January 4, 2011
Replaying Mass Effect 2 had me start thinking about replay value. It's something that has become a standard measurement of game success. A year after ME2 coming out, I can still play it and discover something new. There are a lot of games that desire that affect. But is it really necessary to add that element to every game?
I think a lot of us see video games as overpriced and under-supplemented. I think it's because of a lot of the big video game developers focus on either alternate endings due to game choices or a healthy dose of dlc to bring you back. It means that the publishers almost admit the game is lacking. "Sorry guys, here's some new stuff you can pay extra for!" Even if you just have to make different choices in the game, you're paying your time to enjoy it. However, if the game publisher doesn't provide the possibility to replay the game with different missions or story hooks, you still feel cheated because why won't they do it while everyone else is? It's a catch-22 that a lot of big names in the industry gets caught up in.
But is replay really something you want to be standard in a game? What does that do in the gaming market when the only games that can be replayed again with small differences are the target? WEll, it means that sooner or later, the same tropes that make games like Mass Effect fun to play over and over again are going to become passe, and the evolution of those tools for video games will stagnate. If you watch closely, you'll see it happening right now, especially with the dlc market more accessible to console lovers. Zombie modes and extra missions introducing ridiculously over-powered weapons are incredibly abundant, and even special items for purchasing your game at specific stores. Doing this once or twice is exciting, ten thousand times is not.
The funny thing is that the games I think of with addictive replay value are things like Tetris. Simple games that require enough brain power to be challenging. It doesn't have a story for you to be invested in once and then get tired of later. It doesn't need DLC since adding more would just make it needlessly complicated. Its a perfect balance. And I can admit I was addicted to this game for years. It has legit replay value built in.
The problem with this is that this is the original casual game. Tetris is the game you played if you sucked at all other video games. I know this because I was that kid for a period of time. The kind of games that are trying really hard to capture replayability don't have that beautifully simple formula.
I am going to cut this rant a bit short because I'm sleepy, and I'm sure so are you for reading this, but my point is that some games aren't designed to have seamless replayability. Some games are probably worth enjoying even if it only has one storyline. You don't need to have a rereading to throughly enjoy a book, or a detailed rewatching of a movie to get it. So how about you publishers just write good storyline? I'll just sit here and replay tetris if i need to.