Just What Is Replay Value Based On?
How do you feel about knowing the outcome of a story? I for one find it rewarding, and satisfying. So much so, that once I know the outcome I can put it to rest, not having to worry about it for a long time.
Videogames keep the same trait.
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When I play a game I can only play it once, in the immediate period, because I already know what happens. I have experienced all there is to experience and I am alright with that. When I know what happens, it is over. Something new is needed.
I understand that this is not the case for everyone. In fact, quite the opposite. People like to replay a game back-to-back as soon as they have completed it. In the second play-through, these players often do more side-quests or achieve all the achievements.
From the achievements point of view I can understand, sometimes you need to do something extra to complete a specific achievement, but then your reason for replaying is not the willingness to replay but rather the psychological need to actually achieve everything.
I have no problem with replaying a game, I just do not understand the great desire to do so back-to-back. Replaying something a few months down the line is more than alright, it is encouraged if it is a really good game with an appealing story.
The main reason as to why I do not play a game back-to-back is because I already know what happens. There is no need to re-experience the same story, the same battles, and the same interactions. Honestly, I find doing that a little frustrating. When I play something, I do as many side missions and as much exploring as pleases me–and no, that is not all of them.
In my attempt to try and understand why people play, and play again, Caveshen suggested that it’s because some people are not ready to ‘leave that world yet.’ All of a sudden this phenomenon made a lot of sense to me.
Is the game about the story or is the game about how you see yourself in that world? Is your level of immersion based on how much you enjoy the intricacies or how much you really want to be the protagonist?
If you are not ready to leave the world yet, surely that means the story is not the key point. Sure, it is compelling and is probably the reason as to why you played the game in the first place, but it is not the ‘be all and end all’ for replay value. I would say that a limited story kills replay value, so it must be something else.
Is then the key to building a great game all about the intricacies and not the story? Does player growth and interaction count for more than being the hero at the end?
Many games offer progression when replayed; for example, the second play-through allows one to do more things and progress their character further. It is not a complete restart but rather a continuous upgrade. This is an obvious compelling reason as to why you would want to replay a game.
The other is, you were so fascinated with what happened you need to re-experience it. You need to go through all that happened again, to wrap your head around it. Maybe it was too much to take in the first time. Even at this point, some parts are merely frustrating, especially overly extensive boss battles.
If developers wanted to sell their game to gamers, they should then focus on the progression of the characters and not what happens. At the end, the story does not seem to be the most important part. As long as the hero wins and the world is saved, it can be re-experienced, on the condition that there is satisfactory player growth.
Therefore, would it be satisfactory to conclude with: just because a story lets you replay the game, it does not mean you should. Instead, you should focus on games which appeal to a second play-through with growth and experience, not ones that promote the ability for a second play-through with story. Even then, I am hesitant for any second play-through. Once it is over, I walk away to find something new.
I definitely think that there is much more to this. Why do you replay a game, for what fundamental reason apart from ‘getting your money’s worth’?