XBox 360 Achievements – Ruining Online Gaming

I have to admit – I love achievements, I really do. I love that little “blip” when you’ve did something that will increase your gamer score. I have to credit the whole achievement system with actually reigniting my love for video gaming. There’s just something really fun about beating a game, then having it permanently listed beside your username, to show the world that yes, you played Gears of War 2 on insane, and you lived to tell the tale.

I’ve also found Xbox 360 achievements have helped in social settings. I was out with a few people a month ago, and there was one person there I had never met before. The topic of video games came up, and as we both had XBox 360s we swapped gamer tags just for the hell of it. I went out with that same group of people a couple of weeks later, and I spent most of the night just talking to that guy, chatting about the f95zone achievements he had, and that I had. He even asked for advice on how to get a bigger gamer score, as he has a competition going with one of his co-workers.

I promised him next time we go out, I’d bring Avatar with me.

So yeah, I’m a big fan of achievements, and I have a 75k gamer score to prove it. However let’s be honest – the term is “achievements” is just a tad ambiguous. I’d estimate less than 30% of all potential achievements are actual true achievements. Now that’s fine – sure, it’s a bit sad to sit there with a printed off map for 5 hours shooting and killing 200 pigeons just to show the world that you did it – but at least you have something to show for it. It was a lot sadder finding all those hidden parcels to 100% earlier GTA games “just because”.

My only problem – and it’s a big one, is online achievements. Because as the title of this article suggests; they’re ruining online gaming.

The inspiration from this article came when, after a nice dinner, I sat down to chill for an hour and play some Fifa 2010. I find playing against the AI is rather boring, so I like to go online and play people. Now online play can be frustrating at times, especially in sports games when people quit out after they start to lose, but it’s something that I just have to suck up and live with – because that’s the way many online games are.

Achievements have made it a hell of a lot worse.

I started up a game of Fifa 2010, and within seconds of kickoff my opponent got the ball, ran to his own net and scored an own goal, then immediately quit. What? Why did he quit that early? Why did he score an own goal? I assume it was just some sort of internet connection problem or just someone messing around, so I went to play someone else. Seconds into the match, this person got the ball, ran to his own net, scored an own goal and quit on me too! I was wondering if there was problems with XBox Live so I messaged the person and asked. He replied:

“Sorry bro, doing it to get an achievement.”

What? Quitting games seconds in for an achievement? That doesn’t make any sense. So I logged on to the internet to check, and sure enough: there’s an achievement entitled Bad Loser. To get the achievement you have to quit 5 xbox live matches when you are losing.

Seriously, what the hell?

Now this is a 0g achievement – it won’t affect your gamerscore, but it’s still an achievement nonetheless, and you’re always going to have people going for it – people who like to get as many achievements as possible, no matter what they are, what you have to do to get them or what they are worth.