I’ve never been what some would affectionately label a Trophy whore, but they have utterly captivated me for well over a decade now. I earned my first PlayStation gong in Super Stardust HD the day Sony rolled out the feature; my first Platinum was Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the first game to feature the now-iconic silvery-blue pot. In the years since I’ve amassed a cabinet that’s now approaching 20,000 Trophies; I’m level 616.
Honestly, I think I’m over it, though.
I’ve never been the type to force myself to unlock aggressively difficult Trophies: I don’t have the time or the patience. In the early days of Push Square, when we were a much smaller team, I had to keep bouncing from game to game, because frankly I was responsible for a lot of the verdicts. That meant I couldn’t waste hours upon hours replaying games on Ultra Impossible Difficulty just to get a Platinum, and that’s probably why my total sits at a modest 149 of the top pots.
But I always looked. Whenever I started a new game, the first thing I’d do is browse the list of trinkets in order to make a mental note of what was required when I finally got stuck in. It was a habit of mine; I knew I probably wasn’t going to get the Platinum nine-out-of-ten times, but I was going to make damn sure I unlocked as many as possible. I’ve spent much of my modern gaming career having more Trophies than my peers, and I never thought I’d throw in the towel.
It’s now 2021, though, and I think my obsession with Trophies has diminished as my gaming habits have changed. I was the kind of player that used to play everything, getting to the credits and then shelving one title for another. But lately I’ve found more enjoyment sticking with a select number of games and extracting every last dreg of entertainment from them. I’ve crossed 100 hours with more titles this year than I ever have in the past.
A lot of this is down to the way the industry has evolved: games are built to be supported long beyond launch day now, with enormous post-release plans even expanding to single player series, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. When I was growing up, and even earlier in my career at Push Square, a game was designed to be played day one and then you either replayed it or you put it on eBay. That’s just not the case anymore.
Many would argue that I’m probably wasting my time pouring hours into the likes of Grand Theft Auto 5 or Train Sim World 2, two titles that couldn’t be more different but appeal to my various moods. But for me, I feel a kind of comfort in these games; there’s usually something new to discover and explore each time I revisit them, and I’m still getting a lot of fun out of them. You could add this year’s selection of sports games to that list, all of which I play weekly.
And I suppose it’s this that’s contributed to my lack of interest in Trophies of late: I’m obviously not earning many by spending my 200th hour in Los Santos. Don’t get me wrong: I do still like collecting the trinkets, and I still get the dopamine rush when I hear that iconic jingle, but I don’t feel beholden to them anymore. There was a period where I felt like there was little value in playing games when I wasn’t earning Trophies; I’ve put all of that aside.
I’m still a bit conflicted, because I still feel it’s my job to play as much as possible, and to see as much of what PlayStation has to offer as I can. How can I inform others – heck, how can I even vote for Game of the Year without playing absolutely everything? But I’d argue that I’m much more knowledgeable now about certain franchises and specific genres than I’ve ever been, and in an era where games are constantly evolving and changing on a weekly basis, there’s value in that as well.
Maybe it’s just a phase, but Trophies aren’t the lure they once were to me: I have so many already in my virtual cabinet, what difference does one more make? It sounds ridiculous, but there’s a freedom to letting go: I can play what I want, when I want – guilt free.
Will there be thousands more Trophies in my future? Undoubtedly. Will I have a cheeky glance at a game’s list before I get stuck in? I probably will. But you know what, I think I’m finally okay with playing whatever I want regardless of whether I’ll earn any trinkets in the process. Gaming has always been my preferred pastime, and they’ve been intertwined with my work for a decade now – but at least I can finally enjoy them without the niggling thought in the back of my mind asking how many Trophies I’ll earn tonight.
What’s your relationship with Trophies like in 2021? Are you still captivated by collecting them, or have you felt your obsession wane? Are you the kind of person that’s never really bothered with the pots to begin with? Collect all 1,000 widgets in the comments section below.