k gamerscore on the ol’ xbox.

    • skinlo says:

      That number is just a number though. There is no value in that either. For me the value would be the percentage completed in each game.

    • EOT says:

      They have some small value to me, and many others. So your assertion that ‘they have no value’ is patently wrong.

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      So, you only give value to the acknowledgement of your actions if there is an arbitrary number affixed to it, even though the actions are basically identical on both platforms? Interesting.

  21. Paxmayne says:

    I’m not usually that bothered about achievements, but after picking up TF2 again I’m quite enjoying farming them to unlock weapons etc.

  22. SonofSeth says:

    Don’t care much about achievements but I believe Blizzard is still the only one out there who really understands how to use them.

  23. skinlo says:

    I won’t replay a singleplayer game to get them, but might rejig the way I play through the first time to get one.

    In multiplayer, I just play as usual normally, and if I get one, I get one. Exception to that is L4D2, where I did a few easy runs on some of the maps to get the achievements.

    • SonofSeth says:

      Actually, I replayed single player part of Starcraft 2, three times already, but that has more to do with how good Starcraft 2 than how good the achievements are.

  24. Premium User Badge

    cai says:

    I actively dislike them and would turn them off if I could. Not only do they popup and break immersion and cheapen any emotional response I might be having (“Achievement unlocked: Good night, sweet prince”); but when there are invariably those which just ding when you hit a plot point (“Achievement unlocked: The part where he kills you”) then the list of locked achievements presented to you on buying a new steam game acts as a list of spoilers for that game.

    I don’t mind “shoot a thousand dudes” or “jump your bike over a tower” achievements that reward you for doing things the developers think is cool or hard. But the majority seem to be plot spoilers or immersion-breaking face-slaps. And even the “do a cool thing” ones annoy me because they sit there waiting to be done; rather than just appearing at some points like a wink from the developer, they say “if you haven’t done these things, you haven’t played this game the way it’s meant to be played”.

    Dislike.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Good night sweet prince is the worst achievement ever made, I think. When I saw it I promptly shut down my PS3 and never returned to the game on the console.

      I’ve later sold the game and used the money to pick up a cheap PC copy which I enjoyed immensely, not in small part due to not having atrocious crap popping up in my game.

  25. N'Al says:

    I don’t really pay attention to them much, tbh.

    At the same time, I know I’m ridiculously close to breaking the (imaginary) magical 10,000 Xbox Achievement Points barrier, and I’ve already set myself up for celebrating with a Mountain Dew once I do.

  26. povu says:

    I don’t count them, but sometimes it’s nice to try to get one of them. Like the one for completing all L4D campaigns on Expert. Gives a nice sense of achievement, something to work towards when you’re getting bored of a game or are looking for an extra challenge. The non lethal achievement of Deus Ex HR is also nice like that.

    Obviously I don’t care for the ‘killed your first enemy!’ type of achievements.

  27. Derpington Hurrrrrrr says:

    I don’t care about achievements, but then again I never really understood their purpose.

  28. PopeBob says:

    Depends on the game. Mostly I never bother with achievements on any platform, but some games don’t quite feel complete unless I do all the achievements. DXHR was among those. I suppose it’s a way to showcase my enthusiasm for a product above and beyond the 30-50 bucks spent.

  29. Matt says:

    I like ‘em. I like the little pats on the head they represent, especially for games like TF2 where they can go shape your gameplay and give you little objectives to do. I’m not so much of a fan of systems which give you accumulated points that try to validate your existance as a “gaming person”, although that may because i’d just score too low in it!

  30. Birky says:

    I think in some games they’re a nice addition. Somthing like Alien Swarm or Team Fortress 2 it’s quite nice to have some extra challenges when you’ve played through everything the game has to offer. (So if I can’t decide what type of game to play on L4D2 I’ll maybe pick something which I don’t have an achievement in.)

    However In a story based game or an RPG they incredabilty irritating an immersion breaking.

  31. Vinraith says:

    Most achievements are either irrelevant or annoying, but there are a few games where they actually represent useful record keeping. In AI War, for example, they make it easy to see which AI types you’ve previously won against, and at what difficulty threshold. In general, they tend to be of more use when they represent actually having accomplished something (beating a game on certain settings, for example), whereas most games just throw them at you en masse for doing anything.

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    tikey says:

    Depends on the game. Most of the time I don’t care at all, but there are some games where they have been nicely implemented. Like magicka, the achievements where jokes by themselves. Unlocking one meant another gag the game threw at me.

  33. Flint says:

    I’m not super-serious about them but I like collecting them: I love collecting stuff and those nice little icons that light up when I do certain things work nicely with that instinct. I don’t go out of my way to collect them or force myself to do things I dislike doing in order to get something, but they add me additional replay value when I go play games through for the x’th time.

  34. Luis_Magalhaes says:

    I don’t think they are as relevant, and this is because they are not as integrated into some sort of grand system-wide metagame.

    The only achievement system that I feel is close to matching Xbox’s is Blizzard’s. They have nailed it from the aural pleasure of the in-game effect to the rewards for the most significant ones to the ease of integration and bragging.

    If anything, I think Blizzard’s is even more effective than Xbox’s. Just writing this makes me salivate at the prospect of going back to WoW and going for Diamong in Starcraft II. NOOOOOOOOOOO!

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    Bluerps says:

    I kind of like them. I think, they have a similar effect for me like a postgame statistics screen in an 4X-game. They catalogue what I have done in the game. In some cases that’s rather pointless, like the ubiquitous “You have reached chapter X of the story” achievements, because I usually do remember how much of a game I’ve played through. But in other cases I think it’s neat to have a list of unusual things I have done in a game.

    “Look at that. I’ve already slain 1000 Diggles? That was fast.”

    • BebopBraunbaer says:

      i think the point is to compare them with others, so you can see which chapter the other one has finished.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      You’re right. But that’s not something I use them for, and that’s what this article is about, isn’t it?
      I seldomly care how far someone is in a game (and when I do, I simply ask them).

  36. Atic Atac says:

    I used to do the Xbox 360 achievement thing but then I found out that no-one cares about your gamerscore….and if they do..it’s to mock you. No one cares about your arbitrary numbered e-penis. It’s the same with Wow gear.

    What matters is skill, wins, hi-score, general statistics and your team coming together and pwning. What also matters is enjoying a game for it’s story and great design….not spending hours getting an achievemnt no-one cares about. Games are either for your own enjoyment alone or with your friends….achievements and gamerscore are ultimately not enjoyment and people who play crappy titles they don’t enjoy to get them should seriously rething their life and where they put their priorities.

  37. bitbot says:

    I don’t care that much about them but in some cases they can help give a game more value in that it gives you goals after you’ve already finished the game. Like the achievement of getting gold medals on all levels in Defense Grid, I tried for a long while to get that one and I had fun doing it. The ones you get by just playing the game though, they’re pretty useless. There has to be some kind of challenge in getting them IMO.

  38. simonh says:

    I think the key is that there’s no Gamerscore, so there’s no easy way of telling who’s got the most achievements. Also, Xbox live displays the achievements prominently everywhere, while Steam hides them away a bit.

    Achievements can be good in that they allow developers to add fun extra challenges with little dev-time. The boring inevitable ones like “kill 100 dudes” or “complete the first chapter” though are just annoying and frankly feel a bit condescending.

    Also, I really can’t stand the whole ‘achievement culture’ where people buy the most awful games just because they hand out their 1000 gamerscore within the first hour.

    I see nothing positive coming out of Gamerscore though, just sales of mediocre games.

  39. Freud says:

    None. I haven’t chased a single one. I don’t even look at them to see what they are.

  40. BebopBraunbaer says:

    the only game were i was interested in archivements was “magicka” because i found them kind of funny (names and stuff you may do to get them)

    maybe there are other games with similar styled archivements but i didnt found one yet.

    besides magicka i dont give a *** about them

  41. JayFace says:

    For me I want the Steam achievement system to be more socially friendly.

    I’m happy that Steam finally allowed for Facebook linking which made my friends list increase by around 40% but I want more from the achievement system like what Xbox does (a tally of points that’s easily viewed and accessed).
    A better comparison between you and your friends.
    A summary of the top player (in comparison of achievements in that game your currently playing) when I press SHIFT+TAB.

    For me knowing that I’m just in front of my friends or just behind them I play more as I can see little goals rather than the big goal (which is to either top a match or finish a game)

    Hell even the new iOS5.0 ‘Game Centre’ has a better achievement system that Steam in my eye’s.

  42. DK says:

    They are not only pointless they’re actively harmful. There is only one steam achievement that had a point, and that was “This is the part where he kills you”. It was part of a joke, and only works once.

  43. Timthos says:

    I would say I like achievements just because they are a little extra something to do in the game. Don’t like them? Then you can almost entirely ignore them. But for completionists and people who like the challenge they can present, it’s just something else you can do in the game, and sometimes they even make you play in a different way from usual and as a result foster a deeper understanding of the game’s mechanics.

  44. fionny says:

    I HATE “cheevo’s” purely because they disrupt me from normal gameplay… examples of this would be never having finished Halflife 2 Episode 1 due to getting hung up on stupid things like get that ruddy gnome from start to finish… if i mess it up i rage and am quite likely to drop them game…

    I find it hard to totally ignore them….

  45. fishmitten says:

    None whatsoever. 360 achievements only feel significant because your gamerscore is given so much prominence. I’d say it’s too late to do the same with Steam.

  46. Jody Macgregor says:

    I have learned to stop worrying and love the achievements. It all started with that one you get in Portal for a continual fall of several kilometres. I rigged up two portals one above the other and then drank a cup of tea while watching myself plummet for several minutes for a laugh. Then I closed my eyes and was still falling.

    From there it’s been a slippery slope into Team Fortress 2′s achievements, which, as mentioned by others, are actually a valuable tool for teaching yourself the ins and outs of classes and tactics you wouldn’t ordinarily try.

    The achievements in Left 4 Dead served a similar purpose. For instance, I started out backing away from Boomers while shooting them and hoping I’d be out of the radius when they popped, but then I realised there was an achievement for pushing one back before shooting him. It was a revelation. Not only is it a useful tactic, but watching the tubby boombalada wobble away after I thwacked him was immensely satisfying.

    Sometimes they’re pointless, but sometimes they’re a force for good and while I understand indifference, I do not understand people who can be bothered hating them.

  47. ain says:

    I’ll never care about these. If a game needs arbitrary rewards to keep someone playing chances are that it’s not a very good game in the first place.

  48. fuggles says:

    I find them crazy, mostly as I don’t play MP and the SP ones are normally patronising. YOU FINISHED LEVEL 1? ACHIEEEEEEVEMENT. LEVEL 2 DONE? HAVE ANOTHER!!!! Gee whizz, thanks.

  49. Nick says:

    I actually hate them and wish every game with achievements had the option to turn them off.

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    jmexio says:

    Funny, I was wondering the same thing recently, do they matter?

    What I keep waiting for is to have them be of use, turning steam into a big metagame itself. I don’t need it to compile all the achievements into an overall steam score that you can compare with friends (just have two friends on steam, by the way), but I would love if it kept track globally like that anyway… And maybe offer some kind of personalized message, a subtle change in the homepage that I see when I log in, I don’t know, some kind of acknowledgement of sorts from the system.

    Right now it seems like they are a little hidden, would like to have some functionality brought forward if only privately for each user. And using achievements to earn discounts, offers, etc would be just too sweet.

    Would love to know Valve’s take on achievements, because they seem a bit bland to me currently…