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."