Last week I discussed my strong dislike towards tutorials, specifically in current generation games. In keeping with that theme I would like to pose a question similar to last week’s, are modern games too easy? When Dark Souls 2 was recently released a friend of mine excitedly bought it day one. He brought it over and a group of us gave it a go. Now I won’t say we’re pro gamers by any means but I like to think we’re quite competent. Nonetheless that game humiliated us, we each took turns running into a dungeon simply to have our character die a brutal death. Despite the frustration, it was refreshing to be challenged by a AAA game, a sentiment I don’t commonly feel.
There could be multiple reasons as to why players are not being challenged enough, one being that they are being coddled by the developers with tutorials and such. Developers could be doing this out of fear that a notoriously challenging game will intimidate many young and inexperienced gamers. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, video games are made to make money.
Another possible reason is the market. With the fall of the mid-range studio, most games are either huge blockbuster titles or smaller indie titles. As mentioned previously, video games are made to generate profit, therefore they must appeal to what the audience wants: simple and casual experiences. That being said there is absolutely a place for harder games such as Dark Souls 2, but it goes without saying this year’s Call of Duty will outsell Dark Souls 2.
There are by no means a shortage of challenging titles, they just aren’t being shoved down our throats as much as annual releases. The indie scene is where the audience should be looking. They are the ones creating the niche games only a select few will play, but because of the small staffs thats all they need. A title that comes to mind is Spelunky, an extremely unforgiving game with relentless scaling difficulties. As a consumer in this marker I can’t complain about how easy Assassin’s Creed is each year if I don’t pursue the more challenging releases.
To answer the question I asked at the beginning of this piece yes, modern games are too easy, the majority of them at least. The titles selling the most copies are franchises known to be accessible and easy to jump into (Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Need for Speed). It is no coincidence that these games have amassed massive followings and dedicate fans, it’s because the developpers have learned the mass audience does not want to be challenged. The average Joe plays video games to relax and unwind, not to challenge himself mentally. Hence, independant developpers seized the oppertunity to take advantage of their small teams and budgets to create experiences a smaller audience seeks. The hard games are out there, we just need to find them.