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Is Replay Value BAD for Gamers?

June 25, 2012

Have you ever wanted to play one or two of the most recently released games but did not purchase them because you were in the process of completing another game…or another seven games? Here at Game Binge, we have deemed the condition in which an individual may not purchase new games due to the overwhelming number of games in his/her library that must be completed first as Backlog Syndrome.

An estimated 26% of all gamers report to have suffered from Backlog Syndrome, but the Brotherhood of International Nerds Gaming in Ecstasy (BINGE) projects that another 40% gamers have not reported their encounters with the condition.

But I digress.

One of the worst feelings as a gamer has got to be missing a new release because you were too lame to finish your other games. This happens to me all the time, and by all the time, I mean missing out on some high-profile titles including:

  • Gears of War 3 (ended up borrowing)
  • Battlefield 3
  • Modern Warfare 3
  • The Darkness 2 (at least I played a demo at PAX)
  • SSX (the new one and YES I am an SSX fan!)
  • Diablo 3 (and to think I helped sponsor LAN parties)
  • Max Payne 3

That’s a lot of action and exploration I’m missing out on, and it leads me to an interesting question I seldom hear:

Is replay value BAD for gamers?

Think about it: how many play-throughs of each Mass Effect, each Uncharted, or each Elder Scrolls have you gone through? How many hours of multiplayer did you eat up after a developer launched four new maps or a new character class?

My point here is that the value we get from playing games can easily be diminished over time. Booting up a game for the first time clearly gives gamers a different type and/or degree of satisfaction versus an experience added onto a game (map packs, new characters or story lines, etc.). Collecting more loot or completing new quests on top of what you’ve already achieved in a game can be very fun, but is it worth your investment (financially and time-wise) to continue that game when there is an exciting mix of newer and perhaps refreshingly different games out there?

Some gamers live to game and can conquer every nook and cranny of a new release in a day or two, but there is an audience out there that wants to capture the essence of a particular game and then move on to other unique titles. Such gamers may sacrifice a game’s total value in the process, but they’re giving themselves a chance to “play the field” and immediately find a satisfying amount of value. Whether you buy two games following each paycheck or wait for the holiday season is up to you; in my apartment, I have 16 games for my go-to system, my Xbox 360, and I have 3 titles to complete on my first play-through.

Many financially-conscious gamers will see replay value as essential, and there is a diverse set of current games that offer replay value while remaining relevant in the fast-moving industry; titles like Diablo III, Skyrim, the BF3 and CoD FPS titans, and even World of Warcraft (curse you Mists of Pandaria!!!) keep putting out content that attract their audiences and the industry’s attention. But for every one of these games we continue to play, we seem to miss another game that offers something different. We miss a Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii), or a Darkness II (multi-platform), or a Gravity Rush (VITA), and we miss a chance to shine some light on what could be the next up-and-comer of a franchise.

I don’t intend to bash blockbuster or gameplay-rich titles. Believe me, I endured about fifteen hours bounty-hunting and skinning wild game in Red Dead Redemption. But given the massive amount of coverage such games receive, I almost feel like I get my fix just by following them in the media. I can read a Skyrim Dawnguard update and watch a Diablo III Inferno Hardcore video, and when I’m done, I’ll tackle a puzzle and slash some foes in my first (and last) play-through of the Darksiders campaign.

I think a lot of a game’s total value is increasingly coming in the form of DLC. You can read my arguments against paying for DLC here.

What’s your stance on replay value? Let’s hear about it!

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