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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?