Tears of the Trophy Hunter: Nintendo’s Lack of an Achievement System is Still a Major Disappointment

It's time for Nintendo to add achievements

When it comes to current-gen gaming, the Nintendo Switch has a very strong case for being the champion of the so-called “console war.” Even though its graphical performance may not quite reach the optimum heights of the industry, the Switch is the most versatile console on the market, has the highest rated exclusives for any gaming platform, and features a more affordable, yet equally impressive subscription service as PlayStation and Xbox.

However, despite the Switch’s undeniable greatness and the incredible era of gaming it has provided in the six years since its launch, Nintendo’s current console has one massive flaw: no trophies or achievements. While this may seem like a minor oversight to some, for myself and the many thousands of achievement-hunting gamers, it is a disappointing and possibly deal-breaking problem. Let’s examine this issue of the Switch’s lack of achievements and break down exactly why Nintendo’s omission is such a huge mistake.

Trophies/Achievements Explained

Screenshot by Prima Games

Before we continue, it is important to define what exactly achievement hunting is, for those who may not be familiar with the concept. Surprisingly, the topic is actually somewhat difficult to explain, but the simplest way to describe it is that trophies and achievements are digital awards for completing specific challenges in a videogame. These virtual rewards are linked to players’ gaming profiles and are acquired through in-game accomplishments, found in curated lists created by the developers.

To go more in-depth, achievement challenges come in a wide variety, ranging from completing the first story mission to beating an entire game on the hardest difficulty without dying once, and everything in between. PlayStation has “trophies,” while Xbox, Steam, Epic Games, etc. have “achievements.” If you manage to earn every trophy/achievement in a game, various accolades are rewarded to you, depending on your gaming platform of choice, (i.e. PlayStation’s Platinum trophy, Xbox’s 1,000 Gamerscore, etc.). Now, if you are still awake after my long-winded explanation, let’s examine why achievement hunting is so popular in modern gaming.

What’s So Great About Achievement Hunting Anyway?

Screenshot by Prima Games

Even though achievement hunting is a relatively new concept (coming to prominence in the mid-late 2000s on the Xbox 360, followed by the PlayStation 3), it has forever changed the world of gaming in the short time since its arrival. What started as a gaming niche has morphed into a full-fledged community with tens of thousands of hunters across various platforms and generations. Today, developers even create games specifically to appeal to the achievement hunter market segment, meaning that trophy hunting is basically its own game genre now.

There are many reasons why a certain subsegment of gamers (like me) have become obsessed with trophies and achievements, which vary greatly between individuals. Some are driven by the obsessive-compulsive need to 100% finish games, while many enjoy the sense of accomplishment from overcoming a challenge, and others are drawn in by the desire to show off their elite gaming skills by compiling an achievement collection. However, there are plenty more reasons that gamers such as myself love trophy hunting, far too numerous to name (and all of which should definitely be studied and diagnosed by the world’s top psychologists and psychiatrists).

While any of those reasons certainly could apply to me, I find my personal predilection for achievement hunting to be less complex. The reason I love trophies and achievements is simple: they make gaming even more fun than it already is. Videogames, in my humble opinion, are the greatest entertainment medium ever bestowed upon humanity, and achievement-hunting somehow manages to enhance that experience. For me, achievements are like “the game within a game.” On top of the escapism provided by video games, a great trophy list supplies the roadmap to witnessing everything a game has to offer, testing your skills, knowledge, and truly helps buyers get their money’s worth out of the experience. Along with all of that, trophies and achievements reward your hard work with a shiny memento to add to your collection, giving tangible proof of your gaming labor. There’s no other way to describe it, trophy hunting is like the cherry on top of the delicious gaming sundae.

Related: Best PlayStation Games to Earn an Easy Platinum Trophy In

No Trophies, No Service!

Screenshot by Prima Games

Don’t get me wrong, Nintendo is amazing, and the Switch is arguably worth its weight in gold. From the console’s hailed modern exclusives to the retro classics accessible through the Online + Expansion Pack subscription, the Switch will undoubtedly stand the test of time as one of the greatest consoles ever conceived.

However, despite this truth, when it comes to multiplatform games, I will always choose PlayStation, Xbox, or PC over Nintendo’s consoles because they have achievements, while the Switch does not. Simply, why should I spend the same amount of money on a product with fewer features?

Related: PlayStation Trophy Tips: How to Become a Successful Trophy Hunter

Nintendo is Leaving Money on the Table

Screenshot by Prima Games

When achievement hunting has been previously discussed online in various gaming forums and social media, I have noticed negativity emanating from some non-achievement hunters (the trophyless, if you will). I have witnessed chatter disparaging achievement hunters as “fake gamers,” with insinuations that trophies are a meaningless waste of time. Maybe all of that is true, but we achievement hunters are a proud people, and there are two things about us that simply can’t be ignored. First (wiping tears streaming from my eyes), we have feelings, which get hurt when people call us fake gamers! Secondly, we have money and will vote with our wallets (or purses!). Achievement hunters will play games on platforms that cater to our gaming interests, and we will ignore those that do not.

Ultimately, the lack of achievements is inhibiting the Switch’s overall revenue potential. Although this may seem like a drop in the bucket for a multinational corporation like Nintendo, the Switch not including achievements is a missed revenue opportunity. In the world of business, every dollar counts, and Nintendo is passing on an easy money opportunity by not even bothering to compete.

How Nintendo Can Win Over Achievement Hunters

Screenshot by Prima Games

Although it may be too late to add trophies to the Switch, Nintendo’s next console (the rumored Nintendo Switch 2) must include an achievement system. It would be a win-win for gamers and Nintendo, and there is no logical reason against it. If you happen to be one of the trophyless, who don’t like achievement hunting and want to keep it off of Nintendo consoles, to quote Bob Dylan, “your old road is rapidly aging, please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the Nintendo Switch is a changing,” (Ok, I might have slightly changed the last part).

However, I personally hope that the Switch 2 does not merely repeat what other platforms have done with trophies/achievements, but instead develops an entirely new system that outshines them all. With so many impressive, exclusive IPs such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Pokémon, and more, Nintendo undeniably has the ingenuity and track record to revolutionize gaming, just as it has so many times before.

About the Author

Grant Testa

Grant Testa is a writer at Prima Games, who specializes in achievement hunting and horror gaming. He is also an avid comic book reader/collector, fantasy footballer, and rock music fanatic. Thousands who have been defeated by Grant in online multiplayer games have cried to themselves, wondering, "How did he get so good?! Why can't I be a gaming demigod like him?" They would probably be surprised to learn that Grant actually inherited his elite gaming skills from his mom, Joann Hansen, one of the speediest stenographers/typists in the nation, (and probably the world). Fun fact: he is also the son of the world’s first “let’s player” and comedy legend, Tim Testa.