First off: thank goodness they're not actually called "entitlements." No – Sony has gone simple with its in-game rewards / bragging rights system, settling on the concept of "Trophies" for rewarding players for their ... achievements in games.
We had the opportunity to see exactly how the Trophy system will work, which games will support it, and more nitty-gritty details that you can read about after the break!
No beating around the bush – Sony's "Trophies" are Microsoft's "Achievements." Except that there's no Gamerscore point equivalent. Instead, PS3 owners get a revamped version of their user profile that displays how many Trophies they've earned, how many of which type – platinum, gold, silver, or bronze – they have, and what their current "level" is.
click to enlargeThe first two games to support Trophies will be the Sony-published PixelJunk Eden (we saw the XMB screen, but not the game, unfortunately) and Super Stardust HD. The former will be the first PS3 title to feature trophies right out of the gate; the latter will add them via a downloadable update.
Here's the unfortunate news: you'll need to earn Trophies in games that are patched to include them even if you've already completely beaten the game. For example, if GTA IV received a trophy update, you'd need to play through it again – even if you achieved 100% completion – in order to earn its Trophies.
"You earn a platinum Trophy for unlocking every other trophy in a game for ultimate bragging rights."
From the sound of things, though, there's not a lot of movement in terms of already-released titles receiving Trophy support. According to Sony, developers would need to go back in and add the "trigger values" that unlock a Trophy, something we could only expect larger developers to undertake on titles that already have Xbox 360 achievements.
Still, Sony is going to be offering Trophies in two more of its PSN titles for PS3, Pain and Warhawk, at an undisclosed date.
The really interesting aspects of trophies that we noted during our demo of firmware 2.40 are: a "level" system, which takes into account the number of Trophies you've earned and displays your progress via a percentage bar towards the next level; developers can customize the trophy achievement art to fit their games; and you earn a platinum trophy for unlocking every other Trophy in a game for ultimate bragging rights.
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"It's actually the closest 2.40 comes to mimicking Xbox Live."
The new XMB (in-game and out) lets you quickly view your Trophies (the new icon is located under the Games section of the XMB) and compare your collection side-by-side against people on your PSN friends list. In this view, you can see when you and your friend earned the trophy. Plus, a quick description of what's required to earn a certain Trophy is always displayed below its name for easy reference.
We're glad to see Sony finally realizing the appeal of an achievement awards system. It's very similar to what Microsoft offers, but that's fine. It's actually the closest 2.40 comes to mimicking Xbox Live, plus elements such as the "gamer level" – and being able to see if someone is more of a "bronze gamer" than a "gold gamer," for example – is intriguing.