One of the most notable standards that were introduced to gaming during the rise of online play was trophies and achievements. Pioneered by Xbox, this feature paved the way for systems that reward and recognize player accomplishments in games.
Today, they’re part of almost every major gaming platform, with few exceptions, such as the Nintendo Switch.
Trophies are an alternative term for achievements, primarily used on Sony’s PlayStation consoles. PSN Trophies have been integral to every iteration of the Japanese tech giant’s gaming device family since the PS3.
Like Xbox Achievements, these Trophies are digital badges that unlock whenever you accomplish something specific in a game. Activities that unlock them can range from simple tasks such as completing a title’s tutorial to brutal in-game challenges such as finding and defeating a secret boss.
As Trophies and Achievements are baked into their respective console’s ecosystem, they’re also a part of your profile. Through this, you can easily showcase your video game accomplishments to your friends and on social media.
Beyond the bragging rights, there’s very little else you can gain from Trophies. Microsoft, on the other hand, has tied its Achievements to Microsoft Rewards. Each time you unlock one, you gain a few Reward Points which can then be exchanged for a limited number of items on the Microsoft Store.
Consoles aren’t the only gaming devices that have this feature.
The ability to earn badges for accomplishing goals in PC games exists, but it’s not called Trophies. The most popular version is that found on Steam and they’re called Steam Achievements.
Just like their under-the-TV counterparts, PC games bought from the Steam store are instantly tied to the Achievements system so long as the developer has set them up, which is typically the case. Each time you complete a specified goal, such as defeating a certain number of enemies, finding secrets, and completing challenges, you unlock Steam Achievements. In turn, these become a part of your profile on the platform. Through a system called Showcase, you can even select which achievements you want to put on display on your profile.
Steam isn’t the only PC gaming platform with achievements.
Over the years, several of Steam’s rivals have implemented some form of achievements/trophies on their platforms. These include the following:
- Epic Games Achievements – They’re tied to the account progression system for more bragging rights. Few games support them, though.
- GOG Achievements – They’re supported by a larger number of games compared to Epic Games. Can also import achievements from other platforms.
- Ubisoft Connect Challenges & Actions – Completing challenges and achievements in a game translate to what Ubisoft calls Actions. These grant you Ubisoft Connect Units which can then be traded for rewards, such as in-game add-ons.
Unfortunately, the Trophy system is tied directly to the PlayStation Network. This can only be accessed through Sony consoles, meaning that Trophies can only be unlocked by playing on their devices.
Even if a PC game is developed by a Sony studio, such as Marvel’s Spider-Man and God of War, it will only earn achievements for the platform it was bought on. For example, if you purchase Horizon Zero Dawn on Steam, then you’ll only earn Steam Achievements when playing.
At the moment, there’s no known way to transfer achievements between platforms.
The value of trophies and achievements in PC games largely depends on your perspective. Most achievement systems don’t offer physical or tangible rewards for accomplishing tough tasks in games. Some, like Ubisoft Connect, have baked a reward system into their achievements. However, these are often limited to digital content that can’t be monetized.
Achievement hunting is primarily a bragging rights endeavor. Your chosen PC gaming platform’s trophies are a way to show your friends and social media followers how great you are at video games, which you may find to be valuable.
A lot of content creators and streamers have also made big careers out of completing tough achievements in certain games. A common theme for such content is to pick from a list of achievements that are considerably harder for most gamers to unlock and complete them live on Twitch or by recording the accomplishment for YouTube.