Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In today's article, editor Dom admits his problem with platform-specific trophy systems and how their absence on Nintendo Switch has helped him kick a money-wasting, time-consuming habit. Shame he still wastes his money on tat-filled special editions, though...
Hello. My name's Dom and I'm an addict.
It's not alcohol or other naughty substances that serve as my vice. No, it's something far more addictive. Ever since Xbox 360 launched back in 2005 I've been hooked - nay, enslaved - to the subculture of achievement hunting. When Sony patched in trophy support for PS3 in 2008 I fell even deeper down the hole, desperately looking to increase an arbitrary number or percentage with no tangible value in the real world.
I'm one of those people that paid over the odds to own Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth so I could spend five minutes - five minutes - earning 1,000 gamer points. I'm one of those people who completed Surf's Up, Peter Jackson's King Kong and Lost: Via Domus just so that I could rinse them for all their delicious points. I'd finish a game and feel a wave of satisfaction as the credits rolled, only to look at my achievement count for that game and weep at the meager haul.
My friends and I would race each other to reach the next big milestone in our achievement/trophy counts, with every new game becoming a new source to be mined for those pointless yet satisfying pings on screen. These silly little trinkets became the barometer by which myself, my fellow addicts and every random stranger I met on matchmaking lobbies around the world judged our dedication to a certain game.
I know it's an issue inherent to my personality. It's why I've sunk an ungodly amount of time into Call of Duties over the years - I'd be horrified to know how many times I've prestiged and how many hours I've spent in COD and Halo combined. It's part of who I am as a 'gamer' (I hate that word), but it's something that changed my outlook on games for the worse.
And I'll admit, when Nintendo Switch was revealed in 2016 I was genuinely bummed out to learn there wasn't going to be any form platform-specific trophies. How would I track my progress now without a persistent system running alongside them? But there was also a little voice at the back of my mind, one that had been hushed by all this silly collecting, one that remembered a time where I used to play games for the sheer fun of playing the game itself.
Did I think I'd ever kick the habit? Not really, but my adoration for Nintendo and handheld gaming, in general, ensured Switch was always going to be a day one purchase. Did playing games that appeared on other platforms (with achievements, naturally) bother me when I finished them on Switch? A little, but here and now in 2018 I can finally say I've broken their hold on me.
Well, almost. I still feel that urge to 'platinum' or '100%' a game, but I'm not driven in the same obsessive way I was in years gone by. Having two young children and working in professional media probably helped a little bit, too...
Nintendo Switch has helped me enjoy every nook and cranny of Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It's provided an avenue for me to enjoy myriad indie titles without the spectre of a trophy system colouring my outlook on its final product. It's even helped me enjoy games where I ground away for hundreds of hours to hit certain achievement milestones (hello, Skyrim) in a different way. Like grinding away for hundreds of hours to farm XP.
Switch has genuinely helped me enjoy games for what they are again, but that doesn't mean I'm entirely free of that very acute hunger. With the current OS for Switch, my profile shows a collective playtime for each Switch game and this has fast become the new analogue for gaming dedication. You've clocked how many hours in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? You've spent how long playing Splatoon 2? You've played WWE 2K18 for 500 hours? Okay, no one's claiming the last one, but hours played has now become my new collectible, a ticking clock to sum up just how much I love a certain game.
Some things you just can't fix.
So that's Dom's two cents on the more-ish world of achievements and trophies, but what's your take on the whole business? Be sure to share your thoughts with the Nintendo Life community in the comments section below...