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Why Gamers Don’t Want Easy Games

/ Jan 17th, 2013 1 Comment

Super Meat Boy

Hope you like blisters on your fingers.

Over the past decade or so games have really come into their own. Gone are the days of 8-bit side scrollers or text adventures. Games have matured, expanded, and added more depth and creativity than previously thought possible. Graphics alone have made tremendous advances in just the past few years. But with all the new features, the polished graphics, and the charismatic characters, games have also changed in another way—one that isn’t so great.

Back in the day games used to be tough…real tough. The original Mega Man games were known for their difficulty while Contra is almost universally recognized for its insanely hard gameplay. As games went into the 21st century though, something changed. While games grew in terms of size and scope, the difficulty to finish said games began to lag behind. Almost across the board game developers started dialing in the difficulty and instead replaced it with a more user-friendly, bland approach. Why make games easier? Perhaps developers thought easy games would sell better. Games weren’t always a billion dollar industry and maybe as the market grew, those in charge thought easier games would attract more customers. Or maybe designers just lost faith in gamers and felt that players needed their hands held or otherwise they’d get frustrated and quit. Whatever the reason, most games were dumbed down and put on easy mode.

Nowadays it isn’t so much solving puzzles or overcoming obstacles as it is combat/violence or you know…shooting stuff. Just look at recent Resident Evil games or the upcoming new entry to the Metal Gear series. Metal Gear became popular because of its focus on stealth paired with its fun but challenging gameplay. The future Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, however, looks more like a slice and dicer that might lack some of the stealth and/or difficulty from previous installments.

Binding of Issac

Also pretty tough

If Super Meat Boy has taught us anything, it’s that gamers can love ridiculously challenging games. A superstar of the indie developer scene, Super Meat Boy—developed by Team Meat—proved that with smart level design and perfectly tuned controls, players can embrace even the most frustrating and demanding gameplay. Demonstrating once again that difficult games can succeed, Team Meat followed up their debut success with their second release, The Binding of Isaac. Reminiscent of the old Zelda games, The Binding of Isaac has players explore random, procedurally-generated dungeons. Deceivingly simple at first, the game gets more and more intense as players descend further down into the basement. But, as with Super Meat Boy, fans of the game respected the tough mechanics and the game developed a rather loyal fan base.

It’s understandable why developers don’t want to create games that are impossibly hard and frustrate gamers till they quit. However, gamers are a smart crowd and this constant coddling is almost to the point of insult. What we don’t need are more hour long tutorials treating us as if it’s the first time we’ve picked up a controller. Yes, there will always be that portion of gamers who shy away from difficult games, but the industry shouldn’t put games on easy mode just to avoid potentially losing a small percentage of the market. Team Meat is a perfect example of game designers willing to put enough faith into their fans to trust that they won’t throw their controllers across the room because a level may require multiple attempts. Frankly, half the fun of Super Meat Boy is getting to watch all your failed attempts once you’ve conquered a level. But Team Meat isn’t alone, there are multiple developers creating a lot of intense and fun games. What the industry needs now is for developers to look at these games and realize gamers don’t need to be babied with lengthy tutorials or restrained difficulty.

Stephen Vinson

Stephen Vinson

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Stephen is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated and part of the editorial team. He regularly reads game reviews, keeps up with gaming trends, and follow news stories about the latest game or console rumor.
Stephen Vinson
Stephen Vinson

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  • zeek

    ever wondered why gaming became mainstream
    ever wondered why cod is more popular than super meat boy or contra

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