Saturday, March 27, 2010


Almost every review I read for a game has a score for replayability. Obviously some games gear themselves for this more than others. Many games, however, have little to offer after you beat them. I didn't see the need to replay a game like Uncharted or Infamous. I ran those through, watched the plot unfold, and really didn't think I would enjoy one more go around, despite how much I liked both of them. This begs the question, how many games get replayed?

I don't see a true parallel here with movies. I can watch the same movie over and over, sometimes watching a scene a dozen times. It's a shorter time investment, that's the difference. To replay a game requires much more dedication. Sure, with games that have multiple saves, I can go back to a key point in the game and play it over again. But I don't. Never really have, other than to show someone a cool spot or if I need to revisit something for a review. Otherwise, once the game is done, it's done.

I've asked other gamers and they pretty much feel the same way. Of course, this is nowhere need a large enough sample size, yet I wonder how many gamers really do replay their games. I'm not talking about multiplayer, that's far different. I mean beating Mass Effect and then going back and doing it all over again. Perhaps this might work with a game that has multiple difficulty levels and beating it on a certain level unlocks new features. Most of those games are loosely story based, so it's different any way. Did many people replay Bioshock? Once the ending was revealed, was there a reason to?

This brings up an important point. One can assume game developers consider replayability, especially with games that are beaten in a few days. Replayability increases the bang to buck ratio, so this has to be on the table for them. The question is, what makes a game replayable? What do we, as gamers, want from our games to make us keep going back? The aforementioned difficulty levels is one. How about achievements for beating the game more than once? Do we care enough as gamers about achievements? Trophies? I could care less myself. I just know my PS3 and XBox make a sound and I see a notification but it really doesn't penetrate my brain.

I recently finished Shadow Complex, quite possibly the best XLBA game I've seen. There are different difficulty levels there, but once I completed the game (and was somewhat disappointed with the ending) I really didn't feel like playing again. I've booted it up a few times since, and I just don't care enough to play again. Heavy Rain seems different. I played through twice (for a review) and then watched some videos online and saw so many things I missed. I am tempted to play again. There's so much there, so many different paths, so that adds to replayability. Like Infamous, Knights of the Old Republic let you play as good or evil and your actions dictated much of what happens later. I replayed KOTOR and am thinking about revisiting Cole as an evil dude.

Do you care about replayability? Is this a factor in buying a game? I can't imagine it's that big of a deal. I do, however, see the value of a gamer playing and playing a title. When you get more than you expected, you tend to think highly of the developer. There was a RTS game years ago called Total Annihilation that had such a robust community and a developer that kept pumping out new units and updates that people played it for years and years. RTS games lend themselves much more to replayability. Maybe other games can learn from that.

As always, let me know what you think about all of this. I am curious to see what the general gaming public thinks about replayability and if I am in the majority or off my rocker once again.

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