Account-wide achievements: a different perspective

Larísa made an interesting post earlier today about why she thinks that account-wide achievements (a feature that Blizzard has at least hinted at as something that they might look into in the future) are "a terrible idea". I was originally going to reply in a comment, but then I thought that it would just go on and on and that I might as well make a whole post of my own about it.

Basically, I disagree with Larísa on this.

She argues that for example seeing a level one Kingslayer running around would be very immersion-breaking, and that the whole notion of wanting account-wide achievements doesn't seem to be based on anything but a desire to show off to as many people as possible.

I have to say that I found the immersion argument more surprising than anything else, because for me achievements themselves are one of the most immersion-breaking things in the game as it is. Nothing screams "this is a game" like a big golden badge with some witty phrase popping up in the middle of your screen while you're going about your business in the world. The way achievements are recorded afterwards has no connection to the in-game world either, it's just a tab of information accessible on your action bar. Ditto for titles really... seeing "the Kingslayer" next to someone's name can only be considered immersion-breaking if you're also roleplaying that everyone has their name floating above their head, otherwise you wouldn't know anyway.

For me achievements have always been directed at the player, not at the character, because they don't even exist in-character. Sure, you could have your toon talk about that time she faced the Lich King, but that's not really dependent on actually having any record of it, is it? You might as well talk about some completely made-up adventure. Unless you treat your achievements as some kind of magical diary that you carry around in your back pocket and that records things like that one time you fell off the Scryer's Tier while completely smashed... but even so it would require you to make things up that aren't actually supported by the game. Achievements are simply not part of the world, they are something to look at for the players behind it.

With that said, I think it would only be logical if they were actually tied to the account instead of the individual character. I'm not saying we have to severe the connection to the characters altogether, since as Larísa correctly pointed out, doing a fight as a healer can be very different from doing it as melee dps for example. You could have account-wide achievements and still have a note saying something like "completed on: character X", or simply have two layers of achievements, individual character and accout-wide.

Larísa refers to an account-wide achievement system as a "fraud", yet at the same time she cheers for one of her commenters when said commenter says that she likes the way the current system allows her to impress people who think her alt is a noob because it doesn't show up as having any great achievements. Isn't that fraudulent, giving the impression that you know nothing so people won't expect as much from you? I think if anything, an account-wide achievement system would be a bit more honest, letting us know at a glance what kind of player we're dealing with: experienced, new, raider, hardcore PvPer or whatever.

As for the argument that people just want account-wide achievements to show off... erm, of course they do, what else is the point of having achievements at all? Larísa refers to them as "public record or diary", but I think public is the keyword here. They are meant to be shown off. I don't need achievements to remember my greatest moments in the game myself, they are purely there so others can easily see them as well. So what exactly is wrong with wanting them to be as easily accessible and widely visible as possible?

The only downside I see in account-wide achievements is that they would remove one of the incentives to go through old content again. Part of the fun of levelling alts is that rush of fast progression, steady improvement and feeling that you're achieving something (regardless of whether you get a golden badge for it or not). Similarly having to unlock each achievement separately for all of your alts can give you a reason to do a certain bit of content again even if you wouldn't do so on your main. But then, as I said above, having account-wide achievements wouldn't necessarily mean having to abolish character achievements altogether, so there is room for compromise.


  1. To me the achievements aren't something I do because I want all those shiny(huh?) achievement points with which you can do.. oh wait.. absolutely nothing!

    I just do some achievements because I like to get the specific mount, quest or possibly title. Or I did Explorer because I actually love exploring and seeing the entire world - because let's be honest they did do a really good job there :)

    I think some achievements would be nice account wide. Like after I've explored the entire world on my main character. If I switch my main a year later, why would I want to explore the entire world yet again?

    Or even worse, do the World Events (something that takes you a full year) one more time for my violet proto-drake.

    I don't want to be able to pick and mix. Like doing 3 world events on character Y and another 3 on character X and the last ones on character Z and that will give me the achievement. But if I did all that work on one character, I just hate the fact that I have to do it all over again on my new main.

    Also, while one can argue that using GS and stuff in the first place and raid leaders are stupid for doing so (I do believe in skill more than GS) I don't see a way back from this. And so my alts - while well-geared - can't get into PUGs even if I've done the content on my tank and my old dps main. Still my alt tank or alt dps can't get in without achievements. Though I know the tactics in and out.

    I don't want my low levels to get the Kingslayer titles or anything. But I'd like a way to show that I've done whichever bosses etc. on my main - to show that while I'm on my alt I do know what to do.

    Sure, one can argue that it's your alt and playing as dps is different than tank - which of course is true. But unless you have no game awareness what so ever I'd be tempted to say that you still know the mechanics of the fight and you should be able to put 2 and 2 together.

    I think we're on the same page though. And I don't necessarily think it would remove the fun in playing an alt. You'd still have to do the whole levelling thing, and getting new gear and messing with your professions. To me, that's the fun bit with a new character. I love getting my professions sorted, or getting a new piece of loot :)

  2. I agree. I didn't see where Blizz hinted at the account-wide thing, but I'm a bit out of touch with WoW news so that's not surprising. As someone who has often had to switch mains for various reasons, I would love this. As Saga said - I explored the world once, and it was really fun, but I'm not going to do it five more times with my other characters. Even I have limits. The holiday achievements would also be a relief. As it is, every holiday even that comes up I ask myself, "Which characters need this one? Now can I be bothered to do all of these achievements for all of them?"

  3. The "Level 80" achievement would be nice on a level 1. :)

    Basically, if all achievements would be shared, it would remove a huge part of the things you can do with alts.

    If they share achievements, they should also share gear and badges and honor and professions and so on.

  4. I'm not a big fan of achievements, period, or having them totally visible on the armory. It's not so much "lying" as it is nobody's business. I guess if people want to know if I've done XYZ, they can just ask me.

  5. @Vid: Larísa quoted Blizzard's latest comments on the subject in her post.

    @Kring: I don't know, the things you mention all still serve a specific purpose for each character, while achievements generally don't (except for a few exceptions that give your character a pet or mount). You don't level a profession just so you can say you have a profession, but achievements serve no purpose beyond being able to say that you have them.

    @Zel: I actually don't like achievements much myself and could happily go back to not having any or at least having them hidden, but I figured that ship sailed a long time ago. Which leaves me thinking that if Blizzard wants people to work for badges with show-off value, they might as well be a bit more accomodating to people when they actually do want to show them off in the game.