Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 3, 2019

Without replay value, a game is not a game

Look at this Resetera thread: “Have games outgrown ‘replay value'”? I offer that thread as an illustration of how little critical thinking (or any thinking) goes on with Gaming Message Forums where everyone tries to develop a ‘Hive Mind’.

The fatal flaw is thinking, ‘We only replayed games then because we were younger. Today, we are older and have less time.’ OR ‘Games back then were expensive. Games had to be replayable.’

The quality of a game is its replayability. A bad game is a game that is predictable and gets boring to play. The essence of a game is… gameplay. This is true for any sorts of games be it video games or board games. The fact that this is even a conversational piece or being outright denied on a developer/industry saturated game industry really shows you how the Game Industry Hive Mind thinks.

Take the NES library. Most of the games are not replayable. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE BAD. In fact, we ignore 650 of the 700+ games of the NES library not just because they are BAD but because of lack of desire to replay them. Thus, the assumption is that NES games are replayable. Sure, of the 50 or so GOOD ones, yeah. There are TONS of bad NES games.

“The SNES games are so replayable.” When you stop replaying Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, and Contra III and play the other hundreds of games, you find TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE games you only want to play once if at all. There are many terrible game in the SNES library.

There are many terrible games in the Genesis library too.

In fact, there are terrible games in every console’s library!

The reason why ‘replayability’ doesn’t matter anymore, or why game websites dropped it as a review category, is because the ‘non-replayable’ games today ARE terrible! Do you think the hype ends with just the pre-sale? Oh ho ho no. The big companies want you to think that the HUGE blockbuster game you played, and never want to play again, was INCREDIBLE and CUTTING EDGE in culture and taste. The truth is that it was a bad game.

Some might say, “But Malstrom, games are getting longer which is why it is harder to replay them.” There is truth in that. Octopath Traveler took 100 hours from me. This, alone, keeps me from replaying it. But then again, Final Fantasy 6 took 30 hours (which is huge compared to other games of that time), yet I replay that game consistently as well as other 16-bit JRPGs. Why is that?

I find Starcraft to be more replayable than Starcraft II. We can go through the reasons, but I think it is simply because Starcraft is a better GAME. Starcraft 2 erred by becoming a better EXPERIENCE (either in story, in ‘E-sports’, in player ‘style’, something).

Tetris is a great GAME. But Tetris is a terrible digital ‘experience’. No scrolling. No story. No characters. Blocky graphics. And all they do is just keep falling! All they do is FALL, FALL, FALL.

Minecraft is a great GAME. But Minecraft is a terrible digital ‘experience’. Where is the story? Where are the cutscenes? Why are all the graphics looking like a blocky N64 game? Who would ever buy this shit? This is the Game Industry mindset. This is why the Game Industry did not create Minecraft.

The current market demand for ‘Open World’ games has nothing to do with ‘Open World’ as is commonly defined. The demand for ‘Open World’ is actually an appetite and desire for GAMING to return to Game Industry games. The problem with the Zelda franchise was not just that the games were becoming linear, it is that they ceased to feel like games at all anymore. Cutscenes with puzzles is not much of a game. Breath of the Wild is more of a *game* than many other Zeldas have been. It is also interesting to watch people play BoW “Wow!” because true games reveal personalities of their players. Cheaters cheat. Risk takers take risks. Defensive people play defensively.

Forget about games for a moment. Most PEOPLE do not have replay value. You talk to them once, and you do not want to talk to them again. They do not play the GAME OF LIFE, they only want to experience it. Therefore, they become not interesting. They do not take risks. They do not adventure their mind to ‘unapproached’ subjects. They’re just boring.

And boring people are the developers behind boring games. And who likes boring games? Boring people do. “Hey, I got to buy every game that comes out so I don’t miss a DIGITAL EXPERIENCE. Gosh darn, why do I have 500 games on my backlog? Derp derp…”



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