Easy Achievements Can Boost Game Sales, Says Gearbox Boss

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Easy Achievements Can Boost Game Sales, Says Gearbox Boss

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Gearbox big cheese Randy Pitchford says game makers can increase their sales by tens of thousands of copies just by tossing in some easy Achievements to attract the relentless Achievement Whore demographic.

It never occurred to me that Achievement whores could actually represent a discrete market demographic, nor that there might actually be gamers out there who base their purchasing decisions on how quickly a game will help them boost their Achievement scores. But I guess that's why Pitchford is calling the shots at Gearbox while I can't even get my dog to do what I want him to; he puts a lot more thought into this sort of thing that the average person.

"The Achievement hunter, who's going to make purchase decisions around the Achievements per minute ratio - he's probably buying ten to twenty titles a year, or at least playing that many. He's playing a lot. So he's a very frequent customer, and you want to be in that pile. That's just business," Pitchford said

"The time it takes [to include easy Achievements] is minimal, because you're designing Achievements anyway, and you can probably affect your sales by something like 10 and 40 thousand units," he continued. "If you're talking about a triple-A game selling between 1 and 2.5 million units. You're talking tens of thousands of units of impact there."

My first reaction when I read this was disbelief. Are there actually people who buy and play games just to ratchet up their Gamescore? After a moment of reflection, however, I was forced to conclude that he's almost certainly right. My own experience with Achievements has taught me a thing or two about their addictive qualities and for an awful lot of gamers these days, getting the Achievements is an important part of playing the game. Hell, The Escapist even has its own "Badge Hunters" user group.

So why aren't more games packed with easy Achievements? Pitchford said the problem is that Achievements are designed by, of all people, game designers. "Unfortunately most people in the industry don't think through it that much," he said. "You have designers designing achievements, and they're the worst."

Source: OXM

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Well thath does me. I'll buy loads of games if you can get an achivement for pressing pause ;)

That is a wonderful achievement. Now all we need is a "Ragequit" achievement.

Malygris:

It never occurred to me that Achievement whores could actually represent a discrete market demographic, nor that there might actually be gamers out there who base their purchasing decisions on how quickly a game will help them boost their Achievement scores.

Really? Why did you think everybody and their dog did it? Xbox's Achievements, PSN's Trophies, Steam's Achievements... Wii's... Erm... Wii's... Whatever the fuck...

They're, generally, stupidly easy to code, add a bit of "artificial but ultimately optional and thus forgivable" game length and, better yet, reward a gamer's behavior of playing the game. We're very simple minded creatures really. Even something as simple as a box of text saying "congratulations, you did something!" makes you feel slightly better about ourselves. "I achieved something!... Something stupidly easy and arbitrary perhaps! But I managed to do it!"

MorteSphere:
That is a wonderful achievement. Now all we need is a "Ragequit" achievement.

I'm sorry but that already exists. Look under the achievement named "BarbeQueQ".

That's actually a really good marketing idea. I know tons of people that will ask "How easy is it to get achievements?" to determine whether they buy it or not. I even rented some games for the achievements. I don't know why... there's something just entrancing about them.

achievements never did it for me, I don't even pay attention to them. How long until they start treating gamers even MORE like retarded.

"dawww, you took your first steps in the game!"
"You just pushed the X button for the first time!"

Surely this has been mentioned before, i mean isn't it obvious?

How many copies of Avatar would have been sold if it weren't for the achievements?

I figured it would have an impact on rentals but people paying 60 bucks for a game they don't like just for achievements is crazy. It happens alot but still.

I have also begun to notice a correlation between bad games and easy achievements. Now my theory isn't 100% yet but the base of it is most games with easy achievements are usually bad to begin with. I think the industry has already passed Pitchford. I hope he didn't give away thier trade secrets.

Nurb:
achievements never did it for me, I don't even pay attention to them. How long until they start treating gamers even MORE like retarded.

"dawww, you took your first steps in the game!"
"You just pushed the X button for the first time!"

Well considering that immediate feedback is the most effective teaching method in the entirety of written human history I think they'll stick with it for quite some time.

Every organism is looking for the most immediate feedback it can get, often overlooking more effective tactics that return feedback at a much further along point.

I LOVE achievements (or Trophies where I tend to play) but I'm not a big fan of easy ones. Course on the other end of the spectrum I HATE the "Play the whole game without saving, continuing, getting shot, sneezing, or clicking R2" ones. Especially when there are 8 hours of gameplay between me and the end of the game.

Caliostro:

Malygris:

It never occurred to me that Achievement whores could actually represent a discrete market demographic, nor that there might actually be gamers out there who base their purchasing decisions on how quickly a game will help them boost their Achievement scores.

Really? Why did you think everybody and their dog did it? Xbox's Achievements, PSN's Trophies, Steam's Achievements... Wii's... Erm... Wii's... Whatever the fuck...

They're, generally, stupidly easy to code, add a bit of "artificial but ultimately optional and thus forgivable" game length and, better yet, reward a gamer's behavior of playing the game. We're very simple minded creatures really. Even something as simple as a box of text saying "congratulations, you did something!" makes you feel slightly better about ourselves. "I achieved something!... Something stupidly easy and arbitrary perhaps! But I managed to do it!"

Since I can't use codebreaker anymore for nextgen games it does help me want to play games more than once. Which means I might notice something positive about them I'd have otherwise missed.

The only reason I didn't play MGSIV twice is because of no trophies, which is a shame because I'd like to, I just don't like seeing nothing for my efforts.

Its sad but true. I know someone who bought a game (cant remember what it was) just because there was an achievement worth 370 points. After he got that, he hardly touched it again.

I don't mind achievements but i hate those really hard one that make "don't die once or don't use a certian type of magic or weapons" etc.. too me those type of achievements are not worth getting and also those online only achievement for a certian game type that no plays(gears of war 2)

I'm still in disbelief that achievements sell games, the few achievement whores I know own those Blockbuster game membership and just rent games constantly instead of buying them. Buying games just for achievements is a stupid move if you can just rent them...guess that says something about achievement whores...

I just play games I like and get achievements because it is a good feeling seeing that message pop up

I enjoy playing for for some of them, but when they are just too darn easy they sort of annoy me. I'm enjoying Prince of Persia in general, for instance, but you get like 60 points in achievements in the first minute of the game for following the required story path. Granted, others later in the game are much more fun and difficult to get but I felt oddly cheap after putting in the game.

MetaKnight19:
Its sad but true. I know someone who bought a game (cant remember what it was) just because there was an achievement worth 370 points. After he got that, he hardly touched it again.

That's really sad.

I myself am an achievement whore BUT I will only chase the achievements in games that I actually like. I won't play a game if I don't like it just for easy achievements, but I will try to hunt down all the (single player) achievements in a game if I play the game. For me, it is something to do other than just blast through the game as quick as possible.

[Shrugs] Well achievements can be fun to some extent, but as you don't get anything for them in most cases I don't see the appeal, and oddly I do not think that real "Achievement Junkies" are as common as is being suggested.

In general achievements in Mass Effect (for example) do something in your next playthrough, easy achievement giving you a buff for additional playthroughs to make the game easier, especially on higher difficulty levels.

Blizzard allegedly plans to use their achievement system to reward dedicated Blizzard fans by making content availible in their games that can only be unlocked with a certain overall Blizzscore or achievements and accomplishments from other games.

While not tied to an achievement you can also see a trend similar to the above with Bioware's current ploy with Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2, and a set of armor obtained with one game that you can use in the other.

I suppose I might be proven wrong, but I think most "achievement junkies" that exist are looking for rentals (as mentioned) or very cheap games.

It should also be noted that there is an increasing divide in the achievement "community". I've found increasing numbers of people who used to care to some extent, but no longer do so because achievements have become so easy to get. Games like "Jumper" being horrendous games that have apparently seen serious rentals and used-resales because of how people can use it to pad their score.

Personally I only find achievements "noteworthy" when I am looking at someone who has played the same game that I have and I want to see what we've done comparitively. Thus as a result I chase SOME of them, but don't go out of my way for the most obtuse ones that simply are not fun (for me) to get. An achievement awarded for say grinding a million things pointlessly or waiting to be blessed by the RNG (Random Number Generator) is something I could care less about. Ditto for a lot of easter egg-hunt type things that don't provide an in-game reward equal to the annoyance in getting them.

Of course I speak for myself there, not the majority, but it also seems that the majority of gamers are like me.

As far as increasing the sales of a game by catering to achievement hunters, well again I think it will simply devaulue achievements to the point where you will see it alienating as many people who would formerly have been interested as it would attract.

Time will tell.

>>>----Therumancer--->

I am an achievement whore, but I won't buy a game just because it will give me a bucket load of gamerscore within seconds of playing it. Albeit easy achievements make my GS look better, but I prefer achievements that actually require me to do something challenging...thus fulfilling the title of ACHIEVEMENT, imo obviously.

Look, I know there are people out there who like to hack systems just for the pleasure of subverting something, but let me clue the achievement hunters into something: If you are paying money expressly to boost an arbitrary number, you are the one being gamed.

Hah, I actually have a friend who bought the Avatar game to get the 1,000 easy points in it.
*sigh* People and their gamerscores.
I kind of do that on my PS3... I must have TROPHIES.
I fail.

This doesn't actually surprise me all that much

Okay I like achievement as much as the next guy, but I prefer to actually fucking work for them. See Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 those achievements/trophies actually take a damn lot of work to get, and they are oh so fulfilling to get them.

Oh, there are sites out there that play a bit with the whole "what is an ACTUAL achievment" thing out there.

http://www.trueachievements.com
Gives Achievments a multiplier based on what percentage of registered gamers who own the game have the achievment. One worth 50 pts may have an adjusted value of 120 if too few people have it.

http://www.mygamercard.net
Lets you see how far above the average achievment score for any particular game you are.

Uff, you know whats REALLY annoying? Spending the better part of six months playing games on your brand new Xbox360, collecting a modest pile of achievments, and then when you finally decide to delve into xbox live, you accidentaly overwrite your existing profile, deleting all your saved games and achievements, then having to go through all the games again to get them back >_< *sulks bitterly*

Yeah, I'm an achievement junkie. But for me, it's about getting all the achievements in games I already own; I don't buy games for achievements.

The only time I've acquired games for the points has been during achievement point challenges (through 360Voice.com), and I rented all the games I used, except one: NBA 2k6, which I saw on sale used for only twice the price of a rental ($6 instead of $3), and I figured considering my kids loved playing NBA 2002 and that was the last basketball game I bought, I could splurge and get them an upgrade. ;)

That is quite impressive imo. O.o
I would never get a game becouse of achievements since... well, you know, what are achievements?
No, really, what are they?

A small square with a picture and maybe a funny line to describe it "proving" you acomplished something?
I confess I get a smile on my face when I get an achievement but I still don't get the point.
If that boosts the sales, then good for them. There are people for everything in this crazy world of ours.

for me, achievements should be something I could reasonably do on 2-3 playthroughs of the game. Most of them should be attainable in one playthrough if I try, and there should be at least one or two that are quite difficult (but not "Be in the top 10 of the multiplayer ladder" difficult).

getting collection achievements should also give you SOME benefit in the game. In Xmen Origins, for instance, even though I have the Dogtags achievement, I'd probably pick up any dogtag I saw if I started a new game, because it gives experience. Even though I have all of the riddler achievements in Batman Arkham Asylum, I'd probably get whatever riddles I could, just because it gives experience. In Assassin's Creed, I probably would NOT collect the flags after I've gotten the achievement, as they give nothing but a little mark on your completion DNA sequence. On the PS3, the flags don't even give a trophy IIRC, so there's NO reason to collect them on the PS3.

Achievements should also feel like achievements. In Oblivion, they hadn't hammered out the achievements yet, so all the achievements are "Complete all the Guilds, the Main Questline, and the Expansion Questline".. By the time Fallout 3 rolled around, the achievements were much better.

Bad achievement structure HAS sullied my enjoyment of some games. Blue Dragon for instance, you can play through the whole game and get 2 achievements out of 50.. that shouldn't happen.. Most of the achievements in Blue Dragon are "Perform this one Quicktime Minigame that you only get to do once in the whole game perfectly" and "Get to level 99".. seriously? lol

Achievements have the potential to make a bad game good.

But without a worthwile challenge, that bad game will remain that way.

the meat of his argument is "Game Designers shouldn't be solely responsible for designing achievements", and that's probably true. I don't think he's looking for games to be like Avatar or Oblivion, but actually being able to complete the achievements? It's a big part of enjoying a game for a huge subset of players.. I wouldn't say that they're their own demographic, and not everyone who hunts for achievements is an achievement whore - everyone likes achievements.. even if you don't care to go out of your way for them, you like it when they pop up and they can give extra life to a shorter single player game.

Altorin:
Bad achievement structure HAS sullied my enjoyment of some games. Blue Dragon for instance, you can play through the whole game and get 2 achievements out of 50.. that shouldn't happen.. Most of the achievements in Blue Dragon are "Perform this one Quicktime Minigame that you only get to do once in the whole game perfectly" and "Get to level 99".. seriously? lol

I don't understand why it's a bad thing for the achievements to be easy to miss on your first playthrough. Wasn't the whole idea that they encourage you to play the game in non-standard ways and continue playing after the main quest is over?

Nurb:
achievements never did it for me, I don't even pay attention to them. How long until they start treating gamers even MORE like retarded.

"dawww, you took your first steps in the game!"
"You just pushed the X button for the first time!"

I'm saying... Soon. While I like achievements, I find the intro ones to be fairly condescending.

Oh, you finished the tutorial! Um, ya. It was magic and I pwned its ass, now fuck off so I can do something worth congratulating me on, like killing tons of Doods.

*BZZT* wrong again game company CEO! Achievment whores go for the tough ones no matter how hard they are to get (That's what makes them whores). Besides, a good game makes profit, not paltry points.

shMerker:

Altorin:
Bad achievement structure HAS sullied my enjoyment of some games. Blue Dragon for instance, you can play through the whole game and get 2 achievements out of 50.. that shouldn't happen.. Most of the achievements in Blue Dragon are "Perform this one Quicktime Minigame that you only get to do once in the whole game perfectly" and "Get to level 99".. seriously? lol

I don't understand why it's a bad thing for the achievements to be easy to miss on your first playthrough. Wasn't the whole idea that they encourage you to play the game in non-standard ways and continue playing after the main quest is over?

*shrug* I like having at least some achievements out of the 50 or so to be relatively straight forward

It's absolutely Fucking true

I like achievements for doing hard stuff, or something witty like in Nuts and Bolts: Put a bull into the volcano to make some roast beef.

Achievements for sucking are even better. If (or better yet WHEN) i'm a game developer I would have achievements for doing something that isn't winning.

"LEAVE ME ALONE! Got hit by the same enemy more than 5 times while running- 10g"

"Maybe I shoulda saved? Yeah you should have... -10g" (Return to the menu without saving at least 30 minutes of progress)

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