There's a time in your life when you just grow up. That doesn't mean you stop playing video games, of course, but it does mean that, suddenly, the quest to unlock absolutely everything becomes a little less appealing. Real life gets in the way. You suddenly realize you don't have to earn every little achievement. And, while there's much ado about the achievement and trophy systems of the PS4 and Xbox One, they don’t seem to muster as much excitement as the initial announcements of achievements and trophies did in the last generation.
I mean, sure, it's great to know that our achievements and trophies carry over from the PS3 and Xbox 360 to the PS4 and Xbox One. It took both time and effort to get those, and it's comforting to know that the digital record of our past will remain. Still, I don't feel the same fire and drive to earn these marks of achievement. While it would be impossible to offer generalizations on why they may have lost mass appeal, I can give some insight into why I don't care anymore.
To start, I don't have much time for them anymore. When I first bought a PS3, I was enamored with the idea of accolades that I could show off to my friends. I'd do my best to earn these bonuses because it seemed cool. A friend could look at my account and immediately know everything that I'd done. We could see if we'd both done the same thing, and then we’d know when it would or wouldn't be safe to discuss spoilers.
Except, most of my best friends never bother to go online with their PS3 games. They're offline players because they prefer RPGs and other genres that favor the single-player experience. With the exception of a brief excursion into the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, I'm the same. Which means my account has a number of trophies absent from my online profile because the only time I ever bother to log in now is when I want to use Netflix or claim my free PlayStation Plus games.
This means I'm also no longer driven to check the profiles of friends online. When I first got my PS3 and Vita, I was actually looking at my friends list and checking trophies to see if we were playing the same games and achieving the same level of progress. I wanted to know what they were up to, exchange messages with them to talk about the game, and vice versa. Once the novelty wore off, my Internet friends and I stopped checking in and messaging each other via our systems. We just went back to Google Chat or Facebook messages.
You'd think the arrival of the PS4 would make the notion of trophies appealing again, especially since I have a launch unit incoming. Except it doesn't, because I can count on one hand the number of people I know who will also buy the system day one. The only games I plan on getting are the two free PlayStation Plus offerings, and perhaps a copy of Knack. They're planning on grabbing Killzone: Shadow Fall and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, so it isn't like we'll have anything in common.
There's only one thing that makes me think trophies still have some merit, and that's Sony's Greatness Exchange campaign. That's the promotion where people can exchange their gold trophies for entries in various contests. Except, gold trophies aren't terribly difficult to earn. That, combined with how many people have earned these trophies and are probably entering like crazy to win prize packages, makes it seem a little bit hopeless. A nice effort, sure, and of course I'll be entering to win the PlayStation Mystery Box, but I know there's no way I'll win.
I suppose it could be a case of trophy and achievement burnout. After all, the Xbox One will tie some bonus game content to achievements, and if Sony's Greatness Exchange program goes well, we could see more rewards in exchange for virtual accolades. Yet somehow, the idea of earning these digital merit badges isn't as appealing anymore, and the promise of rewards for my efforts just makes the idea of earning them feel more like work than a happy side effect of regular game enjoyment. Perhaps I'm getting old. (I did just celebrate my 31st birthday on Saturday.) Trophies and achievements just don't have the allure that they used to.