Friday, 24 May 2024

Achievement Do’s and Don’ts

Defeating an end boss or recording a high score is no longer the end game — the landscape of gaming has changed. Many gamers spend hours behind the controller in pursuit of a higher gamerscore, towering trophy counts, and the prestige that comes with earning unique in-game rewards. Though the idea of rewarding gamers for their exploits isn’t new, many games still suffer from misguided or poorly developed achievements. When done right, achievements can greatly enhance a game and give developers another tool to keep players coming back. When done wrong, achievements can spoil an ending, ruin a multiplayer experience, and make players abandon a game in favor of a more rewarding title.

The Dos of Achievements

Use achievements to enhance the gameplay experience

Use achievements to lure players into checking out a game’s entire feature set. Games like Burnout Paradise and Gears of War 2 are perfect examples. With dedicated achievement sets for each mode, these games effectively use achievements as a guided tour to new gameplay innovations.

Track and celebrate player progress

Chart the player’s progress toward unlocking achievements. Players should be able to track how close they are to reaching a milestone achievement, such as 500 headshots. This helps create a sense of accomplishment and motivates players to keep playing.

Encourage players to return to the game

Create achievements that encourage gamers to return to your game. For example, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway hands out an achievement to players who play the game once a week for three months. This can help build a strong community and keep players engaged over time.

Lead players through the campaign with incremental achievements

Implement achievements that lead players through your campaign. This is especially important for story-driven games where you want players to see the resolution. The enticement of another 100 points can be the extra incentive needed for players who might otherwise turn their attention elsewhere.

Unlock bonus achievements after game completion

Implement achievements that are unlocked after the completion of the game. If handled correctly, these bonus achievements can increase the replay value. Having achievements like “finish a level using only melee” and “insert your punter into the quarterback position” shouldn’t be available from the outset, as they force players to play the game in strange ways.

Base gamerscore point totals on a game’s content

Gamerscore point totals should be based on a game’s content, not disc versus digital distribution. Limiting a game like Puzzle Quest, which can suck away hundreds of hours of your life, to just 200 points is a travesty. Conversely, a game like Scene It!, which can be completed in a few hours, shouldn’t have anywhere near the max.

Reward players for challenging themselves

Reward players for challenging themselves in the game. For example, if players beat Rock Band’s career mode on Expert, they should also get the achievements for beating the game on the lesser difficulty levels. This encourages players to push their limits and achieve mastery.

Tailor achievements to reflect how people play the game

Weigh achievement points to properly reflect how people play your game. If it’s a multiplayer-heavy game, then make most of the achievements unlockable through competition. If you have a story-driven game, reward players for experiencing the story. Align the achievements with the way players engage with your game.

Ensure achievements back up the time investment

Make sure the achievements back up the time investment required from players. If players can sink 80 hours into NHL 09’s Be A Pro mode, make sure there is a commensurate amount of achievement/points to go along with it. Consider providing rewards or points at regular intervals to keep players motivated and engaged.

The Don’ts of Achievements

Avoid forcing players to play the game in unnatural ways

Don’t force players to play a game in an unnatural way to get achievements. Achievements that dramatically change gameplay in fundamentally strange ways can disrupt the game experience and frustrate players. Keep achievements aligned with the core gameplay mechanics.

Avoid excessively time-consuming achievements

Avoid achievements that require an excessive amount of time. Achievements like killing 100,000 enemies or playing in 10,000 online matches can be discouraging and feel like a grind. If including time-consuming achievements, consider making them worth a substantial amount of gamerscore points.

Don’t make achievements dependent on higher difficulties

Avoid making the majority of your achievements dependent upon higher difficulties. While rewarding hardcore players with extra achievement points is a noble gesture, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the majority of gamers or the default setting. Balance the difficulty and accessibility of achievements.

Avoid farm-worthy multiplayer achievements

Avoid creating achievements that encourage individual glory over team goals in multiplayer. While total kill counts work for deathmatch, they can take away from the spirit of competition and lead to players abandoning team objectives. Create multiplayer achievements that align with individual modes rather than the entire multiplayer experience.

Don’t reveal major plot points in achievement text

Avoid revealing major plots in the achievement text. Keep the achievement descriptions focused on the task or objective without giving away significant story elements. Use secrecy or cryptic descriptions for achievements related to important narrative moments.

Don’t obstruct important on-screen text with achievement messages

Avoid having the “achievement unlocked” message appear over important on-screen text. Developers should have the ability to position achievement and trophy messages in a way that doesn’t interfere with the game’s UI or critical information. Ensure that achievement messages are displayed in a clear and unobtrusive manner.

Keep achievements from spoiling the game ending

Don’t have the achievement message reveal the game’s completion until the credits roll. Keep the surprise and immersion intact by avoiding spoilers during cinematic moments. Preserve the sense of accomplishment until the appropriate time.

Avoid revealing major plots in achievement text

Don’t reveal significant plot details in achievement text. Microsoft and Sony provide systems for developers to create “secret” achievements, so take advantage of this feature. Focus on using concise and generic descriptions that don’t give away key story elements.

Don’t overload the game with impossible or boast-worthy achievements

Avoid making all achievements boast-worthy or impossible challenges. While a few impressive achievements are fine, going overboard can discourage many players and create an unattainable completionist goal. Seek a balance between challenging and attainable achievements.

Don’t require excessive time investment without sufficient content

Avoid requiring players to spend a specific amount of time with your game unless you have enough content to support it. Requiring unreasonable amounts of time, such as playing for 24 hours straight, can discourage players and feel like a tedious task. Ensure that the time investment is justified by meaningful content and gameplay experiences.

Avoid adding multiplayer achievements as an afterthought

Don’t create multiplayer achievements if multiplayer is an afterthought in your game. If you only have a few people working on a multiplayer component and it’s not a central focus, save all of your achievements for single-player and the content that truly matters. Ensure that achievements align with the core experience of the game.


Q: Can achievements be added to a game post-launch?

A: Yes, achievements can be added to a game post-launch through updates or downloadable content. This allows developers to continue engaging players and expanding the game’s achievement system.

Q: Can achievements be earned in offline mode?

A: Yes, achievements can be earned in offline mode as long as the game supports offline play. Players can still unlock achievements and earn gamerscore even without an internet connection.

Q: Do achievements carry over to different platforms or versions of a game?

A: Achievements are generally specific to each platform or version of a game. Players will need to earn achievements separately if they switch platforms or play different versions of the same game.


Achievements have become an integral part of the gaming experience, offering players additional challenges, rewards, and a sense of accomplishment. When implemented well, achievements can enhance the gameplay and keep players engaged over the long term. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this article, developers can create compelling and rewarding achievement systems that resonate with players and contribute to the overall success of their games. For more information about achievements and gaming, visit Wqaindia.