Every gamer with a budget knows that the most valuable games are those that give a maximum amount of playtime for the price. The current standard of games falls around 10 hours of play, and if one buys that game at full retail, that’s about 10 minutes of playtime for each dollar. That’s rather expensive luxury time.
Naturally, there are a few different design choices game developers can make to extend the value of their games. Most triple A titles have some kind of multiplayer experience included. The Halo or Call of Duty series have relatively short campaigns, never breaking the 10 hour standard. However, gamers can compete in online multiplayer nearly indefinitely, with additional map packs extending the interest even further.
Unfortunately, multiplayer games quickly become the arena for the truly dedicated or obsessed fan-base that these games attract. Soon, playing well has nothing to do with skill, but with knowing the lay of the maps so well that some players can spawn at the beginning of a match and throw a grenade at just the right angle to get some kills on the other team just as they spawn. The replayability of these games, then, are dependent on the community that follows them.
However, there is another method that many indie games are embracing, and this writer predicts that this method will become pervasive within the mainstream gaming community, as well.
Minecraft has become a gaming legend, even to those mainly focused on the triple A titles of the mainstream. A single developer creates a game, and before it even hits its beta stages rises to nearly 1 million copies sold. It has since passed that mark and continues to grow quickly as the developer now owns his own company and his own staff. Minecraft taps into a variety of innovative gameplay designs that make it so popular.
While all the aspects that make Minecraft enjoyable would require an article all their own, the focal point of this article is the game’s replayability. A single Minecraft world (of which a player can have 5) can potential entertain the player for many hours on end, well beyond the 10 expected out of mainstream titles. However, what makes Minecraft unique is its procedurally generated environments. No two worlds in Minecraft are the same, and starting a brand new world has a sense of thrill and excitement that couldn’t be matched by a prefabricated level.
This random element lends Minecraft an inherent level of replayability due to its sandbox nature. However, random level generation is not out of the question for more focused gameplay. Diablo, for example, has always been famous for its randomly generated dungeons from pre-made rooms.
Though developers may miss out on the revenue created by expansion packs, the value of game using this kind of random content would attract many new gamers and extend the life of a game considerably.