Achievements. Trophies. Stamps. Trading Cards. Call them what you want. Some people love them. Some people hate them, but they’re a part of the gaming culture and they’re here to stay. Xbox, while they weren’t the first, were the ones that popularized the getting of achievements. Those little bubbles that pop up on your screen when you’ve done something a developer thinks is worth pointing out. Microsoft put a score to them and people started collecting them like they were candy. PlayStation added their own version of them with their trophy feature.
For whatever reason people really like achievements. Some people really like seeing their score rise compared to their friends. Some people like using them to determine how much of a game they’ve completed. Some people scour the achievement list and pick out things that look fun or challenging to try an accomplish. There are a number of different reasons why people try to get as many achievements as they can.
Nintendo is sort of the last hold out for a unified, system wide achievement system. Games on Nintendo platforms have had them individually, but nothing that spanned the whole eco-system of Nintendo’s consoles. Many fans have been clamoring for them for years now, but still Nintendo held out. The Wii didn’t have them. Neither the DS nor the 3DS had them. The Wii U has them…sort of. Many first party Nintendo games, and possibly some third party ones allow you to earn stickers by completing objectives in game. These stickers could be used on Miiverse, Nintendo’s online community where players can talk to each other about the games they’re playing. Players could decorate posts, use them in creative ways to make their posts a little more unique. There was no way of tracking them and no one knew how, when or why you earned a particular sticker. Unless you had that game yourself and remembered when you got it there was no way to really tell. There’s no way to tell how far into or how much of a particular game had been explored.
Nintendo over the last year has been trying to really make inroads into the online space. They’ve been trying to make their presence online with their consoles match their competitors. They established a partnership with Japanese mobile company DeNA and are using them to really overhaul their online infrastructure. They are trying to give players more reasons to interact with their games, their online communities and their rewards program.
My Nintendo was established late last year to replace their older, aging loyalty program Club Nintendo. One of the things that this new program does is rewards players for playing games and interacting with Nintendo both in-game and outside of games. You can earn Gold Coins for buying software through the eShop. These Gold Coins give you discounts on other titles, or can even earn you free downloads of software. They also have a way for players to earn Platinum Coins. These coins are earned in various different ways as mentioned.
With the launch of Nintendo’s first mobile “game”, Miitomo, players were able to earn Platinum coins by completing specific actions in the game. By interacting with other players, by answering questions, or even by customizing the appearance of your Mii you could earn coins. These Platinum coins can be used to download My Nintendo exclusive software, other in-game items for your Miis in Miitomo, custom themes for your 3DS or other rewards. The most interesting thing about them was that they were essentially an achievement system, but one that rewarded you more than Microsoft of Sony’s versions did (though Microsoft has done things where you could earn Xbox Live credit for achieving specific thresholds with your achievements).
We’ve only seen one game so far that these Platinum coins are compatible with. Nintendo does have two other titles that they are planning to release on mobile platforms later this year. We’ll see then if this is going to be something Nintendo continues to do with their games or if this was a one-off experience to help garner interest in My Nintendo and Miitomo.
If Nintendo were really smart they would make this a universal thing across their platforms. It’s too late to really do this for 3DS and the Wii U is all but void of upcoming software that could incorporate it. However, the company is planning on releasing a new console next year in the NX. If players link their My Nintendo, Nintendo Network ID and Miiverse to NX this could be a very good way for Nintendo to ensure that people engage with their software and My Nintendo. Achievements were popular when you didn’t get anything other than bragging rights for them. Imagine how players would feel if their hard work playing games is rewarded with the ability to convert those coins into more tangible rewards. Miitomo essentially allows you to earn an unlimited number of Platinum coins. You are limited to the number you can earn each day, but if you play the game every day you can earn new Platinum coins on a very regular basis. They don’t have to do this with every game. They could put a limit on the number of coins any title allows you to earn and I think players would be fine with that. Imagine having 1000 or 2000 coins that can be earned in every first party (and even third party) Nintendo title.
The thing they really have to be aware of is making the rewards you can earn with coins something that players want. Right now it’s mostly limited to themes and clothing for your Mii in Miitomo. That’s a start and those things are needed. People love customizing their Miis to make them look unique. Allowing people to earn coins in any game and use those to get exclusive clothing for your characters is one way to make people excited about Platinum coins. However it can’t just be that. They really need to go along the lines of what Ubisoft has done with uPlay. Right now by playing Ubisoft titles you can earn points that can be used to “buy” exclusive items. These can be in-game currency on titles to upgrade your character. They can be exclusive items that the characters use by redeeming uPlay points. Nintendo needs to make both in-game and out of game rewards for players to earn.
The other thing they have to do is expand it past just first party titles. Right now the games you can purchase with your Gold or Platinum coins are limited to Virtual Console titles and a handful of first-party releases that can be discounted. They need to expand the discounts to all of the eShop or get contracts with specific companies to allow discounts on titles. They need to make very real, very interesting rewards. I understand that they can’t be too substantial. You can’t just give away free stuff to players all the time even if they play every one of your games.
Achievements aren’t going away any time soon and Nintendo has the opportunity to really make their achievement system stand out. I even like them being called coins. I like that those achievements can then be used as currency to give me even more stuff from Nintendo, a company I really love. If achievements are worth something more than just a number on the screen I’d be far more interested in achieving them.