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Editorial: Locally saved achievements are better

Loading Indie

This article is an editorial, and it represents the sole opinion of the author. It does not reflect Loading Indie’s thoughts as a whole.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has popularized achievements as a concept. They have spread like fire across games and there is an increasing demand for them. Even retro games are getting unofficial achievements through select emulators and the likes. However, I don’t like how achievements are almost always tied to a third-party account, rather than bound to save files in a game.

When a game stores its achievements locally to a save file, or at least in the game’s data, I can replay that game in the future and hunt the same achievements again. It makes even more sense when the achievements are more along the lines of “win this mode” like the ones you earn for winning cups in Slipstream.

That's harsh.
That’s harsh.

Achievements tied to a third-party account are a problem. Removing them from an account is either not possible (at least on GOG Galaxy) or bound to all your game data, including progress and possibly cloud saves (like Google Play Games).

Binding achievements to a third-party service can also induce lock-in to said service. For example, some games implement achievements on Steam, but the same game on GOG may not have them. If a developer chooses to implement an in-game interface for the achievements, the service lock-in issue is reduced. Even if they don’t implement achievements in a specific service, they will still be available in-game.

Top: in-game achievement interface for Retro City Rampage DX. Bottom: Google Play Games' interface for the game.
Top: in-game achievement interface for Retro City Rampage DX when Google Play Games is disabled. Bottom: Google Play Games’ interface for the game.

Possible solution

A particularly noteworthy example is Retro City Rampage DX on Android. If Google Play Games is not installed, you will see the game’s own achievement interface. Otherwise, you will see the Play Games achievement interface instead. This avoids the replay-ability and lock-in problems.

I would love it if more developers had an in-game achievement interface rather than relegate the functionality entirely to third party services and clients.

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