Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why the Wii U should have achievements.


All right, back on track!  You can start expecting articles daily again.  I've gotten over my writer's block hump and I'm motivated to write again, so here we go!

When it comes to the Wii U, online has been a popular topic of discussion.  Nintendo knows that their fans were unhappy with the DS and Wii's online systems, and they've promised us that the Wii U's will be better.  The bar is set high though, thanks to the Playstation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live (XBL) services.  There are numerous features on the PSN and XBL that are expected to be present in any next generation online system, such as cross game chat, multimedia services like Hulu and Netflix, and achievements.  Despite these expectations, there are countless fans of Nintendo who argue against such features, with the inclusion of achievements probably being the most popular debate.

It's pretty obvious that Nintendo's fanbase is split when it comes to the inclusion of achievements.  You can go to any website specializing in Nintendo news or any Nintendo forum, and you'll find people who say that they don't want achievements on the Wii U.  Their arguments usually boil down to two points, with the first being that they don't really add anything and the other is they take away from content inside the game.  While these arguments do hold some water, they can be refuted quite easily.

The debate over achievements between Nintendo fans is probably
one of the most talked about online features so far.

To say that achievements don't add anything is completely ignoring a large group of gamers that replay games specifically to collect achievements.  You may see that as a bad thing, but to just as many people, achievements add an extraordinary amount of replay value.  Some of these gamers normally wouldn't run through a game to try to collect everything, but if an achievement tells them to run through a game to collect everything, they will.  Sure, it may artificially add replay value, but nevertheless, it still adds incentive to complete sidequests and completely finish a game.

Saying they take away content from the actual game is a horrible point too.  Achievements don't take away from in game content at all, they just give you more reason to see everything in the game.  Every game I've played that has some form of achievements has never felt gimped specifically because of the achievements.  In fact, it feels like the developers create the game first and then later decide what achievements would best fit the game they created.  The fact that they feel like after thoughts may be an issue with achievements, but the fact is, for the most part, they don't take away from ingame content.

I'm not arguing that achievements are perfect, though.  They're not.  There are quite a few games where many of the achievements are just given to you and don't even add replay value to the game. For example, when I first played the Sly Collection on the PS3, I got a trophy for just starting the game.  Nothing else.  And I know there's also the fact that once you're done collecting an achievement, they don't do anything outside of the game other than sit there and show off how many games you've beaten, and that does bother me.

This game probably has one of the most pointless trophies I've ever
had the pleasure to unlock.

But something you have to realize is that this is the first generation that achievements have ever been implemented.  Of course there are going to be kinks in the system the first time it's ever used, and next generation could potentially work those kinks out.  I personally think there's a massive amount of potential in the achievement system, we just need a company to step up and find that potential.  And what better company to lead the mission of realizing achievements' full potential than Nintendo?

Now, I know Nintendo hasn't exactly been a pioneer on the internet front, but they've shown that they're willing to step up their game with the Wii U, and improving the current achievement system could be one way to show that.

An example of how Nintendo could improve achievements would be to actually give them a purpose outside of their game.  They could create a point system where you receive a certain amount of points based on how difficult the achievement was to unlock, and then those points could be used for downloads on Nintendo's next virtual store.  Of course it would take a fairly good amount of points to buy a game off of the store, but it would be incentive for developers to make meaningful achievements that harder to collect and it would also give incentive to players to actually go through the game and collect them.

Overall, the current system achievements use is flawed, but if it's tweaked a little a bit, it can become a great compliment to online gaming.  Nintendo fans that don't want an achievement system on the Wii U are only focusing on the flaws, no matter how wrong or right they are, and they aren't taking into account their full potential and what Nintendo could possibly do with them.  To automatically write off a function after only one generation of testing is wrong, and Nintendo should show fans the true potential of achievements.  It would not only fix a system with a few issues, but it would also prove to gamers that Nintendo is serious about online gaming.

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