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Mandatory Trophies in 2009 |

Tosh covered this in the side bar, but the topic is worthy of more coverage. Sony will begin mandating trophy support for all new PS3 games in 2009.

Many gamers are happy, since they like trophies and this will mean that more games will feature them. But this also means that some developers that don’t want to add trophies to their game will just not put their game on the PS3.

I don’t like this kind of thing at all. This crosses the line from basic technology, stability, and obscenity issues to actual creative content. This would be like the movie theater chains mandating that all new comedies use laugh tracks or all new action movies must have at least two car chases.

It’s normal for bosses, investors, and big clients to make these kind of demands, but Sony (and Microsoft/Nintendo) is essentially a middle-man between independent studios and the public. If I were a passionate independent developer, and some clueless beaurocrat middle man started to tell me how to design my product and what feature list it needed, I would tell them to kiss off! What’s next: all games must feature bald space marines and singing purple dinosaurs?

OK, I’m probably overreacting a hair. Trophy logic can’t be that complicated to program in to a game and it’s not that invasive on the game experience. However, I still think that this is the wrong way to go. If a development studio is able to fund and create their own products, they should have maximum creative control over the end user experience and shouldn’t be mandated into supporting the platform’s latest brand-identity marketing gimmicks.

Lastly, let features live and die on their own merit. If a feature is appreciated by users and the development resources are justified, developers will generally support the feature on their own terms without coercion. We are seeing this willing developer adoption of trophy support. Why take the choice out of the hands of the developers and force those that feel otherwise into compliance?

I’m sure my coblogger Henning would love to enforce split-screen support on all games, but isn’t this kind of decision best left in the hands of the developer?

  • Mike

    I don’t care about trophies and achievements but I don’t blame Sony for enforcing this. Third parties have become extremely lazy about implementing features that should be standard. It’s hard to believe ten years ago companies would go out of their way to support the Dual Shock when it wasn’t standard, but these days won’t do things that can work on every system. Good luck getting anyone besides the first party developers to do anything interesting with Home. If it can’t be sold after the fact as DLC, third party aren’t going to care.

    As for the movie analogy this isn’t about content so much as presentation. Nobody says what needs to be in every movie, but to be in a theater it should probably has a correct aspect ratio, Dolby Digital sound, and opening credits to appease the various guilds. A lot of it is just going to be Xbox 360 achievements converted into trophies anyway.

  • Where would the companies sell their games. Achievements are everywhere. Standardization in games and mandating certain things be in games is fine. I think it’s better for Sony to mandate certain things to give the platform something unique.
    I can think of a few other things that shoudl be mandated.
    Custom sound tracks. IN game chat support. Install to hard drive option.

    I understand your comments but, I believe they only see the problem from the developers side. Sony has a platform to keep consistent and this is a way of doing that.

  • This is done somewhat to ensure games do not ship on PS3 without trophies, games which already ship with achievements on xbox360. And PS3 exclusives should better make use of the feature anyway. Trophies add a lot of replay value for people who care, and for people who don’t, it doesn’t matter anyway.

  • I’d much rather have splitscreen support in games that should have it than mandatory trophies in all games. 🙂

    That said, I see your point, but don’t agree. Fact is, there are lots of gamers out there for whom trophies are a big deal. Often gamers buy the 360 version of a game just because it has Achievements. Does Sony want to leave that money and marketshare on the table, especially when developers are already creating Achievements for the 360 versions and it’s easy enough to port them over to the PS3? I don’t think so. Does Sony want a bifurcated market of games with Trophies and games without? No. Sony should have implemented Trophies ages ago.

    On a related note, what is Sony going to do about mandated Home support? What good is the ability to get together with friends in Home, if a game doesn’t support Home game launching? (In case you didn’t know, you can get together with friends in Home, set up a Warhawk game from within Home (which includes map, game type, etc), and then you’ll all be whisked away to the same match in Warhawk, together as a party. Great stuff!)

  • Trev

    Good stuff for me personally. I have become addicted to trophies re-playing GTAIV to get them and putting off fallout 3 until they’re patched in.

    I agree they shouldn’t be forced but developers on the PS3 plaftform have been lazy. The amount of times i have read the eurogamer face offs and seen lazy port after lazy port makes me frustrated. i hope this gives developers a kick up the ass and give us PS3 gamers some better quality games at last.

  • don’t you think sony already has a list of requirements before they can put out a ps3? trophy support is just one more on what i’m sure is a long checklist of what developers are “forced” to do, the same as with any licensed console platform.

  • er, “put out a ps3 game”. should have proofread before hitting ‘submit’ 😀

  • darrin

    I guess I’m in the minority on this one.

    This is like politicians forcing landlords to provide hot water to residential tenants: sure, many people are happy because they want hot water, but other tenants are upset because landlords are forced to take some low-priced properties off the market and convert them into higher end rentals or office space.

    I disagree that developers were being lazy on this issue; most but not all developers seem to be eagerly adopting trophies. Developer compliance doesn’t generally seem to be a problem. There are just a small number of holdouts.

    And for those that love trophies, great! You are in the majority. But it’s probably not a big deal if a few of the smaller or more unique titles don’t support trophies and you have a 90% inclusion rate.

  • mpz

    Hot water is optional in a tenancy in your neck of the woods? Hah.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of not putting the game on ps3 because of trophies, it is that the resources to do it will have to be paid for somehow. Almost certainly by reducing resources elsewhere. QA time, art, are probably the most hit.

    On the flip-side, since so many seem to love the damn things, it will probably soon get to the point that people wont get a game without them, so the mandatory requirement isn’t really changing anything, and developers will be forced to do it by economics anyway.

    Speaking of economics … I suspect after the orgy of christmas spending – which will probably break records again, there could be some seriously lean times coming up. And the game industry wont be immune to it – might even be one of the first casualties (after the US car makers).

  • Darrin: This ensures, games like fallout, which shipped MONTHS after trophy support came into place and which came with achievements on Xbox360, doesn’t come without trophies, so this is good for Sony and for us.. So they make it mandatory. Since they make it mandatory for multiplatform, it would not make sense to not make it mandatory for exclusives. Most third parties do multiplatform, and they’ll have achievements anyway.

    Smaller titles can get away with less trophies, as is the case with PSN downloadables, and they can be as simple as finishing a level, if the developer is not keen on finding interesting aspects of gameplay. Also, by making use of trophies, developers can channel players into a certain game mechanic that might go unnoticed if not reminded by a trophy, it can be a gameplay element, it can be a part of a level that has taken a lot of effort for the developers. So it can be nice for developers too..

  • Since the trophy patch I know alot of people who overlook games w/o trophy support. Like Guitar Hero: World Tour vs Rock Band 2. GH:WT hasn’t trophies so people are getting RB2 instead. I’m having fun with GH:WT. I don’t need extra incentives to play a game.