Achievements are a staple of gaming these days. Since Microsoft popularized the concept with the XBox 360, most gaming platforms have a centralized achievement bank. Even mobile games – Apple’s GameCenter launched with achievements in 2010 (though not the first achievement platform on iOS), and Google announced Google Play Games in May 2013.
Achievements can bring a whole different angle of entertainment to a game, and add to its longevity. But only if your achievements aren’t terrible. Steve Bromley’s Games User Research blog lists 5 achievement sins, though I’m only going to talk about one type – when achievements are so epic, they jump the shark. I have three examples of iOS-translated board games that have achievements geared toward serious players only.
The first installment in Electronic Arts’ Burnout series was way back in 2001 for the PS2 and original XBox. While a lot has changed over the years, the takeaway of the franchise remains the same: drive fast and blow stuff up, a lot. In the latest iteration, Burnout CRASH! distills this formula to an incredibly simple form, and racing is nowhere to be found – just blowing stuff up. I was super excited to see the game released on iOS because it’s exactly the type of quick and simple game I want to play on my iPad.
Earning in-game achievements (represented here by stars) allows players to unlock more content. Each track in the game features five different stars, and when a player meets a specified number of stars, more content appears. So collecting stars is definitely the driving force for players to progress. Here’s the rub: considering how important they are, Burnout CRASH! doesn’t do enough to show players what stars they have left to achieve.