As the gaming industry continues to grow, are games becoming more difficult to play? It depends on who you ask. Difficulty can be highly subjective, and the answer you get will come from a combination of experience, perspective, and a healthy dose of opinion.
For instance, can chess players play poker? You’d have thought so. Some of them will be able to, and some won’t, and learning how to play might be difficult for some yet easy for others. All kinds of factors can influence the player, from age and privilege to desire and dedication.
Recent Released: MyFedLoan review and login process
If you ask each of those chess players how difficult poker is, it’s impossible to get the same answer from every one of them. The truth of the matter is that, over time, games have grown more complex in some ways and a lot simpler in others, and nowhere is that more evident than with video games.
Most gamers who have played older video games know that a lot of those games were incredibly challenging by today’s standards. So what happens if we compare old games to newer ones? What can that tell us about the difference in difficulty? Let’s find out by taking a brief look at the history of modern gaming.
Past to present
Back in the 1970s, when gaming hit the mainstream, and brick-and-mortar arcades started cropping up, there were no home consoles or mobile gaming devices. The only games you could play were the ones at the arcade, and you had to exchange your money for tokens to get a limited amount of playtime.
From a gameplay perspective, these early examples of commercial video games were designed to be as difficult as possible. Developers wanted players to use as many tokens or coins as possible, and the use of visible high-score tables is clear evidence of their desire to make games as repetitive as possible.
At the same time, games still had to be fun and compelling to keep players coming back for more. Players would just get frustrated if the games were too tough, so there needed to be a balance for each type of game, and that formula would influence the design of the first console games.
Many games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Commodore 64, and other early consoles were notoriously difficult. However, developers eventually realized that, in order to retain this new brand of gamers, video games would need to shift towards longer playtime and less repetition.
The rise of modern gaming
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, consoles like the Playstation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo 64 brought us games that prioritized longevity through inclusive gameplay. Games became personal experiences that could be shared with others, but mobile games and online connectivity brought changes to the industry that no one saw coming.
By this point, video games had been around for decades. Controls had improved, narratives were growing in complexity, and difficulty levels became a thing. Unique genres gradually developed, and accessibility became the driving factor behind production and development.
Mobile games gave us unprecedented mobility, but they were also the source of microtransactions and other, more aggressive monetization models. Pretty soon, many game companies switched from selling games to selling live services, and controversial elements like pay-to-win (P2W) and loot boxes had a definitive impact on modern game design.
If we compare the gameplay difficulty of classic games and the most popular ones of today, there have been countless improvements to accessibility, level of control, and player freedom. However, there are also paywalls and exclusive rewards for players who pay more, and all of these factors influence difficulty in their own way.
There’s no way to discuss difficulty without considering control mechanics, gameplay loops, skill curves, and a whole host of other factors. If we judge difficulty by accessibility, then what does that mean for games like Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden? Those types of games are hard for most players, but there are skilled individuals who can breeze through them in one sitting.
Perspective is everything
Much like the movie and music industries, gaming is designed to make as much money as possible. The ultimate aim is to provide consumers with new media to explore and experience, and someone has to make a profit at the end of the day.
Whether a game is difficult or not is far too subjective, so the conclusion we’re left with is that age could very well be the deciding factor. As we get older, change becomes harder to adapt to. New gameplay mechanics can seem overwhelming, and there’s always the possibility that your interests can change.
Regardless of your age, all gaming market demographics keep expanding. Gaming is the biggest entertainment industry in the world, and it’s showing no signs of slowing its astronomical growth any time soon.
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that games have to be compelling to gain an audience. Whether that alluring design requires a high difficulty or a low one will depend on the type of game and the type of player, so it’s best to just dive in and explore any genre that suits you. With tens of thousands of games to choose from, something’s bound to click eventually.