Ever since the Xbox 360 launched in 2005, achievements have been a huge part of my video game career. While some people may think that the inclusion of achievements is toxic, they have strengthened my gaming experience. Not only do they reward players for trying new things in a video game, achievements also add to the longevity of a title. For example, there are games like Dishonored 2 which task players to finish the campaign with both characters, without killing enemies, without being spotted, as well as completing the game on ” Low Chaos” and “High Chaos.” These tasks guarantee at least two playthroughs and for a game that lasts around 13 hours, this will double, or even triple the time it takes to unlock every achievement.
There are countless games that contain achievements linked to finding collectibles. Unless you know where each and every secret is in a particular game, it’s unlikely that most players will unlock these achievements on the first playthrough. Many gamers I know say that I’m hooked on unlocking achievements. These claims are 100% true. My Xbox Live Gamerscore is over 280,000 and counting (can you make a link to your profile here, or maybe a screenshot?). I particularly love how some of my favorite games from this generation like Gears of War 4, Mortal Kombat X, and Forza Horizon 3 feature online achievements because it keeps me connected to the community. As someone who has seen an online ecosystem fail in many likeable games, I particularly enjoy having a reason to help support what I enjoy.
As much as I love achievements and having a 100% completion attached to my profile, I recently came across something that not only upset me, but troubled me as well. Since May, I’ve been a fan of Blizzard’s fantastic Overwatch: Origins Edition. From the fast-paced gameplay, the stellar characters, and the strong community, this game has sunk its hooks into me from the very beginning. Due to a variety of reasons, (playing other games to create content and personal issues among other things) I had to put down Overwatch for a while. I missed the Halloween event and recently picked the game up again two weeks ago. Since my last time with the game, Sombra and Ana were added into the ever growing roster and there were some nice tweaks to the format.
Looking at the achievement list, I found that there were four linked to the Halloween event. I searched everywhere for it. I opened each and every menu that I could find, but was met with no success. After searching the Internet, I discovered that those achievements were no longer obtainable. As an achievement hunter, being unable to unlock an achievement due to a time limit/technicality upset me. When the Xbox One launched, Microsoft introduced challenges. These were like achievements, but they were timed and rewarded players who obtained them with an in-game item or wallpaper for their profile. These had no effect on a person’s Gamerscore and merely served a purpose to give Xbox Live members some incentive to play a particular game during a certain timeframe.
Being punished for not playing a game during a special event is not only in bad taste, it may start a bad trend on Xbox Live. Earlier this week, Blizzard began a Winter event for the game that ends in the beginning of January. While I have so many other games that require my attention, I’ve been putting a lot of time into Overwatch so that I don’t permanently miss these achievements. Although I find the game to be enjoyable, I feel like for achievement hunters (or my fellow trophy hunters on PlayStation) are being punished for no particular reason. There is a community out there for many people who like scoping out achievements and it’s a shame that companies can allow something like this. It looks like Blizzard will continue this practice and it’s something that I feel I must speak out about.
When an event or situation affects something you love, being vocal is definitely worth it. My goal is to inform other Xbox Live members and achievement hunters that a practice like this is happening. What worries me is that other publishers and developers will begin doing this as well. It’s my hope that Microsoft either speak up about the practice or update the rules as to how achievements are handled. I will continue to play Overwatch (since my friends and family all have it), but I have a bitter attitude. Some people may call me an entitled gamer and while I don’t think so, I understand if that title is given to me. I’m just very passionate about achievements and I can’t just sit back and have something bad happen to a formula that has been working just fine since 2005. Overwatch is starting something very troubling in the achievement department and for that, I’m definitely concerned.