Interesting news broke yesterday that GAME are apparently going to offer Reward Points for your PSN Trophies and XBL Achievements. On the face of it, this is great news for gamers in the UK.
But it also raises the question of what – if anything – they plan to do about those accounts which aren’t entirely legitimate.
If you have a look at almost any of the numerous trophy/achievement sites which feature leaderboards, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone plays fair. Look at the dates and times of trophies for some users and you’ll see just a few minutes between the first trophy and the Platinum. My personal favourite trophy site, PSNProfiles.com, has even given the option to view their leaderboard as ‘clean‘ or ‘dirty‘ so that you can exclude/include “cheaters” from the listing.
On most gaming forums, there have generally been two camps in any discussion of trophy cheats: one side says they should be ‘named and shamed’ and removed from leaderboards; the other says that they’re only virtual trinkets, so what does it matter?
Up until now it hasn’t been much of an issue; you can just ignore the cheats and be proud that your own collection has been earned by hard, honest gaming. I guess some may say that it still isn’t an issue, but the fact is that people now stand to gain actual profit from hacking or otherwise cheating to obtain trophies and achievements, and that doesn’t sit well with me personally.
As far as I know, none of the leaderboard sites have found a completely foolproof way of accurately distinguishing between hacked trophies and those obtained quickly but legitimately. It’s mostly assumption and best guess, based on what is known of each individual game; for some games, all of the trophies/achievements can be earned in just a few hours, while others literally take days or weeks.
So what, if anything, will GAME do about it? Is there anything they can do about it?
In truth, the rewards GAME will give you aren’t likely to be that great. Currently, when buying from them in store or online, you get one point for every twelve-and-a-half pence spent on purchases of £1.00 and over; upon redemption, one Reward Point has a value of one quarter of a penny – 400 points are worth £1.00. So it stands to reason that the ‘freebies’ they award you for your trophies and achievements probably won’t amount to much value.
That being said, people have been routinely cheating to obtain these virtual rewards when they were nothing more than an image and a number on a TV screen. Now that they have at least some real-world value, will those people be encouraged to do it all the more? And will it encourage even more people to start hacking and cheating in their games? The values may not be great individually, but there are millions of gamers in the UK, and the amounts will add up for GAME, so it would certainly be in their interest to weed out the cheats.
It would also be interesting to know if there’s any potential for an offence to be committed here. The value may be small, but since GAME are giving real-world value to these items, does cheating and claiming those rewards amount to fraud? It will certainly be interesting to see the details of the scheme when they are revealed, and whether it accounts for this issue at all.