A golden opportunity for Codemasters

I feel that Codemasters are missing out on a golden opportunity.  How so?  I’m referring to Trophy support and downloadable content; what I’m on about will all become clear very soon.

Codemasters are driving game veterans, having developed the Collin McRae Rally series over a number of years now.  They followed up their great series with the launch of DiRT on the PS3.  Then the subsequent development and launch of Race Driver: GRID- essentially the latest game in the TOCA Touring Car series, was a stroke of genius.  I’m only guessing here, but GRID surely reached a large audience.  I was a gamer that had played the TOCA Touring Car games and didn’t particularly like them, but GRID changed that. The visuals, the style, and the sublime handling.  Hey, I liked the handling! (some people would argue the handling was lumpy).

What has made things turn sour for PS3 users, is the fact that GRID won’t be patched to retrospectively support Trophies.  Everything’s been quiet on the GRID front for months, and then a mysterious downloadable content pack is available to purchase on the PlayStation Store.  It’s called the “8-ball pack“, and for £6.29 you get 8 cars.  Yup, for all that money, you just get that.  Let’s have a look what the competition have done…

Criterion Games, the developers of Burnout Paradise, have toiled away at and released Trophy support, and numerous downloadable content packs (all free!), and are only going to charge for their next pack because it adds a whole new island to the game.  It is probably even in the territory of an expansion pack.

This is why I don’t get this comment:

We’re currently not planning to retrospectively support PSN trophies – it’s not a trivial thing to add to a game.


This is where I believe that Codemasters have missed a golden opportunity.  The fans want Trophies, and the developers want a return on investment (ROI), so why don’t they patch the game for trophies, chuck a couple of cars in to sweeten the deal, then offer the pack up for purchase on the PlayStation Store?

You may think I’m making a big deal out of this, especially because there are many games out there that were released before Trophies came out and haven’t been patched such as Resistance: Fall of Man, The Orange Box, and many more.  But none of those games have just had a downloadable content pack released!  If they’re willing to develop new content packs, then why not Trophy support?

Sure, there will be a development team working on DiRT 2, but GRID is a franchise now in it’s own right and they could have kept interest in the game for far longer than they have done, just by following Criterion’s example.  But I digress.  I’ll conclude by admitting that the main reason I’m so upset about this is that GRID is one of my favourite games, and I’m just irritated by the attitude of the developers in this case.

Trophies: The Bigger Picture

This article originally appeared on TheSixthAxis on July 12, 2008

I have recently been pondering the effect of the trophies update in the latest 2.40 (and 2.41) firmware update. Just what has Sony caused within the gaming community? And how could this addition change perceptions to the PS3’s value?

I have been playing Super Stardust HD like most of you, as it is currently the only game to support trophies. I have to admit I passed on this game the first time round, but the trophies update has caused me to think again, and give it a go. Of course now I’m totally addicted to the game, but also wonder what ‘the trophy effect’ will have had on sales of the game? My guess is that the addition of trophies has caused sales of the game to rocket, but I still hope that some updated sales figures are released to confirm my suspicions.

So after I purchased and downloaded the game I eventually earned my first trophy (see also My First Trophy by Al for a great idea of what it feels like), although it took me a little while to keep up with the frantic pace of the game! But what’s this? I find that a friend of mine has got the game as well, and also has a trophy. Game on. We never really talked to each other about it, but both knew we had our reputations as true gamers at stake. So we both spent the evening silently playing away. And every so often after I’d earned another trophy, I’d pause the game and compare trophies with him to find that he was catching up! I’m sure he was doing the same thing as me.

All I can say on this point is this is exactly what the PS3 needed: that element of competitiveness that just wasn’t there before, like achievements on Xbox Live. I’ve come across chatter on the interweb that suggests that Sony’s effort is ‘too little, too late’. Whilst I do agree that this update has been released quite late after the console’s launch, it is not too late for the prospective gamer.

Whilst this part is quite speculative, I’d imagine that it is not too far from the truth: a lot of hardcore and FPS gamers in particular flocked straight to the Xbox 360 and have no doubt been loving Xbox Live, their gamerscore and achievements. However there will have been plenty of people who have hung onto their PS2s possibly even bought a Wii. Yet now when comparing the Xbox 360 against the PS3, there is free online multiplayer over the PlayStation Network, the visually gorgeous and continually improving PlayStation Store, some fantastic exclusives on the PlayStation Network, and trophies which you can compare with your friends and level-up, just like a RPG.

Sony should take note however, that there is still much they can do to stay competitive such as enabling a PSN gamer to be able to show their stats on their websites and blogs, just like Xbox Live gamers can. Maybe Sony’s trump card that will combine the online community and trophies will be PlayStation Home. But that’s enough speculation for today.

This of course, is just my thoughts and opinions on trophies and the bigger picture. Agree, disagree? Then sling a comment this way and I’ll be happy to answer anything.