Achievement hunting and collecting trophies aren't new phenomena – gamers have been relentlessly perfecting games across generations of consoles. And the most dedicated and organized hunters often use third-party sites to keep track of which accomplishments they've ticked off... and which still elude them.
It's worth bearing in mind that achievement tracking sites aren't just automated checklists. They're full of like-minded folks looking to test their skill (and willpower) and help one another out and have become more like community hubs.
But are these sites safe? And which ones are worth checking out? That's exactly what I'll take a look at in this post!
There are few things more satisfying than finally seeing that Platinum trophy appear after grinding your way through a game. Some of those trophies can be much harder to claim than others, however, and that's where a tracking website comes in handy!
And PSNProfiles is the place to be for PlayStation users, currently boasting more than 391,000 active users who have earned an impressive 3.5 billion trophies.
The site tracks and updates your trophy progress as you game, and is a repository of user-generated guides for just about any title you can imagine. If you're the competitive sort, you can check out the leaderboards and compare your collection of trophies with players around the world – and that includes other PSNProfile users as well as PSN users in general.
PSNProfile's community holds pretty frequent events, where you can strive to 100% games together, as well as gaming sessions that make picking up new players a breeze. If you have any questions or concerns (or fancy addressing some yourself), hop over to the PSNProfile forums to sound off – responses are typically quick and straightforward.
The site updates your progress automatically, once every 24 hours, though premium users benefit from an update every 6 hours, instead. If you go premium, you'll also banish ads and get some extra room in your trophy case. A lifetime premium subscription is available for a one-time payment of $12.99, which is a bargain if you plan to use the site frequently.
What I like about PSNProfiles is that it is secure. You don't have to hand over your PSN password – there's just no need, seeing as the site uses your public PSN ID to work its magic.
However, remember that if your PSN profile is set to private, you won't be able to use the site!
If you do a bit of shopping around for alternative trophy tracking sites, you might run into apps (like YaPSNapp) that do insist that you fork over your password. I can't stress enough that this is a bad idea.
Third-party apps are under no obligation to keep your data safe... and not exploit it. Inputting your PSN credentials is particularly dangerous, seeing as your credit card and other financial information is linked to your account. A savvy hacker could take over your account and make all sorts of purchases for themselves without your permission!
Just like the PlayStation clan, Xbox users have a few tracking sites that they favor to keep tabs on their achievement progress – and TrueAchievements is the pick of the bunch! The site might not look like much at first glance, but it has an active community of over 400,000 users, ready to help you clutch those elusive achievements.
TrueAchievements became the darling of the Xbox scene thanks to its automatic achievement scanning. It'll pick up on all the achievements you've already earned in a blink and log them for easy reference without a fuss. You'll also be able to connect to friends and see what achievements they're working on and any game sessions they initiate – and the TrueAchievement game sessions are a really seamless way of recruiting capable players!
Achievement hunters should also make use of the site's completion time estimates. I like these because they're calculated by actual players who have done the hard work and collected the achievements already, and not just estimated. It's also possible to flag achievements that are unobtainable for whatever reason, and browse tonnes of guides and achievement solutions. You're also more than welcome to author your own specific solution! Basically, TrueAchievements is your one-stop shop for everything achievement-related, and a handy way of organizing your next 100% playthrough.
Again, similar to PSNProfiles, what impresses me about TrueAchievements is that there's no need to disclose your Xbox account password. The only thing you'll need to share is your GamerTag. Once you do, the site will be able to access the same information that a friend could if they checked out your profile!
Achievements aren't restricted to console players! There's a litany of accomplishments waiting to be collected through Steam, and a thriving community constantly posting in the official forums on hand to help you out. But, if you do want to check out a third-party tracking site, there are options for Steam users.
In fact, there are a number of reliable sites to take a look at. Each one has its ups and downs, so you'll need to do a bit of window shopping and prioritize features according to your preferences:
- Astats – a popular site, but not a totally well-regarded one. Users report sluggish load times and updates compared to alternatives, but its leaderboards remain top-notch.
- TrueSteam – is more comparable to PSNProfiles or TrueAchievements, seeing as you can sift through user-generated guides and achievement solutions.
- Steam Hunters – started out as a PSNProfiles clone for Steam users, but now has its very own community.
- Completionist.me – my recommendation, thanks to an impressive personal achievement tracker.
As you might expect, these tracking sites automatically log your achievements as you play. That's good news for anyone who wants to quickly reference their accomplishments later, or verify them to achievement-hunting groups or communities.
And that's an important aspect of these Steam-oriented sites. Not only do they validate a player's hard work, but they also often root out any cheaters trying to game the system to make it seem like they've earned achievements when they simply haven't.
My favorite tracking site for Steam, Completionist.me, allows you to create a profile by connecting your Steam profile. However, your Steam credentials won't actually be passed over to the site. Your publically viewable profile page will instead be shared via a unique numeric identifier that's connected to your community profile.
Whilst we're on the topic of Steam, I should touch on the Steam Achievement Manager.
If you're not familiar with the program, it basically allows you to unlock or lock achievements as you please, which comes in handy if you want to tick off unobtainable achievements. But some players do far more than that, unlocking achievements without actually completing them in-game.
Is the program safe? Well, that depends on the risks you're willing to take with your Steam profile. The program itself can be downloaded safely from a reliable source (and scanned with an antivirus), but you'll want to be careful about when you use it.
The reason for this is that VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat System) protected games and VAC-protected servers can ban you if they notice you using SAM to alter achievements. The general rule of thumb is to remember not to modify achievements whilst a VAC-protected game is currently running. Similarly, certain publishers can automate bans that affect players using SAM to fiddle with achievements.
You should also take a look at this section of the Steam Subscriber Agreement:
You may not use Cheats, automation software (bots), mods, hacks, or any other unauthorized third-party software, to modify or automate any Subscription Marketplace process.
If you're using SAM to tick off achievements that you didn't earn but could've, then that's surely cheating. Steam would be within its rights to ban you, then, but instances of this actually happening to any SAM users are scarce. Some users even assert that they've used SAM whilst playing on VAC servers without any issues! You'll have to decide whether you want to run that risk – just remember that a lot of achievement tracking sites already discount unobtainable achievements and may ban you if you use programs like SAM.
There's no avoiding the fact that the internet is a dangerous place, and bad actors are always looking to profit from us somehow. It's impossible to weed out every threat, but there are a few things you can keep in mind whilst browsing tracking sites to ensure that you don't accidentally hand over access to your console or Steam account.
- 📱Use 2FA – this is a simple but super-effective way of ensuring no hackers get unauthorized access to your accounts. Enable 2FA where you can, and you'll need to provide a unique code (usually texted to you) in addition to your usual credentials before logging in to your account. So, unless the hacker has your phone for some reason, they'll be denied access to your account even if they have your password.
- ♻️Don't reuse passwords – seriously, it's a disaster waiting to happen! Using the same password for multiple accounts means that, if a hacker gets hold of it, they'll be able to access any and all profiles secured by that password. That could include your social media, your Amazon account, and even your bank or financial profiles.
- 💪Strengthen your password – don't be afraid to mix up some numbers, symbols, and non-dictionary words into your passwords. Just remember to avoid using things like birthdays, pet names, and hometowns as your password.
- 🧠Invest in a password manager – a good password manager will help you remember your passwords as well as create them, and they'll always suggest strong passwords, too. What's more, some password managers can even point out and warn you about scummy sites!
- 🧼Keep your device clean – don't underestimate how useful antivirus software is can be! Anyone who spends a lot of time online can benefit from one, and there are some cracking options available that won't break the bank. Antivirus programs can prevent malware from infecting your device and logging your keystrokes.
Achievement tracking sites are an awesome organizational tool. You can keep tabs on multiple games, including their DLCs and add-ons, and create a living profile of your accomplishments to share with the community. Plus, there are always other players to help, events to join, and guides to write.
So, whether you collect trophies to test your skill, engage in some competition, or explore every nook of the games you love, it could be worth checking out a tracking site. They're like a communal database of user-generated knowledge!
All you need to remember is that there's never any reason to fork over your password; be savvy, trust your intuition, and have fun creating your very own virtual trophy cabinet.