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Xbox 360 and PS3 games allow you to earn Achievements and Trophies, respectively, for in-game accomplishments. The third major player in consoles, Nintendo, doesn't seem to interested in this. Why, though?
"When they create their games, [Nintendo's designers] don't tell you how to play their game in order to achieve some kind of mythical reward," Nintendo head of product marketing Bill Trinen told Kotaku. "Basically, the way the games are designed is they're designed for you to explore the game yourself and have this sense of discovery."
"To that end, I think that when you look specifically at games from EAD [the Nintendo internal development division led by Shigeru Miyamoto] and a lot of other games that Nintendo has developed a well, there are things you can do in the game that will result in some sort of reward or unexpected surprise. In my mind, that really encourages the sense of exploration rather than the sense of 'If I do that, I'm going to get some sort of artificial point or score that's going to make me feel better that I got this.' And that, to me, is I think more compelling."
I don't know why a game would be more compelling without Achievements. You could argue they're useless but do they really hurt a game? If you received an Achievement after collecting all the stars in Super Mario 64, would that have really killed your buzz? It's an argument I can't wrap my head around.