A successor to the Nintendo Switch is reportedly launching in 2024, with development kits already in the hands of key partners. There have been a million and one Switch 2 rumours for the past half a decade now, but it finally looks like there’s some meat to this story. Understandably, people are excited. But one thing that keeps cropping up as much as better specs and backwards compatibility is achievements. People are begging Nintendo for them, but they just aren’t necessary.

Games have always had internal achievements and bonuses for attaining 100 percent completion. The console-wide version of achievements we know today wasn’t implemented until the Xbox 360 Gamerscore system in 2005. Two years later, Valve jumped on the train and brought it to PC with Steam, before Sony finally caught up in 2008 with the Trophy system for PS3. Notably, Nintendo never gave in to the trend.

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DS, Wii, Wii U, Switch… Nintendo didn’t buckle once. And yet, every time a new console is announced, the demand crawls back up. But Nintendo has only just begun to embrace the social side of gaming in a way that its past consoles failed to. We have online friends, more first-party games with online play, and profiles we are free to customize.

Switch 2

None of these are tied to Miis or any other gimmick. It’s plain and simple, which is refreshing when so many others try to be social media, urging you to get trapped in an ecosystem that doesn’t let go. Yes, we still have friend codes, but I have hope that one of these days Nintendo will leave those behind for good.

Across PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, you can add bios, post to a wall, change your background, join groups, share photos, and all the other bells and whistles of social media. But what separates gaming from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the others is your list of achievements. You can display your Trophies, compare them to your friends, and even see the percentage of how many strangers got each one. This makes social profiles inherently competitive, urging you to position yourself against those you’re close to, and even those you aren’t.

Nintendo consoles have never been designed to suck you in, they’re just tools to enjoy games. Steam’s impressively deep community hub, baked-in modding pages, fan-made guides, and marketplace all make the platform the PC kingpin, standing at the top undefeated. It means that users become more loyal to the platform, as moving to others like Epic Games Store means abandoning everything you’ve built over the years. You don’t just make progress in the games you play, but in your social standing and profile, gamifying the very platform you’re on. No wonder people fight over which is ‘best’, turning it into a feud as they pledge allegiance.

nintendo switch joy-con on a table
via Which?

That’s also true of Xbox and PlayStation. Moving from one to the other means abandoning all the hard work you’ve put in—why switch to PS5 if it means losing your incredibly high Gamerscore? And vice versa, why move to Xbox Series X and lose all the Platinum Trophies you worked so hard to get? ‘Worked’ is the key word. Achievement hunting for many is a chore to fill a meaningless percentage bar, ripping away the fulfilment of gaming as a hobby.

By pitting you against friends and strangers every time you open an achievement list, consoles are urging you to compete and push for the best possible score. By nature, baked-in achievement systems are about unsustainable completionism. Nintendo has long kept its hands clean of this. You can jump between the Wii, Switch, and DS without feeling like you’ve lost ‘progress’, which is what consoles should be like. You aren’t putting time into a meaningless profile with arbitrary stats, you’re enjoying games in your spare time. Isn’t that what this entire hobby is about?

The Switch left that mentality to its competitors, and every day I’m thankful for it. You don’t need a baked-in list because gaming has always rewarded completionists, offered up collectables to hunt for, and even featured achievements of their own, often with tangible in-game rewards beyond a meaningless number on a stat page. Nintendo Switch was no different, keeping social profiles social instead of twisting the console into a game of its own, bringing with it unhealthy attachment. But with the idea of achievements becoming so ingrained into gaming, of course people long for it, but the bliss of a console cut off from that world is rarer than ever. To lose it altogether would be a major blow.

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