Replayability. What exactly does this phrase mean? Why are people/reviewers so obsessed with this term? Today we are going to focus on what exactly this phrase means, what qualities a game is supposed to have for this label and compare games from the past and see if they qualify for replayability.
Let’s break the word down and try to give a good concrete definition of what this term means. The ending of the word “ability” refers to something’s capacity to achieve or do something. The first part “replay” refers to playing or viewing the item more than once. Combining the two we will get our definition of “the capacity of the item to provide entertainment more than once or one playthrough”. Now we have a simplified definition of what this term means.
Let’s take our definition and apply it to video games to determine what factors a game must have in order to “give entertainment value more than once.” Off the top of my head, multiple character classes, different endings, multiple choices, unlockables, achievements, being non-linear (we’ll explore this one later), open world environments and multiplayer are qualities a game is supposed to have in order to have replayability.
I’m now going to put two games to the test in order to test if they have replayability. Mass Effect 2 and Super Mario Bros (NES) are considered two great games from two different time periods. First Mass Effect 2 has multiple classes, different endings, multiple choices, illusionary non-linearity, and achievements. This game passes our replayability test. Thus Mass Effect 2 is a game that you are able to play more than once due to these factors.
|Super Mario Bros. (NES)|
Let’s take Super Mario Bros on the NES through our test. Let’s see… hmm it has none of these except multiplayer … sort of. I guess this game doesn’t qualify as being replayable meaning you will play this game once and instantly return it since it offers no replay value… or does it? That’s odd, I can remember back in the day playing this game over and over because it was a fun game. When did our definition of replayability go from being a fun game, to having gimmicky qualities like multiple endings?
Gone are the days when video games were bought from the sole value of being a quality piece of entertainment, not whether the ending changes or it has multiplayer. It’s a shame really that we are limiting the creativity of game developers by forcing these characteristics upon games in order for them to sell. It’s a perfectly understandable argument that you would like to have these qualities in a game to provide maximum value since video games are a chunk of money these days. However back in the day, console video games were about the same price that they are now (sometimes more expensive) and today’s dollar is worth LESS than it was in the 90’s and 80’s.
|Atari Newspaper Ad|
Let me give my own definition of what replayability checklist of qualities I look for. In order for a game to have replayability for me… it must be a fun game that shows the love and creativity of the developers behind it. Maybe I’m to forgiving, maybe my logic is flawed; maybe I just come from a different generation of gamers. I’m curious as to your opinions of the obsession of the term replayability. Is your concern on based on the cost of the game or what affects your purchasing decisions?