Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Games Should and Should Not Become Easier

One of the complaints of the old time gamers is about how easier games are today when compared to the legendary 'good old days'. Of course, it make sense. Arcades didn't wanted gamers to finish a game in a hour and going home, they wanted them to play for hours and put lots of quarters in their machines, so a hard to beat game would be more profitable than easy to beat. And many console games were ports of arcades, so they retained their difficulty.

Now, with arcades almost dead, people play mostly at home. And making a game who gamers will dedicate days in beating it is counter-productive. Developers want gamers to finish their games as soon as possible and buy a new one. That is way they have no interest in keeping games with high replay values or that will take multiple tries to beat it.

That is why games like this is rare today.
Of course, that as a business make sense. If the profit comes from selling more games, making games who keep players trying to beat it for a long time is bad business. With the exception of games who try to keep the players hooked to sell DLC (MMO and Multiplayer heavy games) there is no reason to make a game hard. Not only that, making a game hard to finish will make it less accessible to newer gamers and create an obstacle to sell more games to more people.

And let's face it, most gamers now hate games with far away checkpoints, no autosave feature and no regenerative health. It is frustrating to lost a lot of progress because you made a single mistake or because the game unfairly killed you with a surprise attack you had no way to see it coming. We got to expect those features and to factually like them. But many of us miss the challenge of certain games.

Games like the Soul series and Ninja Gaiden with their brutal difficulties become a heaven for gamers who play games to challenge their skills. Many even call them 'real' games. Of course, games were just games in the old days. Nobody played because they were curious about the sprite in the screen backstory and how the game would end. Well, things changed...

If you played this game because of the gameplay, you did it wrong.
Games now have story, some even good, interesting story. I am one who hate to not finish a great story because the gameplay is getting in my way. It does not mean that I am for getting away with the gameplay altogether. Neither that games should be so hard to beat that you need to get months to play it to the end.

Games need to either find a balance for its difficulty. But a fit-all solution is impossible. That is why I love games who still do difficulty settings. You can just set it yourself, making a game as challenging as you need it to be. Many games don't have this option, making it harder to many people to get into the game and making it hard to newcomers to get into it.

Games have to be easy if developers want to profit and to new gamers to start getting into games. But it does not mean that games cannot be challenging to veteran players. All it need to do is give the options to each player to find the way they like to play games. Unfortunately we live in a time were people seem to believe that one thing must die to other exist. It does not need to be like it.

We just need to have the option. You like a challenge? Set the games at the highest difficulty. You just want to breeze through it? Very Easy in the settings. Developers need to start stop thinking just about a part of the public when making their games. Gamers need to stop to think only about themselves. By making games more easier to customize to the different kind of players, everyone can find their own sweet spot.

It is not that harder to do.

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