Friday, May 14, 2010

The Replayability Myth?

One thing often touted by game developers is the replayability of their games. Particularly in RPGs, the ability for players to make different choices and have lots of different outcomes as a result of these is marked as a selling point.

When I began thinking about the replayability of games was that there are very few games that I have played through multiple times - particularly in recent years. Even some of my most favourite games I have only played through 2-3 times at most.

The aspect of replayability largely seems to be an issue for single player games. Multiplayer games frequently have replayability because their game mechanics are such that much of their interest comes from pitting players against each other. Ever since Doom's deathmatch facilitated people killing each other in real-time glorious fun, gamers have enjoyed hours of (arguably repetitive) multiplayer gaming.

The notable exceptions are things like Diablo 2 (yes, I know it has multiplayer too - but I didn't care about it), where you're using the same character to replay segments of the game in order to gain XP or get better items. But technically in those cases, I suppose you're not replaying the full game like you would in a traditional single player game.

I understand that there are some players that play through the same game many times. I recall hearing that one of the hosts on the Neverwinter Nights podcast had played through NWN2 about a dozen times, and the Mask of the Betrayer expansion about half as many times. I'm not sure I would end up playing a game quite that many times - perhaps I am not quite the hardcore gamer I make myself out to be?

I would be interested to know how many players replay games, how many times they replay them, and does the genre of the game make a difference? Please, readers, let me know your opinions! Yes, that means you. Really. :-)


  1. I think the last single player, storyline type-game I actually replayed (as opposed to started all over again as I'd lost my saves/forgotten what I was doing and had never finished to start with) was Arcanum (a personal favourite which I'd last played back in '04ish I think), last year. And this was only replayed as I played it on my wife's laptop which I'd hijacked as I had to spend five weeks living in a hotel room in Adelaide with no internet. And Arcanum was one of the games I'd decided to take with me. Also - replayability doesn't even enter into it for me anymore. I'm lucky to finish a game nowadays, let alone have time to replay it. I'm still trying to get around to finishing off Mass Effect 1 in the hopes that I might get to Mass Effect 2 next year.

  2. I replay RPGs as I am able. Sometimes I'm simply feeling nostalgic about it and want to revisit it again, perhaps even making some of the very same choices. Sometimes I replay it not long after the first time, wanting to try different abilities with my character. With Dragon Age, I was interested in playing the different Origin stories to see how they played out but haven't had the time like I desire. Being a fellow modder, I replay games far fewer times than I want for lack of time, but if I do like the game I sure enjoy a few runs through it.


  3. I usually play only to RPGs, and I play them only one time, but I've not enough time to play them more than once.

    And I don't think is only a time problem, in the past, when I had time, I played RPGs only one time too.

    I've to say, although, that when I finish a RPG with more than one ending I use to search through internet to see the other endings.

    As much as I remember I never replayed a RPG.

  4. When I do replay its with very similar choices so... do with that info what you will. A nice thing is when the sidequests can be done out of order though thats all I really need to want to replay.

  5. An interesting and varied set of responses so far. It seems I'm not alone in not replaying lots... but I'm keen to hear more thoughts and experience on the issue! Where are the people who replay habitually?

  6. The only single-player RPGs I have replayed a lot are NWN, IWD2 and BG2, primarily due to the class combinations available that can make each run-through different. With the limited classes in DA, that is not possible (even with the specializations since some of them are broken and you have companions with pre-selected specs).
    The only area where DA has replayability is in the Origins' and after that, it's hard to replay the entire game more than a couple of times.

    Some games, like King's Bounty or HoMM, restrict your main hero to a class or race. In these games, replayability is achieved primarily through the different setups and it is possible to get different run-throughs in (especially since most of these have random enemies).

    The last option is min-maxing and replaying to get higher tier items like in Diablo 2 or Titan Quest and I have done that a lot.

    In essence, I would say, at least for me, replayability is very limited in current RPGs (especially since I started frequenting game forums where you are bound to get spoiled with alternate paths/endings making replayability even less enticing!)