If it hasn't already done so, your PlayStation Trophy level is about to dramatically increase. That's because Sony is deploying an update to the ranking system that sees the former maximum grade of 100 escalate to 999. New Trophy icons will be associated with them and your original level will be modified to fit the new ranking system. And for a lot of people, this probably won't matter very much. They'll go about unlocking Trophies here and there, maybe yearning for the odd Platinum Trophy when they come across a PlayStation 4 game that really takes their fancy. However, what about those who take the system much more seriously?
Brian English of PS5 Trophies certainly fits that description, so we caught up with the Trophy hunter to find out what a professional reckons to this update. Could it have bigger implications that the average player might not pick up on? How else could the Trophy system be improved? And what about the importance of a Platinum Trophy? Let's find out.
On the surface, Brian thinks the new Trophy system sounds great. "I really love the tiered icon system. It encourages you to "level" up in a way that displaying a number can't." However, as for the new levelling system itself, which now stretches up to 999, he doesn't see it as too much of a big deal. "It's just going to feel odd expressing it using three digits. I ran a poll and only 25.8% of people cared most about PSN Trophy level so anything that makes it more appealing to gamers is a great thing and I'm going to keep a close eye on it. More people care about their total platinum count and overall completion percentage than Trophy level."
The other side to this story then is the extra emphasis placed on a Platinum Trophy. Unlocking one will do more for increasing your level than ever before, and it's here where Brian really starts to raise an issue. "My one concern has been the trend over the past few years of certain game publishers directly targeting Trophy hunters for profit. This is a practice of taking any game, sometimes mobile or cheap Steam titles, and porting it over to the PS4 with an extremely simple Platinum Trophy and charging just a few bucks. Oftentimes, these can be completed in, not hours, but minutes."
"These titles don't even require you to advance very far into the game before giving you the Platinum Trophy. To make it even worse, they list the game across multiple regions in hopes that you won't buy the game just once, but you'll buy the same game three times, each with their own unique Platinum Trophy."
Brian wishes to stress that these games do have their place and the aforementioned practice is fine for those who desire the type of experience they offer. But, as he points out, it wasn't all that long ago that PlayStation would deny smaller titles from having a full Trophy list. "Once My Name Is Mayo opened the floodgates to shovelware Platinums, some people started to lose the perceived "value" of Trophies. I demonstrated how broken it was when I Platinumed 50 different games in one day so I was a little taken back when they stated: "Platinum Trophies will count more toward your level progression, making them even more valuable." Bottom line, a 10 minute, $0.99 game made by a single person shouldn't be as valuable as the Red Dead Redemption 2 Platinum. It should be less and definitely not more."
Brian then goes on to say that it feels like the developers of these cheap titles containing an easy Platinum Trophy are being further incentivized if anything. "Those games should still exist, just without the predatory feeling that's associated with them. I could be wrong and maybe there's another layer to this I have yet to see."
As for the future, the professional Trophy hunter hopes Sony further improves the system with real-time statistics. "Similar to those end of the year emails that show off your past year's accomplishments but always available in the Trophy menu. My entire timeline was full of people sharing their Trophy emails. The earned media alone on social media should make this a no brainer." Brian points out, as we too have done in the past, that the likes of PSN Profiles is already using this data from the backend to display statistics to users. Trophy leaderboards is another feature on Brian's wishlist, something which is already available on Xbox One as users compete for the highest Gamerscore.
So, while it sounds like he does have some legitimate concerns, Brian is staying positive about the system update. "I know I sounded sceptical about the blog post but I'm genuinely excited for this. Trophies don't get much love from PlayStation themselves so anytime they talk about them, I get a little extra excited. I look forward to breaking it all down November 12th."
What do you make of Brian English's thoughts? Are you too concerned about the added importance of Platinum Trophies and what it could mean for the games that base their entire meaning around them? Debate away in the comments below.