Thursday, December 06, 2007

Are You Getting Full Value From Your Video Games? (2 of 3)

In my last post, I described the Xbox 360 achievement system, and shared some thoughts on what works and does not work about the system. In this post, I will go over more specific examples.


One nice thing about the Xbox 360 is that there is an API to interact with Xbox Live (a not so nice thing is that access to this API is limited to a very small number of services). At any rate, one of these services is My360Stats. This site tracks data from a large sample of gamers. Using this data, you can learn all sorts of interesting things about how people are responding to a given game. In particular, you can see how many people are actually completing any specific game.

One of the simplest reports available is the Completed Games report. This shows what percentage of people who have played the game have earned every possible achievement. The highest completion ratio goes to Avatar, with a whopping 97.5% of users who've played the game having earned every possible achievement. Close behind is TMNT, with a 72.5% completion rate. These games are generally considered easy, since most people can beat them completely. These are the games people like to play during challenges to earn achievement points quickly - five hours of King Kong, and you've got 1,000 points for relatively little effort.

At the bottom end of the scale, we have Guitar Hero 2, with a dismal .3% completion rate (108 of 33,341). It's safe to say you are unlikely to get 100% gamerscore for this game. Let's look at this game more closely. The average completion rate (by achievements) is 46.6% (by score it's 34.9% - this is a common pattern for games which give big rewards to the hardest achievements, and is the reason I'll only be using percentages for number of achievements in the rest of this post).

If you look at the graphs for how many people have completed how many achievements, you can learn all sorts of interesting things. Looking at Guitar Hero 2, you can see a very large hump, centered around 25 achievements (the half way mark). This means that most players get to about 50% completion, and stop playing the game. What's interesting about this game is that the hump is so broad. This means there is a lot of variation about how long people play the game, well spread out. The end of the graph is always interesting - it indicates how likely you are to be able to get 100% of the points if you really try. If there's a large spike at the end, it means a good number of people who were trying for the end were able to reach it. If the end is very small, it indicates people tended to give up before getting that far. Guitar Hero 2 has a pretty small spike, so you can count on it being a hard game in this sense.


To see all the achievements, check out the site This lets you see all the achievements for any game, often with guides on how to get them. Note that this may include spoilers, as some games have secret achievements you are only supposed to figure out during game play - the names and goals of these achievements may give away certain elements of the game. (Unfortunately, I know of no way to determine what the success percentage is for any specific achievement - that could be an interesting number.) For Guitar Hero II there are a number of Online Mad Skillz achievements (Get 1,000,000 points on a song in Cooperative), and some other offline Mad Skillz (Earn five stars on all songs in the Expert tour). I expect these are the source of the low completion rate.

Overview of Recent Games

Some quick analyses of a few other games mentioned recently in this blog:


Average completion: 57.4% (Only 5.85% score 100%)
My score: 94% (47 achievements)

Here I've pretty thoroughly trounced the game, and I hope to still earn the last three achievements.

Looking at the graph, we see:
9 indicates the first "give up" point.
29-31 indicates a point where some people tend to give up
43-45 means "completion" for many gamers
50 shows a nice spike, indicating %100 is reasonably possible

It's interesting to see the game abandoment happening around 9 and again at 29-31. These problem correspond to completing specific areas in the game, and losing interest.

Halo 3

Average completion: 46.9% (Only 7.08% score 100%)
My score: 24% (12 achievements)

Here I've beaten the game in co-op, but done essentially nothing else. This has only scored be a fourth of the achievements.

12 - first give up point
27-29 - second completion point
49 - big spike

Here I am, clearly at the first give up point. The second spike likely applies to playing a reasonable about of multiplayer, and 49 is probably getting most of the doable achievements - leaving the remainder as serious Mad Skillz goals.

Gears of War

Average completion: 39.1% (Only 1.56% score 100%)
My score: 12% (12 achievements)

I beat this game in co-op, and only got a meager 12% of the points. Clearly I still have work to do if I want to earn what this game has to offer. It's an awesome game, but how many times do I really want to play it?

1 indicates the first give up point. (wow)
10 indicates second Casual
23 indicates third Hardcore
30 indicates fourth Insane
48 indicates fifth (Co-op, Online Play)
relative small bump at 57, hard to complete

The give up points here map fairly well to achievements. Looks like a lot of people get stuck early one - one achievement. The other give up points seem to correspond fairly well to the difficultly levels, each of which have their own achievements. Note that the Co-op and Online Play achievements wouldn't necessarily break out exactly as shown above.

That concludes this part of my analysis - you can easily pick your own favorite games, or games you are thinking about buying, and see if you can guess where you will lie. In the next post of this series, I'll conclude with a final set of more personal observations about how much value I get out of a typical video game.

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