The Golden Rules of Achievements

Some games get achievements right, some get them very wrong. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to consider when designing them:


  • Be creative. Make the player play the game in a different way.
  • Vary difficulty. Easy is fine if it’s something quirky.
  • Have some slow burners. Reward the player for completion and dedication.
  • If you complete the game in a higher difficulty, it needs to unlock the lower difficulty completion achievements too.
  • Make online achievements obtainable in a short amount of time.
  • Have co-op achievements if co-op is an option.
  • Make the player become an expert for a couple of the Achievements. Getting every Achievement should not be possible passively.
  • Make your gamerscores relative to dedication – getting your first kill and completing the game shouldn’t both be worth 10G.


  • Don’t be time/date constrained. e.g. “Play on December 31st 2012”.
  • Don’t make the player top your online leaderboard.
  • Don’t make the majority of them online-focussed.
  • Don’t give the player odd Gamerscore points.
  • Don’t be insultingly easy – passing the tutorial is not an Achievement.
  • Dont’ make an achievement secret unless it contains spoilers.
  • Don’t make an achievement outside of the player’s control (e.g. play with a developer).




  • Hello i kind of getting your idea of golden rule. This is what i get:
    “Achievements should be rewarding dedicated player for their actions. It should not be easy, also it should not be out of their control..”
    but i dont get some of the “Don’ts”, such as:
    -> Don’t be time/date constrained. e.g. “Play on December 31st 2012”.
    -> Don’t make the majority of them online-focussed.
    i appreciate if you can share the reason for this point 🙂

  • Ptival


    Not the original author, but let me try:

    Re. time-constrained achievements: They are just not that interesting and not challenging in a way you want to be challenged by a game.
    A particularly bad example that comes to mind is Universe Sandbox.
    Some games get away with stuff like that because it ties in to the game. I am thinking of one of the Batman game where you had to visit on particular calendar days to learn about day-related things, or of The Stanley Parable where the achievements are stupid on purpose, just like the entire game challenges video game concepts.

    Re. online-focused: Here I think it depends if the game has a strong single-player component or not. If it does, it might be annoying if all the achievements require you to be online or in co-op, especially when you show up after the party and all the servers are empty and nobody wants to play that game… but I’m not sure that was the author’s intent here.

    • Schromercy

      Wow, i have not played any games that you mention above. It is interesting to try and see what they are doing in their achievement system. Thank you
      I agree that the achievement system should support the elements of the game (and not forcing its way into them). So i satisfied with your answer & examples. 🙂

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