Gearbox: Easy Achievements Means Extra Sales

Dan Webb

Speaking to OXM in the UK, Gearbox head honcho, Randy Pitchford, stated that easy achievements can increase a triple-A game's sales by up to 40,000.

Pitchford stated, "the achievement hunter, who's going to make purchase decisions around the achievements per minute ratio - he's probably buying ten to twenty titles a year, or at least playing that many." He continued, "he's playing a lot. So he's a very frequent customer, and you want to be in that pile. That's just business."

"The time it takes is minimal, because you're designing achievements anyway, and you can probably affect your sales by something like 10 and 40 thousand units. If you're talking about a triple-A game selling between 1 and 2.5 million units. You're talking tens of thousands of units of impact there."
"Unfortunately most people in the industry don't think through it that much. You have designers designing achievements, and they're the worst," said Pitchford, something that I think we all can agree with.

It's no surprise to find Pitchford talking about achievements with such a passion after he expressed his love for them when we interview him last year.

It's interesting to see him using the terminology "achievements per minute" though, as the quicker the list, the more likely it is to encourage a rental. However, that being said, Gearbox aren't really known for easy achievement lists, so maybe he's talking about finding that right balance. Maybe he means... make them attainable, like the Borderlands list seems, but not impossible.

Either way, the more achievement talk in the industry means the more people will take it seriously. I mean, it's only been just under 4 years...


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  • Awesome. Glad to see that they are paying more attention to achievements
  • Well they are correct tbh it does satisfy the majority but not necessary us all.
  • Nice to see that they FINALLY caught on to it. xD
  • Interesting but frankly, a game could have an absolute KILLER achievement list but as long as I like the actual game, I'll buy it. I mean, achievements are simply "Nice, I got this game. Oh cool these seem like easy achievements." not the other way around. I'd get games like Borderlands even if it had no achievements!
  • Gearbox...they made Brother in Arms, no? Those achievements were beyond horrible, especially the play x amount of days in a row, with what? One being playing the game for 100 days straight, or was it even more? That combined with the failure rate for Xbox 360 consoles back then was a match made in hell. XD
  • I dont ever buy games or even rent games just to get easy achievements but I do avoid games with stupidly hard achievements. Part of the enjoyment of a game for me is getting the achievements and if I know for certain I cant get half the list that kills the enjoyment of a game for me. It is nice to see that at least a few companies are paying attention to stuff like that
  • I find it sad that an Achievement list can sell a game. I rent "Achievement Games", but would never buy. ... And I get my rentals for free. (Yay for girlfriend who works at video store)
  • Easy achievement games sell... but are traded in when completed. 4/5 of sold games are back in the shops as preowned. Examples; King Kong and other film based games and possibley Avatar
  • Especially Avatar. 1000 points in 3 minutes? Pathetic.
  • Or do they mean "Extra Rentals"?
  • I wouldn't mind buying a game that has excellent gameplay with a nice set of offline achievements. But as far as the gaming industry is concerned, nice to see some developers are paying attention. CAPCOM, Take note.
  • I bet avatar have made more money than they ever thought they would from the achievements.
  • Achievements imo is not what sells games. I have been working for a game store for about 3 years now (can't say the name of the store or I could get fired) and people don't come in buying new games for the achievements. People come in and buy games they like and what people like is stuff like Assassin's Creed, Bioshock, Madden, NBA, Halo series, Call of Duty's, and so on. If one of them has easy achievements then so be it but they still buy it because they enjoy it. I rent games that I wouldnt normally play to get achievements. I don't buy games that I don't like.
  • For me, easy achievements means a rental, not a purchase. If achievements are multiplayer based or hard to obtain, then I will buy it so I can keep my Gamefly queue going. Honestly though, I miss when games were FUN and I wasn't worried about getting achievements. The could get rid of them and it would be fine with me. Until then though, I'll just keep hunting!
  • @ 5. damn right there! even if the list was insane to get, or none existent, a good game is a good game for a reason, and its got nothing to do with the achievements. even though it is good to see achievements pop up when you get them, I'm still persuaded to get a game based on the game itself, rather than how easy the achievements are for it. even though i really like the achievement system, its a shame that some people only buy games just for easy achievements.
  • #6 Brothers in arms came out just last october. They just had the one that you could only get for playing it on a certain day last month. Yeah the playing it a hundred days in a row kinda sucks. You need to make sure you're going to be able to access your 360 every day for over 3 months. I have a vacation coming in january so I can't even attempt it until then.
  • As for most people trading in easy chieve games, that's not necessarily true. The more popular games get traded in more often just because there are more in circulation. Avatar is the example to prove this, not even every gamestop has a copy of that game used. Meanwhile L4D is a killer 1000/1000 and my store alone has like 900 copies. (exaggeration) Borderlands looks like a Fallout3 list. Attainable achievements that are going to take you a while but you have fun along the way. No massive grinds like Gears2.
  • God bless them.
  • They're onto to something, but a good game itself over easy achievements should sell more than 40,000 copies.
  • I enjoy achievements as much as the next guy, but they don't neccesarilly affect my purchase of games. I buy the game I know I'll like.
  • #5 I feel the exact same way about achievements. I buy games I like, and if the achievements are attainable I'll grab them along the way and maybe try for 1000/1000.
  • Only achievements that put me off games is MP ones, basically because 95% of games with MP achievements have there online modes tacked on and are shite. Even then if its a game i still really want to play i'll still get it anyhow.
  • Yea maybe some company's will look at this and make their games have attainable achievements, I'm looking at you EA!
  • @12 you forgot EPIC lol. :P But yeah this is certainly a game that I can say i'll buy regardless of the achievements. Looks awesome.
  • I don't really buy games based on achievements in this way. Like Ac2, ME2, MW2 etc I was buying even if they only had 1 achievement that was actually impossible to get. That said, for a game I'm tempted to get... especially dirt cheap ones... it does sway me a little. I only bought Tomb Raider legend because I saw it, thought it looked cool then found out the achievements were an easy 1000. From that I discovered that I really liked the Tomb Raider games. So I can see where they are coming from. Hell, as long as they stop putting online only achievements in games. I only really like COD4 online so it's kinda irritating when they put them in. Anyway, the dude is correct. good for him. If they get another 10,000 sales (or more) then it makes perfect sense.
  • An achievement list would not effect my choice of game but i do like to play a large amount of games, easy achievements are nice, but hard earned one my favourite, i would take 1000 in DMC over 10,000 in easy games any day. I do hate the fact that a high score tends to make people pissy and accuse you of cheating, if you're not into gamerscore thats fine, but if you are and someone beats you dont get pissy and start badmouthing them to everyone, thats just petty. (that was directed at someone)!
  • If this guy's logic were true, Avatar would be the best selling game of all-time, and Gears of War would have been a financial flop. Achievements are a factor, but not nearly as much as this guy thinks.
  • Easy achievements make people buy the games. Quick question: How many people do you think own a copy of Hannah Montana or My Horse and Me 2 for the PC? Right. Achievements make people buy more games, easy achievements make people buy even more games. I don't mind hard or easy achievements as long as the games are good.
  • eh gone are the days of true gaming when people played a game for the game and that was just fine. It looks like the true gamers are a rare breed with all this "bad achievements=no buy" attitude. Im an achievement whore, but ill never pass up a good game just because i dont like the achievements.
  • if that~was true i wouldnt have bought star ocean the last hope, still working on battle trophies though
  • I think what Randy is saying if a game has good achievements that don't require mind numbing grinding or doing something that is pure luck then it could boost sales. We've seen it a lot on this site. People saying they won't get a game because the list is too hard or just sucks. Simply put, Borderlands will be GOTY across the board including the achievements.
  • @ #6 & #17 Did you guys not know that there's a cheap ass way of getting the play 100 days ach in the space of 2-3 hrs. Obviously your not forum go'es or guide uses. For me BIA: HH was a breeze for me mainly because i started playing it last month around Sept 17th and i did the afomentioned trick for the 100 days played. But it makes sence too me now since all the SP achievements could be done in one play through with no diffculty ach on top and that all the MP ach where all 0 pointers so we didn't have to do them. My prise now goes to Randy Pitchford as our new Achievement God for he understands our True Needs and Accomplishments. All hale the King. Wait a sec... Does this mean the Aliens: CM is going to have easy achievements?
  • i thought oblivion by far has the best achievement list
  • wow... this is completely wrong in my opinion. gamerscore is irrelevant in my opinion, but rather what games do you have the gamerscore from... Mass effect had hard achievements that took forever, I bought it and its by far my favorite game... orange box has 99 achievements, and that game was amazing, and therefore it did well in sale etc.... I dont believe in this, people buy games because of the game, not achievement... if your achievement hunting, then your renting games
  • I like games where most all the achievements are obtainable fairly easily after some time is put into the game. If I play a game for more than a year, and still only have
  • Somehow it got cut off. To finish... ...less than 200 or so points I consider the achievements to be bad. But I also hate the games where the achievements are simply Do A, Do B, Do C, bam 900+ points.
  • it makes sense. if you're working with bad material or the company knows the game's gonna tank, make easy achievements. you're bound to pull in a larger demographic; those that are interested in the title and those that want to boost their GS.
  • If the achievements are very easy that makes it a rental for me. I buy games for their story and replay not for achievements but they do help. I enjoy a challenge. Just stop making crazy achievements that will just be boosted for; 100,000 kills. I think overall the achievements are good the way they are almost except for the ones that are unachieveable unless boosting or take months of game play to achieve. I do agree though if the achievements are super hard i wouldn't want to play it on my main profile and probably wouldn't buy it nor rent it. There should be a balance of the achievements easy med and hard. That way u keep playing the game to get the hard ones but u feel like u are getting somewhere as u are progressing. You're not left with 2-3 achievements that require way too m
  • If I want a game and the achievements get released, and theyre incredibly easy. Its an added bonus that will make me confirm my purchase. So yes it HELPS. But if a game sucks balls and costs more than 10 bucks than its a no
  • I never base a game off of achievements in the first place, so weather or not the achievements are easy or hard, i'm gonna buy the game for the game. Seriously, there great and all but not all that needed. Rather pay $60 for a great game then a game that lasts long enough to obtain 30 achievements in 10 minutes.
  • I never buy games for achievements. Me and everyone I know with a 360 rents games with easy achievements.
  • Nice! Honestly, though, I'd rather have interesting achievements that prove they had some thought behind them than just cut-and-paste easiness. Sure, I'll take my Bionicle/TMNTs every now and then for a quick fix, but I like it when I'm rewarded for fun things off the beaten path, or when an achievement gives me some in-game goodies, like with GoW2 and Soul Calibur 4. And fun capture text and names can even real me in! I love showing off my few Legendary achievements just to say, "Look! I died funny and got this one!" and "So I fought a possessed vending machine... epic!". And the "Fable 2"s and "Eat Lead"s are always a good laugh when there's a commentary that's added once I unlock it. THAT'S what I'd rather see, personally. Not just a quick 1000 points.
  • Randy Pitchford is my hero. His office is so awesome. I have not been there but Giant Bomb has a video on their site showing his office. I love how he is so in love with Borderlands because it makes me love it as well.
  • ^.^
  • They should rename the whole achievement system now if most games start coming with easy achievements. An achievement is something earned through skill or perseverance. I guess all the whiney, cry babies complaining to the developers about their completion % and hard achievements have finally made the system worthless IMO. Really what is the point if everyone can easily get 1000gs in a game, does it really make everyone say "YES!!! 1000gs in Avatar or Fight Night 3" when it wasn't a challenge at all and everyone else has it. I like a good challenge and earning achievements, when they just give them out to anyone who plays the game, its not an achievement. I guess thats todays mentality, I WANT IT NOW, SCREW HAVING TO PUT TIME OR EFFORT INTO DOING SOMETHING. This is very bad news imo for ga
  • This is very bad news for gaming, when developers know they can produce a subpar game but boost sales with easy achievements.
  • Actually it does boost a game on the margins, i have no problem trying something i see used for 6.99 if it has easy achievements, were i might just stick to A list games normally. PS: As to extra sales/value, Avatar is holding steady at $12.99 at Gamestop, while dozens of similar games are at 7.99 and below, and i doubt it is because of its vastly superior, compelling and deep gameplay ;)
  • For me, achievements fall into two categories. Bulk and skill. I like having achievements that are difficult to get and unboostable (Fear's Instant Action on Extreme, jesus christ). However, most people don't even read each other's achievement lists unless you have 50,000+ gamerscore, meaning you need to reel people in then present them with your abilities as they scan your completion ratios.
  • Achievements don't sell games, good games sell themselves. Although I wholeheartedly agree that developers should take achievements seriously for the good of those who would like to take the time to get 100% completion, since there are people like me that think it is fun to try to unlock all of the achievements in my games.
  • Plus, there's only like 7-8 GREAT games per year.. and people need something to stay focused on between the releases of those games. Achievements will never override a great game though. I'd rather have Resident Evil Outbreak on the 360, without achievements, than a flurry of lame to average games that net me an easy 100k gamerscore.
  • hm thats interesting. . . but not entirelly smart. . . achievememnt hunters as it was said in the article will rent, rent, rent gamefly is their best friend. . . also people who buy from retailers such as Gamestop dont KEEP the game, they'll return it before the 7 days and make up SOME excuse to get their $60 back. . . thats just my first hand account with this situation.
  • I think a good games list is one without multiplayer achievements. Sure - have multiplayer but let it be there for those who enjoy it further.
  • Im surprised it took a developer this long to publicly point this out
  • Unless Microsoft is doing a give away/promo involving your Gamerscore (i.e. that Old Spice Challenge a few years back) I stay away from easy achievement games...and #53, how often have you seen people return games to get their $60 bucks back? Gamestop would be out of business if this was the case. They'll give you another copy of the game if you say it's defective or offer you store credit, or the wonderful 60% below face value trade in...Whatever store you've witnessed this in must have a collection of the dumbest people on the planet.
  • Sometimes I'll rent games for achievements, but not buy. But I have been sold on this game for a long time so I am getting it no matter what the achievements are
  • ........this is way off. if a game has easy achievements that i can 1000 in a day or 2 i will rent. but if the game keeps me coming back to finish it i will buy it. personally if i'm going to spend $60 on a game i DONT want easy ach's
  • I've been saying this for years.
  • It's the achievements that require some effort, i.e. they feel like an achievement, that are worth getting. Easy achievements are meaningless. I only buy games for the game, achievements are there for some extra replay when, the game itself is starting to feel a little old.
  • I would never buy a game thats piss easy to complete just to increase my gamerscore, it just seems pointless. As it says in the article, it would encourage a rental. I'd prefer a game with challenging and numerous but fun achievements, to get the most replayability out of the game and to get my money's worth.
  • The only achievements that annoy me are ones that don't end in 5 or 0! I hate seeing odd an 3 or 7 on the end of my gamerscore!
  • Lol its funny when people think that there is onlu united states in the world. Most of the world doesnt have something like gamefly and stuff with rentals. And if you can read all he says that easy or lets rephrase that not hard to get achievements boost sale of a game.
  • Well that is one developer out of hundreds that "gets" it.......
  • The term achievements per minute (APM??) is good, but they should also consider game score per minute (GSPM) or achievement point per minute (APPM)? Because it's not the same if you get a 5 pointer or a 100 pointer. As for piss easy games, sure grownups play for easy points but sometimes also for fun. But as for kids, it's a good way for them to get them hooked on points.
  • @ #10. 3 minutes??? more like 30 seconds. it took longer for me to pull the game out the box and load it up than to get all 1000G
  • I agree with #60. I prefer games with challenging, yet obtainable achievements. I live in Korea, where there is no Gamefly, or even rental places. My only option is buy a game, and trade it in when I'm done. Its like renting a game, but with a large deposit. Since I don't like to trade in games before I get 1000, sometimes I'm influenced on how easy the achievements are to keep my game collection new and fresh.
  • Good that someone has finally realized this as far to may games have Pathetic/Horseshit achievements, The idea of achievements i got when i 1st got my 360 about 4 years ago was they were supposed to tell how far through a game you were or i you'd completed it ect not some of the pad breaking crap some games now have Game are supposed to be enjoyable people oh and while i'm at it 0 point achivements fucking pointless, no more, NO MORE!
  • Avatar was by far the easiest game to get 1000gs in and i did fall into achievement whore mode when i found out how easy it was. I do agree with comment 58 though. If it's a game like left 4 dead, or call of duty... I'll buy the game because of the replay value. If they're too easy...well thank you Gamefly!
  • I don't think a game will be sold more when it offers 1000G in less than an hour... i'd just borrow it from friends who already have it
  • achievements have changed the face of gaming, THIS website is a testimony to that.
  • in my experience most 'achievement hunters' wont buy a game purely cos its easy, their most likely to rent it from gamefly or something to that effect, so all your doing is pushing up rental figures for that game.
  • this is quite true
  • achievements gives you points
  • i wont HARD acheivements
  • I like games where it's fairly easy to get about 600 just by playing through the story mode and doing some things you'll get easily throughout it, but there's a few achievements on there to really separate the 1000's. Although I don't buy purely based on achievements, I choose games that look fun and then worry about achievements after.
  • FYI, y'all, they're talking about a small but real bump in sales, not that "achievements sell games". In other words, achievements sell games to a small but significant number of people. That makes sense to me.
  • i have played games just to get easy achievements, and i still am tempted to from time to time, but i really have gotten away from that now. i really just try to play the game and use the achievements as a sort of an extra thing to go for. another way i look at it is, i look more at rying to get as much of the 1000 out of the game, to really enjoy the game and not just to add another 1000 to my gamerscore. i have had my 360 for almost 4 years now so compared to my friends i should have a lot more achievements. on the ps3 i don't have many trophies and afer my second playthough of metal gear, i can say that if achievements went away i don't think it would bother me 2 much. and yeah number 62 i had odd numbers, give me points by 5s or 10s
  • its bad sad buying or playing a game just to get points that mean nothing, and easy achivments are nothing to be proud of when every other kiddy has them anyway.
  • time consumption = more money, just put an 100% ach in and uve got a sale not a rental
  • Achievements to me are very important, since I don't have much time for gaming available. Most times when I see these games with very hard achievements list is a turn off for me. It's a good sign that the industry is paying attention to this now to improve sales
  • Achievements... DO affect whether or not I buy a game. This guy has it dead on. I love the terminology, "Achievements per Minute," though. APM? Sounds like it could be a new term.
  • ahh its crazy to see ppl with a gamerscore higher than mine. i feel like a failure.
  • I think I should also add that I prefer the easy to get yet semi-time consuming lists as I won't buy a game I can finish in less than a week that has no replay value.
  • Damn I wish achievements were invented on the PS2 or original xbox before I was always like whats the point in playing the game now I have completed it, now I replay all my games for the achievements.
  • people play games for achievements now rather than playing a game for fun how many people, the first thing they do when they get a new game is check the achievement list play games for fun and don't buy games purely for achievements because when the next xbox comes out in the future you will look back at the time you spent getting achievements and you will think to your self what a waste of time, its got me nowhere. the develepers are concentrate on making good achievements rather than making good games sorry big rant, (i used to be sucked in by achievements, bought a wii and it changed, you gotta play for fun)
  • most peoples gs here is just pathetic
  • I don't care what the achievements are if it's a game I like, but fun ones are nice additions, and I think it is stupid that people let what achievements are in the game influence their decision on purchase it or not!
  • people can play games for whatever reason they want. if someone doesn't care about achievements, obviously the achievement list is not something he or she is going to consider before purchasing a game. however, game companies would be selling themselves short if they don't at least consider the data in this article, which i'm sure they all have been doing long before now (at least the smart ones).
  • he's right just look at Avatar:The last Airbender. Personally people who play just for achievements and trophies are not real gamers.
  • So, I could get fired if I said what game store I worked at? Sweet, it sucks, Gamestop... Nope... Not fired, yet.
  • The odd easy achievement game here and there can always be fun, but completing an extremely difficult game is far more fun that hoarding a high point count. Quality is just as important, if not more important than, quantity (to me) when it comes to gamerscore.
  • You would think "Achievement whores" would want somewhat hard achievements. Getting easy ones doesn't really justify any rights to brag. But I guess it's more about GS than a particular achievement itself. Since on XBL everything's a competition.
  • I completely agree with what this man is saying.
  • 93 that's why I applaud anyone that has Mile High Club...
  • Yeah i don't want easy ones, i want them to be challenging, but not impossible. Kind of on the fence with this subject
  • @#6, I agree, the achievments in that game sucked. Mainly the 100 days, 3 months and the 0 pt. achievments. Achievments are there to enhance the playing experience, not invite you into hell. That's not fun. I don't mind easy achievements as long as they are not Avatar easy. I don't want impossiable achieves either. The achievements I really hate are the multiplayer only achievements, those suck. If no one is playing, your screwed getting that Mp achieve. Achievments should be left to single player/local. MP is more fun when I don't get an achievment hunter asking to let him/her win to get some achievement every 10 minutes. Halo 3 and GOW come to mind. The achievments you can get in single and multiplayer/co-op (anytime) I don't mind though. Part of my buying process does include achieveme
  • When I read this I see the old saying "You say ta-may-to, I say ta-mah-to"... He says games sell better when they have easy achievements, I say they sell less when they are Overly Difficult Achievements. I do agree with many of the comments in here that point out if a game it great it will sell well regardless, but I disagree that they wouldn't sell better if the Achievements Appear obtainable. Personally, I think the Tony Hawk Series experienced this... if their games hadn't had ridiculously stupid Achievements they wouldn't have had to switch to a gimmick to compete with Skate.
  • I don't buy a game based on how easy/ not easy an achievement list is. that's crazy! the achievements are a nice bonus. not a selling point.
  • I am the opposite. I would not buy a game that had easy achievements as what would be the point in buying a game that I would be done with in a week?
  • ah achivements...I've been playing games for a long time with no achievments and when i bought my xbox i didn't even know about them, then i think my first was something on sonic '06 and BAM! I was hooked. worst thing is I tried to go back to my PS2 to play FF12 and i got bored very quick, I can only play my PS1 games (best console ever) and xbox 360 games now, it sucks and I hate microsoft for it...*turns xbox on and plays rock band*
  • P.S It doesn't affect my buying I buy games I like 'coz I'm more likely to actually want to 1K a game i like, though with my love of RPGs thats quite unlikely lol. I bough soulcalibur 4 on PS3 for darth vader originally but I knew the achivements and what I did something I knew was worth an achivement I was sad there was no *bleep-bloop* so I returned and bought on 360.
  • lol, not really. if someone only cares about the achievements and they are easy to get for a game, then that person is most likely just going to rent the game (unless they like wasting money). they'll only buy games they know they keep playing.
  • Great that their easy, bad that some of them won't unlock
  • Cock I already traded this in.....damn it!!!!
  • Easy achievements sells more games, but it also gets more rentals, and has more people borrowing the game from friends and family. Seems like in the end it would balance out.
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