Following a spate of leaks last week, Sony has officially announced that the PlayStation 3's trophy system will arrive on July 2 as part of the 2.40 firmware update. As had been rumored, the system will eschew its Xbox Live-style cumulative numerical score, instead adopting a four-tiered approach that bestows four kinds of awards: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

The trophies will be assigned by each game's developer, not Sony, and will be associated with a task of relative difficulty; bronze medals will be doled out for easy feats, and gold for harder objectives. "The platinum medals will only be given when all other tasks are completed," Eric Lempel, director of PlayStation Network Operations, told GameSpot.

Each trophy will have a numeric value associated with it, and this value will contribute to an overall leveling system, much like those in role-playing games. However, the user will be unable to see how much each trophy is worth, and instead will see only a completion percentage for each game and each overall level. When asked why Sony was avoiding tying a visible score to the PS3's trophy system, Lempel said, "We don't know why our users would be interested in a numeric value... We think the medals best represent one's progress."

Although trophies will become standard in all games in the future, they will be added to only a few existing games, including Super Stardust and Warhawk. Other than BioShock, Sony said that it could not confirm trophies for any existing or future third-party PS3 games, including the wildly popular Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. However, it did announce a spate of upcoming first-party games that would include trophies, including LittleBigPlanet, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, NBA 09, Resistance 2, and SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Confrontation.
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Unfortunately, PS3 trophies will not be retroactive. For games that have already been released, players must first download a patch for said game, and will then have to perform the feats to receive the trophies as if they were playing the game for the first time.

Players' PS3 trophies will be viewable via a new profile window that will be accessible via the XrossMediaBar (XMB), which, as rumored, will be available in-game. The XMB will offer access to at-a-glance trophy tallies, a more detailed breakdown of medals, and a side-by-side comparison of a player's trophies and those of any friend.

The new in-game XMB will offer a host of other new features as well, including the ability to send text messages to friends in-game and to jump to other PS3 services. However, many of said services--including Web browsing and voice chat--will force players to quit their game and then access the XMB traditionally. The rumored customizable in-game background-music feature, which will let players stream music from their hard drives while playing a game, was also confirmed. However, the feature will be game-specific, which means that it is up to developers to enable the functionality or not.