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Are Games Getting Easier? 854

An anonymous reader writes "I can't help feeling that this generation of games for both consoles and PCs are getting increasingly dumbed down and easier to complete. There's no challenge in today's games, most of which can be completed on the day of purchase. Triple A titles such as Halo, Modern Warfare 2 are the worst of the lot. The whole reason for this article is Medal of Honor, this can be completed within hours of purchase. Where's the fun in that?"
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Are Games Getting Easier?

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  • Where is the fun? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weachiod ( 1928554 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:38PM (#34028716)
    In multiplayer.
    • by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:41PM (#34028774)

      Yep, there's nothing more fun than being teabagged by some jerk who has no life or job so they spend 24/7 practising so they can feel their life has meaning when some wage slave logs on to go find some fun for a few hours.

      • by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:43PM (#34028790)

        I hate how game companies today are shoving everyone toward online play - though I understand, because it frees them from having to... you know... create content for the game.

        Some of us want to be able to play single player in exchange for our $60... it's not too much to ask.
        • Re:Where is the fun? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by abigor ( 540274 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:53PM (#34028954)

          Fully agree. That said, you just have to pick your games: Assassin's Creed 2, Red Dead Redemption, GTA4 and many others offer extensive single player content. I love stuff like the Modern Warfare games, but I make sure to buy them used and cheap.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rip Dick ( 1207150 )
            For the love of God: Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Also Oblivion.
        • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:57PM (#34029032) Homepage
          I wish I had mod points now. I'd often rather not have MP at all, for I barely ever do multiplayer. There isn't a whole lot of fun to getting shot at by people you don't know who'll rub it in your face in the typical well-mannered way a 14-year old can.
        • by AstrumPreliator ( 708436 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:57PM (#34029046)
          I don't know. My all time favorite multiplayer FPS is Starsiege: Tribes. It was only multiplayer and it was hard as hell to play. I was never one of the greats, or even really good but I always found it fun. Thing is the game is absolutely full of content. The multiplayer was amazingly complex for its day. Even though it had no multiplayer it was still seeped in Starsiege lore. You don't need to know any of it to play the game, but they did put a lot of time into it. So it's not like content and multiplayer are mutually exclusive.
        • Re:Where is the fun? (Score:5, Informative)

          by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:20PM (#34029452) Journal

          I don't mind multiplayer. In fact, I encourage it... but I don't do PVP. Most people equate multiplayer to competitive and that's where I think multiplayer gaming gains a big red "x" for some people. What we need to do is encourage developers to develop a storyline and allow jump-in cooperation from people you approve.

          Personally I feel like MP games need to break a bit from the linearity of single player gaming (and I know people will disagree with me on this.) I'd love to be completing storyline missions in one town and let my friend go off and sell loot from our last mission or whatever they like (even if it's breaking form the party and exploring that cave over there.)

          I spend most of my time investigating the cooperative aspects of games so that I can log in and play with friends and complete objectives.

          I don't have nearly as much fun in games when it's just me.

        • by davev2.0 ( 1873518 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:26PM (#34029562)
          What gets me is that they are making gaming into a social event. If I wanted to be social, I would not be at home on a computer. I would be at a LAN party. I would play golf, or softball, or just go to a gym. I would go to a restaurant, bar, or club. I would go to a bookstore or coffee shop. I would take a class. I would do something, anything other than sit in a room alone and "socialize" on my computer while playing a game.

          When I want to be social, I go be with other people and socialize. I really don't want to be forced to socialize with others in order to play a computer game at home.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Find a better server.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis ( 315124 )

        Yep, there's nothing more fun than being teabagged by some jerk who has no life or job so they spend 24/7 practising so they can feel their life has meaning when some wage slave logs on to go find some fun for a few hours.


        I used to have more time on my hands. I used to be able to play Unreal (pre-tournament!) for multiple hours a day. I got halfway-decent at it. It was fun.

        But those days are long-gone. I don't have the time to get good enough at a modern multi-player title for it to actually be fun. If I log into something multi-player these days I just get my ass handed to me time and again. Usually while somebody mocks me. Not my idea of fun.

        This wouldn't really be a problem if there was more single-player co

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)


        Apparently your gaming environment is a hell of a lot more fun than mine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rewind ( 138843 )

        Yep, there's nothing more fun than being teabagged by some jerk who has no life or job so they spend 24/7 practising so they can feel their life has meaning when some wage slave logs on to go find some fun for a few hours.

        Not that I disagree with you, I don't (though I think you are grossly exaggerating the scale of the problem), but I do find it somewhat ironic that a thread about how easy games have become is filled up posts like yours... discussing how games are full of people way better than themselves ;)

      • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @05:10PM (#34030362)

        Yep, there's nothing more fun than being teabagged by some jerk who has no life or job...

        Are you saying it's more fun being teabagged by some nice millionaire with a lovely family? I'd think that would make it worse. "Not only is he better than me at this game, and his virtual nuts are in my virtual dead face, he's better than me at LIFE!!!"

      • by parlancex ( 1322105 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @05:56PM (#34031136)
        This is compounded by the new fad of including permanent progression in almost every online game now, so I can go online in Red Dead Redemption or Call Of Duty and get killed instantly by people like that who have 10 times more health and do 10 times more damage. What kind of sane adult has the patience to suffer through it for countless hours just to cancel that out?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kheldan ( 1460303 )
      Yes. This. Once upon a time multiplayer used to require being in the same room or building, connected via LAN (or MIDI, if you want to go back that far), but once the Internet became ubiquitous, that all changed. Why bother putting tons of money and effort into solo gameplay when multiplayer is so much more attractive to everyone?
      • Connect via MIDI? Did you mean serial or parallel cables?

      • by Hyppy ( 74366 )
        Connected via MIDI? As in... Musical Instrument Digital Interface? Unless you're just talking about a null-modem connection via RS-232 between serial ports, ya lost me.
        • Re:Where is the fun? (Score:5, Informative)

          by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:32PM (#34029674)

          In the days before RS-232 we had current loop, which was basically the same idea, but used "current flow"/"no current flow" instead of RS-232 +15V/-15V to signal zeros and ones.

          MIDI 1.0 is a current loop serial port that runs at a bizarre baud rate 31250 bps. Yet it uses a nice standard async protocol of 8N1 just like a serial port.

          Depending on the peculiar non-standardness of your serial port, it might, with minimal hacking, be made to work MIDI.

          Take a UART chip, add a RS-232 level shifter like a MAX-232 or those ancient 1489 1488 level shifters, add a DB-25 and you've got a RS-232 port. Take the same UART chip, add some optoisolators and resistors, wire to a 5 pin DIN jack, and you're got a MIDI port. Not as different as you'd think. The software is a bit different of course.

          Or working the other way around, on the Atari ST, the MIDI ports could be connected in a "MIDI null modem"-ish cable, and you could play multiplayer games, although I never owned a ST.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JonySuede ( 1908576 )

            ps, don't put +15/-15V in a modern motherboard serial port, if you still have them, that is...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Most RS-232 ports today don't operate at the +-15V of the specification, for reasons of power consumption. +-5V is very common, and you'll find some that are 0V/5V. As RS-232 is designed to accept just about anything (To allow for attenuation on very long cable runs), this works fine on short cable runs. But it does mean that your common PC serial port isn't capable of driving long cables, like a true RS-232 would be.

            Note 'long' cables. As opposed to 'really long' cables, for which you want RS-232's long-r
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Actually multi-player it isn't always more attractive. There are a number of people that just want to unplug from society for a bit in a nice solo game. There are a couple issues I think. The first is the "Me Too" problem that first started when WoW started outclassing blockbuster movie revenue. The other is that good AI is very difficult to create. So many games that at first seemed hard became laughably easy as soon as you understood the AI and developed a counter strategy. Before the WoW "me too" p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jitterman ( 987991 )

        Why bother putting tons of money and effort into solo gameplay when multiplayer is so much more attractive to everyone?

        Because it's not more attractive to everyone. It's more attractive to some. After the disappointment of the most recent MoH single-player campaign, I won't be buying another. But I most certainly will be buying Dragon Age 2, Fallout Vegas (though it's very buggy) etc.

  • by Manos_Of_Fate ( 1092793 ) <> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:40PM (#34028742)
    It's a business decision, pure and simple. The more people your game is accessible to, the more copies you sell. Why spend a lot of time developing a game 5% of the potential market will want when you can spend the same effort appealing to the other 95%?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tbannist ( 230135 )

      Yes, it's a business decision, but I'm not sure you've got the reason correct. I don't think multiplayer appeals to more than 50% of the audience. However, multiplayer is trivially "sticky" which means by spending a little time adding multiplayer you can keep people who do buy your game playing longer and talking about your game for longer. If people are playing longer that means you have a longer sales window before used copies start seriously competing with new copies of the game. If people are talkin

    • We wanted it! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Remember all those pains involved in having such ignored and even ridiculed way of spending time? How "games were only for kids", and only weird and awkward ones at that? How, if only the masses would really try, they would understand and like it?

      Well, it happened. So now many games are made for them, not you. Deal with the consequences of what we wanted (this is extremely easy, considering huge numbers of great "hard" games made also now; even if limiting oneself to what's available, more than can be playe

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by flitty ( 981864 )
      And there are "hard" games out there. Just last week, Super Meat Boy came out, which is by no means easy. Yes, it has individual levels to beat, so no nintendo style restarting from the beginning, but that's for the better.

      Seriously, if someone is so nostalgic for old school game difficulty, go play those games. They are still there, they still work, and I'm sure you didn't play all of them. Go beat Ghosts n' Goblins twice.
  • The people playing the games might be getting faster as well? Kids as young as 5 years old are using computers. I couldn't remember getting my hands on a computer till I was 15. Kids these days are faster, better, but not necessarily smarter? according to all the other articles on /.
  • Difficulty Settings! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:40PM (#34028750) Journal

    ... Halo, Modern Warfare 2 are the worst of the lot. The whole reason for this article is Medal of Honor ...

    I can't speak for Halo but I'm pretty sure MW2 had difficulty settings and I know Medal of Honor has difficulty settings because I played that piece of shit game last night. Easy and Normal maybe but I think that Difficult would take more than a couple tries on most levels.

    You're just mad because it doesn't mean anything to beat a game anymore. Sure, on XBox you can get gamer points or achievements for beating it on the hardest setting but it bothers you that others can experience the same rewarding progress dopamine that you get. Well, that's never going to change. By the very nature of how that is rewarding to you is the fact that you're a select few of maybe ~10% of the population that can beat the game.

    So Craptivision can either shutout some of their content to the vast majority of players or introduce difficulty settings so the toddler across the street can mash the controller in order to beat the game in easy mode. That drives profits and the only thing they see as a sacrifice is the rare super gamer that feels a bit miffed he or she just forked over $60 in order to autopilot through a game.

    You know I still played through all the levels of difficulty in Goldeneye on the N64 and didn't feel cheated. When I ran that train level on 00-Agent difficulty night after night after night I can still think back to those rare times when I would laser the engineer room hatch open with my watch and then drop down with Natalya only to have to run down the length of the train with people shooting at our backs. One bullet in either of our backs and we were basically dead. That goddamn bitch always died. Always. I swear to Christ when I eventually passed that level it was by sheer bug alone that she did not die. So after that cruel Sisyphean task that my friend and I worked together strategizing and getting through it, I was rewarded and will never forget some of those levels.

    Games are getting easier but I ask you what does it matter? You will have your difficulty settings (usually) so play only on the hardest setting and enjoy your Contra III style impossibilities []. The era of earning progress through a game has largely come to pass unless you look at the end game material of WoW at any one moment. Final Fantasy XIII was a travesty in this respect. And profit dictates it will stay that way.

    • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:55PM (#34028990) Journal

      Halo gives you the options to make the game incredibly difficult - not only are there the 4 difficulty settings but there's a whole slew of skulls you can activate to make things harder (Limitted Ammo, Enemies like to use grenades more often, and of course Iron mode (any death by you or a team mate if you are playing co op means you restart the whole level, no checkpoints).

      So if he is complaining about Halo 3 or Reach not being difficult enough, I challenge him to legendary with all skulls on, and try beating that in anything less than 6 hours and I will bow down and call him the gamer king.

      He is just reminiscing the days of difficult platformers where every moving object on the screen was trying to kill you, and one touch meant you were dead and lost a life, and you only got 3 to start.

      Don't get me wrong, games ARE getting easier, but that's not a bad thing. When I first played the new Halo Reach - it was with a buddy of mine and we were trying it on Legendary, no skulls. We got about half way through in one night - and its only because we've played all the halos through since the DEMO of Halo 1 - so our skills in those games are rather refined. When I was playing the game for myself, I wanted to jump in on multiplayer as soon as possible, but I also wanted to finish the campaign, just for the storyline - I would do Legendary another time when I felt like the challenge. Being able to breeze through the campaign on easy was a good thing, like an added feature to the game. When a game is storyline driven, as most games try to be now-a-days, its not a bad thing to have an easy difficulty setting where you can progress the game more like a movie.

      • by demonbug ( 309515 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:55PM (#34030108) Journal

        Don't get me wrong, games ARE getting easier, but that's not a bad thing. When I first played the new Halo Reach - it was with a buddy of mine and we were trying it on Legendary, no skulls. We got about half way through in one night - and its only because we've played all the halos through since the DEMO of Halo 1 - so our skills in those games are rather refined. When I was playing the game for myself, I wanted to jump in on multiplayer as soon as possible, but I also wanted to finish the campaign, just for the storyline - I would do Legendary another time when I felt like the challenge. Being able to breeze through the campaign on easy was a good thing, like an added feature to the game. When a game is storyline driven, as most games try to be now-a-days, its not a bad thing to have an easy difficulty setting where you can progress the game more like a movie.

        I've found I do this more and more often. I just don't have the time anymore to slog through on the higher difficulty settings, trying levels over and over. I used to love that, but now I just want to see the story and have some good, relaxing fun.I think the change in difficult reflects the changing demographic of game players. When I was young, and Nintendo games were all the rage, it was basically only kids playing - kids with ample time to try and re-try the same level until they do everything perfectly. You could get away with having a challenging game, because even if you frustrate the player, they are going to come back for more - because they have ample time to master it. Today, gamers are on average significantly older, and they (generally) just don't have time to master every game that comes along. If I run into a roadblock in a game these days, where I try a few times and can't get past something, I'm unlikely to pick up that game again - I get to the point of frustration, but don't have time to work at it until I get beyond the frustration to the reward. When that happens, I tend to move on to the next game.

        That said, I grew up playing games on PC (and before that Commodores; first PET then 64), and there were very few that I'd say were all that hard. It is mostly the impenetrable platformers from the NES and other consoles that people remember as being really difficult, and I never had much interest in those anyway.


        • by Jeppe Salvesen ( 101622 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @01:40AM (#34034668)

          I agree. When we were kids, we had the time to keep perfecting. I guess they still do, judging from the multiplayer action. And keeping attempting to beat that difficult boss is actually a fundamentally different experience than lowering the difficulty level. If you invest a lot of frustration into a game (I remember 10 or 20 or more attempts to complete something), it will feel like one helluva achievement to beat the game. Not the same if you have to try two or three times before you proceed.

          And I think we, the grownups, are to "blame" for this. I can take months to complete games. Obviously, I'm not a big gamer anymore - but I find it entertaining enough once in a while. I certainly play at "Please don't hurt me"-difficulty levels. And we, the grown-up low-key gamers are legion. We probably make up a very solid chunk of the market. After all, to us 50 bucks is not a whole lot of money. It's money, but not a whole lot, so we have a lower treshold to pick something up just to try it. And consequentially, if you measure hours spent in the game, we will be a much smaller demographic.

  • by VoiceInTheDesert ( 1613565 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:41PM (#34028760)
    It seems the way to make AI these days is to make it really stupid and easy for the player to beat, unless the player turns it on hard mode, in which case, they see you from 5 miles away and one-hit you before you were aware the map had finished loading.

    Studios are under a lot of pressure to churn out games as fast as possible these days and AI is suffering. The solution to making games challenging is to make them either never miss and insta-kill the player or to just give them tons of health and attack power, but keep them stupid. Neither strategy is entertaining and it would be nice to have actual care put into building intelligent, challenging AI instead.
  • Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aapold ( 753705 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:41PM (#34028764) Homepage Journal
    Just like planned obsolescence in other products, there's less money to be made in something that will keep a customer challenged and occupied for months. Better to let them finish it quickly and back to purchase another game (or some DLC to extend it).
    • by Hyppy ( 74366 )
      Blizzard disagrees. I suppose MMOs would sort of fit into the "DLC to extend" category, though.
  • It's a breath of fresh air compared to the current crop of watered down games on today's consoles. It ushers in the rage inducing difficulty level that many of us grew up with as kids. If you haven't played it yet, you're in for a real treat.

  • If you can finish it in a couple of hours, I salute you!

  • depends on your definition of "completed", especially with multiplayer games. If all you care about is blowing through the single player story as quickly as possible, then you need to either come to grips with the fact that this is how you play or lower your expectations. Personally, I "completed" WC3 when the SC2 came out, many years later. I still liked playing it and it did not get old for me.
  • It's adult gamers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Derkec ( 463377 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:45PM (#34028826)

    Hey we're busy. We really don't necessarily all want to struggle with games. We want something fun, that's a little challenging that we can get through. 12 hours of content for 60 bucks? That's about even with a movie.

    Personally, I gravitate to the games I can play over and over again, rather than big story games, but I get it.

    And the games we do play a lot are usually more social these days. The author complains about a short story in Halo or Modern Warfare. Well duh. Most people are paying for the multiplayer experience which infinitely re playable. The single player parts are a sideline. Is a 5 hour single player worth the money there? No. But that's not what people are buying anyway. It's like complaining about hugely expensive veg and potatoes while ignoring the steak that came alongside.

  • by cruff ( 171569 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:45PM (#34028830) Homepage

    I really enjoy games with interesting puzzles and goals, until I get to those damn boss battles at the end of a segment. Who finds that any fun after the second time around? Really, do I need to die 30 times before I manage to hang on long enough to get past it?

  • Which games? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:46PM (#34028836) Homepage Journal

    and what do you mean by easier?

    The time to complete something it's a good indicator of whether or not a game is harder.

    I played Might and magic and it took 100 hours to complete. Does spending 40 minutes killing 10000 skeletons by hitting the same two keys hard?

  • If games are getting easier, I think you need look no further for the reason than the rising average age of the gamer demographic. When I was in college, I could spend six hours a day for a week on games if I wanted to. Now I have a job and a family, and I might have an hour a day in which I could play games—but probably not. On those rare occasions I do play something, well, it wouldn't be very exciting to play for an hour and just make it through the tutorial.

    Shorter games are better for busy peop

  • No possibility, huh, that you might just be a better game player now than in the past? Can't give yourself a pat on the back there?

    The problem is that if games continually get harder as time goes by, new players to computer games overall will never be able to complete them and quit buying them out of frustration.

    If games are too easy then experienced players will quit buying them. Game makers will see the trend and increase the challenge.

    Or you could just overclock your PS3..
  • by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:48PM (#34028884)
    I'm not sure - I haven't played a new game in years. Still working on Myst. I hope to have it completed by 2015, and then I'll move on to Riven. I may just finish this series before I die...
  • Indie Games (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rakuen ( 1230808 )
    The main developers are making somewhat easier games (with difficulty settings) because that's the way the market works. If you make every game require the same level of memorization, reflexes, and skill as Battletoads, a large portion of people are going to stop buying your games pretty quickly. They're a business, they have to make money, so no surprise here that they try to cater to the larger demographic.

    There are, however, independent developers who are still making difficult games. They don't ha
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:50PM (#34028914)

    When I was young, everything was better. Today, everything is worse.

    Every Generation Since the Dawn of Time.

    • UFO: Enemy Unknown (Score:3, Informative)

      by Terrasque ( 796014 )

      I played UFO: Enemy Unknown quite a bit when I was a young lad. I remembered the game as being pretty hard.

      So, I got the chance to play it again. I laughed a bit at remembering it being "hard", and figured it would be piss easy now.
      If it was hard when I was 12 years old and had no clue what I was doing, it should be easy when I'm 25 and have gamed quite a lost these last 10 years..

      Ok, so I load it up, getting filled by nostalgia, shoot down my first UFO, and go out to pick up the remains. Ship land, first t

  • Is it me or is there a story on here about how games are too easy or not long enough every couple of weeks or so?

    Go back a few years and people were complaining of how difficult and frustration games were (to this day I haven't beaten Mega Man, the first one with the horrible box art).

    This is a cycle, we're just in the "easy-peasy" part of it, the difficulty will come back, just like leggings... *shudder* Speaking of which, spandex is a privilege, not a right!

  • Well the focus has shifted from single player to multiplayer quite a lot in the last decade or so. Single play has been getting easier and shorter for mainstream blockbuster titles, but they tend to focus on multiplayer. I did enjoyed the new Medal of Honor single player even with it being very short, they did screw up majorly on multiplayer though. Even games which are heavily focused on single player have been getting shorter, like the episodic releases of Half-Life 2. I'd give them a break but the reason
  • Well if you guys keep buying them, they'll keep making them!!

  • I imagine catering to a less skilled but broader audience translates into higher sales. It's all about numbers, you know.

    Also, it seems that people are increasingly willing to buy watered down shit, ignoring quality and focusing on theme. I'm looking at you, sports games.
  • I played through Mass Effect 2 on normal, and felt like a badass by the end, because in Mass Effect 2, you play a badass. You go up against impossible odds and save the human race.

    Some of my friends played through Mass Effect 2 on Insane difficulty, and felt like badasses by the end, because they had done something hard.

    Neither of these things actually makes you a badass, though. One is just pretending in a story, and one is just developing proficiency at a game. The difference is, I don't have any ill
  • ROI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ryvar ( 122400 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:59PM (#34029074) Homepage

    (All opinions expressed herein may not reflect the views of my employer, and in fact we try to avoid falling into this trap but it's a pretty prevalent attitude in the industry right now):

    I work as a game designer on big-budget shooters for a living, so here's my take:

    Game companies are consciously making the decision to do this for two reasons:
    1) Easier games have broader markets, by increasing the likelihood and rate at which the user receives validation we increase sales, and much more importantly:

    2) It's unusual for more than 50% of the people who beat the first level of your game to beat the last level. Money spent on later levels is generally money wasted, and shortening the experience altogether is a function of the increasing development cost per hour of gameplay and ROI of even having more than 10 hours of content at all. If 95% of the people who bought the game complete the first level (as tracked by developers through achievement systems) but only, say, 35-40% finish the game, that necessarily influences how you invest your limited development funds.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zenin ( 266666 )

      Because it couldn't be that the later levels were rushed, sloppy, unimaginative, and ultimately just boring. Or the game in general wasn't that good to begin with. Nah, it must be the gamer's fault. *facepalm*

      Good games hook you all the way through and still leave you wanting more, enough so that you play it through again a few times. When you first finished the game you did it at 6am, because you just couldn't put the game down, it was that good.

      If your achievement spying system indicates half your pla

  • From the article:

    Imagine if Tiger Woods just gave up the first time he swung a golf club because he didnt get a hole in one? What if Michael Jordan gave up because he couldnt dunk straight away? Both Golf and Basketball are games just like any other game, you play because its fun and in time you learn to play better and improve.

    Well, if Tiger Woods had to play his first ever game of golf against Jack Nicklaus, he probably would have been so frustrated with the experience that he might have considered not bothering. That is how multiplayer (your favorite FPS here) is for many people. That is exactly why I only played the first Quake for about an hour - and the rest of the series not at all. People who are new to the games end up in multiplayer games against people who play it 16 hours a day and hence find themselves annihilated faster than they can even figure out which button opens a door and which button changes weapons.

    People aren't giving up games quickly because they are hard - more often they are giving up because there is no point in trying to compete when there are no new players around. It would be as it there was no such thing as amateur boxing, everyone had to get started by fighting Mike Tyson; many people wouldn't even consider it out of fear of immediate death.

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:00PM (#34029104)

    Games are certainly getting easier if you define it as "I can beat it."

    Back in the early console days, I only ever beat maybe one in ten of the games, "beating" meaning that I got to the end credits. PC games were a different story because you could save the game state. With sheer endurance, you could make it to the end.

    Older games didn't have much going for them but the play mechanics themselves and they could be fiendishly difficult and completely unforgiving. "Twitch gaming" is not a recent development.

    So yeah, through sheer endurance, you can beat most games out these days. The question is whether you can maintain enough interest to bother.

    The thing I've noticed as I've gotten older is that it takes a greater effort and more originality to pique my interest. I have no tolerance for annoying play mechanics, derivative designs, and rehashes of games I've already played.

    I've been a fan of RTS games for a long time but nothing kills my interest in a game more than seeing something five or ten times shinier than the last RTS I played with AI and pathfinding every bit as awful as the last one.

  • Of course they are (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:15PM (#34029360) Homepage

    Seems pretty obvious to me.

    When I was a kid and had my NES, games were TOUGH. Old Atari games were tough as well. Even into the Genesis and SNES games were often still hard.

    Now, I'm older, and better at games, so that makes a difference. But I'd say that the average game now, even on 'normal', is easier than it was.

    There are a couple of reasons. First is games aren't coin-ops now. When I was a kid, most games were either coin-op conversions, or designed by companies who were used to them. They were used to designing games to make you fail, so you had to stick in more quarters.

    Second, hard games turn people off. Battletoads was fun, but I couldn't get past the elevator stage as a kid, even in two player. Contra is famously hard. Super Ghouls and Ghosts? Tough! There were some easier games, but that could be killer. Rent a game and it's too hard, you give it up. You don't buy the game. You don't buy the sequels. When it feels like you're being punished by the game, it's not fun.

    Games are evolving. Super Mario Galaxy had some very tough moments (especially getting all the stars). But you could die until you game over and lose basically nothing. The lives are irrelevant. Today most FPSes have regenerative shields (thanks to Halo) so you don't get stuck somewhere with 1 health, unable to move.

    Games have moved on. They can still be punishing. Some are designed that way (Ninja Gaiden for the XBox), some can just be set that way (various songs in Rock Band on expert). Are things like Ratchet & Clank easier than older platformers? I'm not sure.

    I'm happy about this. I enjoyed FF X and XII, but I never finished them. They got too hard, and I had to grind and grind and grind just to get to the next area. It stopped being fun. Last summer I played The Legendary Starfy on the DS. The game was easy as heck, but it was quite enjoyable. I expect the same thing out of the new Kirby game. That isn't always a bad thing. A game can be easy and still a ton of fun. We've learned replay value doesn't just come from forcing you to replay the game over and over just to survive to a new area.

    What I really hate is what other commenters have noted: online play. When Q3 did it they had a good reason: it was a FPS with no story and the bots weren't that great. But today, it's an excuse to make less content. It's an excuse to make a buggy game. It's an excuse to try to force me to buy an XBox Live subscription. I almost never care. The only times I've really enjoyed online games where when I ended up stumbling upon a server I could play on all the time, with people I knew who would take care of griefers and generally played the game.

    On the whole, online play is usually tacked-on and not that great. When I see a preview for a game that's not dedicated online, and online is one of the first features they talk about, I know I'm not going to care much.

  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:32PM (#34029680)
    I'm what should be called "hardcore casual gamer". Sounds weird? Not quite: I play lots of games; most of them on easiest difficulty setting. I'll tell you why in a second.
    My philosophy is fairly simple: I buy a game, therefore I own it (albeit the EULA saying that it's only rented/licensed/leased to you, blah-blah). Bottom line is I can play it however I want. So... that's what I do.
    I know my limits. Aged 31 and working 'till 2 AM every night, I know that my reflexes aren't that good; my patience runs short; and I want to have fun. For me, fun is when you cruise through a game without wasting an insane amount of energy and frustration to advance. So in order to obtain that fun, I set the difficulty level to the lowest possible. I also try to grab all games which offer a rich sandbox mode. Examples: Prototype, Just Cause 2, Assassin's Creed, GTA 3, 4, The Saboteur, etc.
    Metagaming and immersion is a lot more important than mindlessly following the main storyline through corridors from A to Z. I usually ignore the main storyline whenever I can and only follow it when I want to change something. I had endless hours of fun in Just Cause 2 (played for almost 100 hours of game time so far) and it's still fun to do stuff in there. Same for GTA 4. Same for Prototype. I just wish there were more games like these out there on the market.
    One sandbox-type game that I did NOT like is Spore, because you always are summoned to do this and that and have to go there and do it, otherwise bad things happen. Ugly and unrewarding. Another bad sandbox game is Mafia 2: nothing to do except roam around in a car. Boring.
    As for Multiplayer: I enjoy co-op PvE games (such as Serious Sam), but I dislike PvP. My aggressiveness is around -7 on a scale from 1 to 10; combined with my bad gaming skills and my unwillingness to improve (call me lazy, I don't care) makes for a bad set of prerequisites for PvP.
    MMOs: I play browser-based MMOs, which are fun; OGame was one of the more interesting ones, up to a point when everything sort of got stuck (some sort of "endgame" where the server had too few people to make anything a challenge). I also play EVE Online, but lately it became to aggressive on all levels to be enjoyable. Everybody seems to fight everybody else for no apparent reason.
    One more thing about pretty much all MMOs I have played: the trolls, jerks and pubeless snoogans vastly outnumber all other types of players, thus poisoning the gamevironment. Yes, even EVE Online is invaded by such archetypes, polluting forums, chatrooms, etc. I had hoped the complexity of the game would drive them off; sadly, it's not the case.
    Well, anyway, staying on topic: I have no problem with dumbed down games. What I have a problem with are:
    - games which cheat. A good example would be racing games where everybody is 1 lap behind in the last lap, and all of a sudden you are ranked 6th.
    - inconsistent game difficulty. An example is the bloody ninja rope trial in Worms: Reloaded. I cruised through most levels (with few exceptions) but got stuck on that stupid level for the last 2 months or so. Epic Fail from the producer. Not to mention the ninja rope's mechanics is completely different from all other Worms games.
    - Bad ports from consoles. No further comment here...
    All in all, so what if the main storyline ends in 3 hours? Good, now we can concentrate on having fun in the sandbox mode :)
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @04:57PM (#34030140) Homepage

    Difficulty and "dumbed down" are not the same thing. World of Warcraft is much more complicated than Mario Bros, but that doesn't mean it's harder to "do well" at it. It's also not always easy to define the boundary between "dumbed down" and "streamlined". Comparing modern D&D to 1st Edition AD&D, for instance, I find that many things are much, much, simpler -- I no longer have to look up multiple numbers in tables most of the time -- but that the game as a whole has a much, much, more diverse set of options and choices at any given time.

    Furthermore, it's not entirely obvious that there's any intrinsic virtue to games being "hard". Take a game you like. Now, modify it as follows: Every five minutes, there is a 20% chance that you instantly lose the game, including any and all "lives" or "continues" or whatever that you might have had. Now, is this game better than the one you started with?

    Games used to be "hard" because arcade games were built around a business model where you had to put in twenty five cents to play the game "once". They had to have a definite end, and the end had to be as close to inevitable as possible. We aren't using that model anymore, and it is no longer particularly relevant whether games are "hard" in that sense. Instead, we start thinking in terms of whether games are challenging, because that's part of what makes them fun to us.

    In many cases, games that have been "dumbed down" or "made easy" have actually been moved to a higher level of abstraction or thought. Modern MMOs are, in many cases, much easier to survive in than they were five or ten years ago... But this doesn't mean that there's no room for skilled play, it just means that what you get from being skilled is different from what it used to be. On the whole, I find them a lot more interesting now. With upcoming changes to CoH to make life easier on pretty much all characters (we'll get some combination of more powers to use or more energy to use our powers with), I don't expect that suddenly the game will "stop being challenging". I expect that it will be less frustrating in some cases, and that I'll spend less time easily winning a fight and then waiting a minute with nothing interesting to do while my character regenerates.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"