In order to be successful, developers need to come up with games that engage players, but what does that mean exactly?
In 2017, gaming is big business. Worth $100 billion, the industry continues to grow, and so does the choice of titles on offer.
What makes a game engaging?
Players will have different expectations of games across genres, though there are certain key elements that link successful games.
One of the most important secrets to engaging gameplay is a good story. With the video game industry now grossing around ten times more than Hollywood, developers need to write storylines that can hook players over hours, days and weeks. As IGN Editor Luke Karmali puts it, “relatable, well-written characters can more than make up for a number of other deficits.”
This is not to say that gameplay isn’t important, though. At their heart, games are a form of escapism, a means for the player to immerse themselves in a different world in which they retain full control. Gamers will often be happy to ignore gaping holes in the plot, as long as the actual process of playing is enjoyable and something that they can come back to over and over again.
With so many titles on the market nowadays, more dedicated players are on the lookout for games that differ from the norm and offer a unique experience. IGN’s Leah Jackson says, “To me, the perfect video game is one that makes me think about the medium in new ways”, emphasising the need for developers to constantly innovate to attract new audiences.
Graphics and sound are also important to some – as games consoles become more advanced, players want titles that virtually replicate real life.
Community Member sambow135 agrees with all of the above elements, saying: “The best video games are the ones that can create a memorable universe with fun gameplay. People remember the great video game universes because they left such a lasting impression. Those games are the ones that draw you in and leave you begging for more.”
Examples of immersive games
The obvious examples of immersive games are those that have benefited from a big budget (think Destiny or Fallout) or franchises that have built a cult following over the years, such as Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid. However, games don’t have to have millions of pounds lavished on them or years of experience to be engaging.
Online slot games could be seen as immersive, due to the sheer variety of slots on offer, as could mobile games with limited storylines, such as Angry Birds – now turned into a Hollywood movie – or Flappy Bird, which was deemed so addictive that the original developer pulled it from the App Store due to concerns people were playing it too much.
There’s no one “secret” to engaging gameplay – who knows what people might be playing tomorrow? However, it seems that gamers will always have time for titles that prioritise one – or all – of story, gameplay and experience.