: Editorial: Are Easier Games A Bad Thing...Really?

Members Login: Register | Why sign up? | Forgot Password?

Editorial: Are Easier Games A Bad Thing...Really?

The debate rages between the hardcore and casual gamers; the former maintain that easier games are hurting the industry and the overall quality of the entertainment, while the casuals claim that accessibility is what makes games fun, as they're supposed to be. For quite some time, I was on the fence regarding this issue, but I've come to a conclusion...well, a semi-conclusion, anyway.

Look, I certainly understand the hardcore train of thought. Back in the day, the console games were derived from their arcade counterparts, and hence, were almost as difficult to beat. Essentially, many were impossible without a code, and it's the primary reason we attempted to feed our NES controllers to the dog after a particularly frustrating round of Contra. "Beating" a game in those days was like obtaining a badge of honor; one would wear it proudly in school, and others would be downright awed. "Woah...you beat it?! Really?" Heck, most of the time, the less skilled gamers had to be happy with beating their own high score or reaching a new level; actually "beating" the game was most decidedly out of the question. And due to the social aspect of the early days, where all the geeks were into games, the fans liked having something over their more popular classroom brethren.

Sure, the jocks may get all the girls and go to parties on Friday night, but they sure as sh** couldn't beat Revenge of Shinobi, now could they? Nowadays, those same hardcore gamers are grown up, and don't particularly like the fact that those same jocks can now beat 90-95% of the games on store shelves. All it really takes these days is time, and perhaps not so much in the way of ability. This is the driving force behind the hardcore's complaints; don't be swayed by this high-and-mighty, "oh, it's hurting the industry" nonsense. That is completely illogical; despite the idea that the "purity" of past generations can never again be matched (an idea which I do believe), there's no denying that games continue to advance and get better with every passing year. The industry is still very much in a growth phase. Really, it all comes down to the fact that the hardcore are bitter and annoyed. What only they could do at one point - something their school rivals couldn't - can now be done by just about everyone.

And I understand that point of view. I do. But at the same time, one can make an argument that the vast majority of gamers play games to have fun, and I refuse to believe that anything that feels like a chore can be considered "fun." For example, I am quite proud of the fact I beat both Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry 3 on Normal difficulty; they were two of the most brutally difficult games of the last generation. But I'm proud because I'm not so great at such games; I'm sure the hardcore action aficionados would just laugh at me. But having played games for a quarter-century, I do consider myself more skilled than the majority of gamers out there, which must mean the vast majority aren't interested in a chore. I understand the concept of accomplishment; of being thrilled and excited and besting a truly challenging video game. But these days, I really just want to have fun, and the new, easier difficulty levels are helping me achieve my goal.

Developers seem to be headed in one direction concerning the subject at hand, but in other ways, they're also jumping all over the place. Take the DMC franchise, for instance. The first was hard, the second was easy, the third was brutal, and the fourth was somewhere between the first and second. They just keep jumping around, and to be honest, while I loved them all (except for DMC2), I think I had the most fun with DMC4. Why? Because it was challenging enough to make me satisfied with the effort when I completed it, and easy enough so I could have fun ripping apart the baddies. It also had production values and a level of polish the other three didn't have, and that's a typical byproduct of the growing industry. Now, look at Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. With more of an emphasis on action and a more fluid third-person shooter mechanic, Konami opened the door to many gamers who simply had to avoid the series previously...it was just too hard. A friend of mine admitted he could never play the first three, but he adored the fourth.

Is this such a bad thing? Granted, the argument will always rage because neither extreme is the answer; too easy and it gets boring and too hard and it gets irritating. Somewhere in between is the answer, but it will be a slightly different answer for just about everyone. Therefore, it's difficult to say where the line should be drawn, but I can say this: I don't believe the added ease and accessibility in games today is a negative thing. I don't believe it has any impact whatsoever on the inherent quality of a game, nor do I think it makes games less fun for the majority of fans out there. And besides, given the size of the industry now; the sheer level of diversity and amount of different genres and types, the hardcore can still find their tough titles. They'll find them in simulators and in the Hard difficulties of certain action games, and hey, let's not forget that some recent games have a very steep learning curve for the uninitiated. Wipeout HD is a great example of that.

In the end, if we agree that gaming is about entertainment and entertainment is about fun, than I can never agree that making games easier is a bad thing. Hey, we didn't try to smash our old controllers with heavy objects because we were having fun. No, we were pissed. We couldn't beat the damn game, we always died, and we were pissed. Yeah, the hardcore can say that was a big part of the glory days, and in hindsight, all that bashing of controllers was what really made it fun. And in a way, they're right. But in all honesty, I want to keep my controller as long as possible, and I want to wreak havoc like a bad-ass without feeling over-matched. Matched, yes, but not over-matched, and not necessarily under-matched, either. Get me?

9/26/2008 Ben Dutka

Put this on your webpage or blog:
Email this to a friend
Follow PSX Extreme on Twitter

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Share on MySpace Share on Delicious Share on Digg Share on Google Buzz Share via E-Mail Share via Tumblr Share via Posterous

Comments (28 posts)

Bugzbunny109
Friday, September 26, 2008 @ 11:53:26 PM
Reply

i dont really care about a game's difficulty, i mainly care about weather it is a good or bad game. For example MGS4 was easy[ in my eyes] and was an enjoyable game, while kane and lynch was hard[ once again, in my eyes] but a bad game. It could be hard or easy, but in the end its still a good or bad game.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Zapix
Friday, September 26, 2008 @ 11:54:32 PM
Reply

Great piece Ben!
But I do have to argue the breaking of NES controllers... I remember beating those things to death, throwing them, whatnot... LOL, not fun times. But on the point of the matter, was it even possible to break an NES controller?!? I still have my old ones I got xmas of release year with ROB and all (lost poor ROB though :( ) But I get your point though :P
but they sure don't build em like they used to!

It's funny, the first game I played that would fit into this would have been HALO. 5 years ago I thought HALO was stupid and too easy because it was made like that. Little did I realize, I beat the game, something I rarely ever do! I realize it now that I play games more often than I used to (for stated reasons above, just too darn hard) because of that quality.

Hardcore gamers still get difficulty settings, it's not like they're being ignored. Developers need to think about everyone, not a select few who who like to make angry youtube videos from their parent's basement about some game company that betrayed them...

Last edited by Zapix on 9/26/2008 11:55:42 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

firehahahahaha
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 12:07:10 AM
Reply

When I look back at all my old games, I can pretty much say I only ever beat like 2 SNES/Genesis games out of atleast 20. Another thing I got to thinking about while reading this article is the length of the game. The harder games were typically short so even though it took alot to beat, you weren't also playing for months to beat the whole game, so it works on balancing out there. Usualy when a game gets too hard, you basicly just end up wasting money on a game you'll never beat. I gave up on Devil May Cry 3 after like the first couple levels, and it's making me too afraid of Devil May Cry 4 lol. Usualy the developers are good at finding a good balance in between that makes everyone happy, and there is always difficulty levels to make it harder.

And if you guys ever wana play the hardest game ever, you need to try I Wana Be The Guy. Go google it...

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 1:30:50 AM
Reply

I think its good to have a mix, I found Resistance: Fall of Man pretty difficult, it lasted me a good 3 months, & i really enjoyed it, MGS4 I played on BB Hard 1st time, i died alot of times but i enjoyed it.I think a harder difficultly makes games stand out to people, people will keep trying & trying & they'll remember the experience more. Other days though, i like to just relax when i play a game, & just plow through but i never do that on a 1st play through.

What puts me of games is puzzles, i hate being stuck one a puzzle in games, i dont find that fun. A game that i'll keep replaying is a game with a deep story, memorable characters & fun gameplay.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Aftab
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 1:53:04 AM
Reply

Games seem easier, these days, for a couple reasons.
For one, they are, because games are more affordable these days, and there are more people making them as the industry has grown. Sure, they seem more expensive, but let's not forget minimum wage has increased, too. And since more people are making them, and more people are playing them, it doesn't make sense, from a company's perspective, to make a game that some will continue to play forever. It makes sense to make a kind of a game that everyone will buy, and will continue to buy.

Secondly, we also have to remember, we were a lot younger back then, and admittably less skilled, with less of an attention span, etc...Case in point: I'd be surprised if many 10 year olds these days could beat a relatively easy game like DMC4.

And then, I'd like to emphasize games have become more complex, not just in graphics technology, but in controls. Before, for example, when we only had a couple of buttons to press in a scenario-limited 2d world, timing was basically the only thing to vary in order to lengthen gameplay. So, upon trying an older classic, one may feel that their timing is taxed. But I'm sure if it were possible to play a game of today back then, our heads would be spinning from the sheer number of controls, alone!

Whether this is arguably better or worse, is pretty simple answer. Are we still having fun? I would give a resounding "yes". In fact, I'm having more fun than ever.

Last edited by Aftab on 9/27/2008 1:54:19 AM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Advent Child
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 2:13:34 AM
Reply

Personally for all those with a problem. There are harder difficulties for a reason. Take Star Wars: TFU. That game gets damn frustrating for me! That last level where you get like 9 of those big troopers and 3 at-st's thrown at you is just ridiculous. I thought having the force and all those powers was supposed to make you feel badass, but here I am, hiding in a corner popping out every time my force replenishes to throw my lightsaber. Its just lame. I want to be able to feel like a badass! But also there should be harder difficulties for those who want to make every shot count you know?

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Qubex
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 2:58:47 AM
Reply

Hah, being a badass is cool!

Q!

"aLL RoAds LeAd ToO hoMe"

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

jonny_bolton
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 6:04:55 AM
Reply

All I'm saying is... DMC, DMC2, DMC3 and DMC4, completed on Dante Must Die mode...God I'm awesome... :P
Nah but in all honesty, if the normal mode is fair crack for any level of gamer, then so long as the difficulty can be increased/decreased by quite a bit, without the only difference being loads more/less enemies then everyone should be happy.
It shouldn't be too hard to add difficulty levels to a game, especially considering the size of Blu-ray, so why don't all games do it? GTAIV par example...I know a few people who haven't finished it because it got to much later on so why can't they include the option to change levels?

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

www
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 7:14:00 AM

Gta will be ruined with difficulty levels,matter fact i don't really like the difficulty settings,i always finish all games on the NORMAL level n i don't go back to play on a harder level,i might play thru the game again on the same normal level.
Rockstar trully rocks!games should follow they trend

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

jonny_bolton
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 6:10:59 AM
Reply

Oh and in the same vein as NES, when I got my first system, a Sega Megadrive, I think I was like 5 or sumthin and couldn't complete a game to save my life. Granted that was because I was 5 and not because the games were hard though...because one summer my Mum completed Sonic the Hedgehog for me so I could see the ending and remember that was when you had to complete a game in one sitting. And incase you're thinking it may be because she was good at games...well, it wasn't...She's one of those players that flicks the controller in the air to jump.
Also @fire I implore you to dl an emulator and have a crack at all the old games you couldn't complete...you will be disapointed at how easy the games are...

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

orangpelupa
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 6:57:14 AM
Reply

i personally like the games in current generations.

games in NES, SNES, and PS1 are hard. i really need to focus on one game on holiday just to finish it.

PS2 games are a bit easier. like .hack GU, a really easy and fun RPG.

then on PS3, X360 and Wii, game become more and more easier.
i rarely died in Lost Odyssey, Tales of Vesperia also a lot easier than Tales of The Abyss.

this "easy" game allow me to enjoy the story. enjoy the gameplay.

but on the flip side, now i never feel "relieved" or "proud" when i kill Boss or Secret Boss....

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

vampko
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 8:20:20 PM

really? I found Vesparia to be one of the toughest to beat? The wolf boss destroyed me MANY, MANY times over, until I leveled over and over again for hours on end.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

www
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 7:07:09 AM
Reply

No game in ma life has been difficult for me EXCEPT final fantasy series,i always get them n neva complete.MGS n DMC have always been easy.
Ben,i think the reason why DMC 4 is harder than 3 is just because Nero was just too much for the enemies with his DEVIL BRINGER n all,if Nero was to take on the DMC 3 quest it would be a piece of cake.Nero is waaay tooo powerful,sometimes i picture a battle between NERO n Kratos.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 10:21:07 AM

DMC4 is NOT harder than DMC3. DMC3 is probably twice as hard; it's one of the hardest games I've ever played. It's because in the original (not the SE), Capcom screwed up on the North American version and the "Normal" difficulty was actually "Hard." They fixed it in the Special Edition, though; I played both, and the difference is obvious.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

www
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 6:51:46 PM

Oh! big mistake,I mean DMC 4 is easier than 3,sorry

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

vampko
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 8:21:51 PM

Actually...I thought DMC1 was the hardest. Three was quite easy for me. I only died a couple times, and that was at the very last two fights. And yes, I was on the special edition "Hard" mode.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Riku994
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 8:45:17 AM
Reply

Hehe...I remember renting DBZ Budokai and I beat the main story in like 6 hours because I kept dying, and friggin Cell must have taken me an hour to beat alone. My parents almost came and turned off the game I was so mad haha.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

cheng
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 1:43:28 PM
Reply

age is an issue as well, back in the days my bro keep beating me in tekken 2, i was so pissed!! now no matter which tekken i play, i DESTROYED him haha...

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

vampko
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 8:23:52 PM
Reply

Well...I'd have to say that I am QUITE thankful some game companies still put out difficult games. I don't enjoy a difficult game because I can say I'm better than someone. I enjoy it, because it tests my intelligence and reflexes. When a game is easy, it just seems boring to me. I only really feel alive when I'm within an inch of dying and still have ten enemies to take on!

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Aftab
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 9:08:04 PM

Agreed. DMC was cool that way, especially on the higher difficulties. Although I found DMC3 to be a bit easier, the boss fights were more intense, and had an enjoyably faster tempo to them. The last fight with Vergil on DMD had to be one of the most memorable boss fights of all time, especially when the final deathblow was dealt and Vergil would exclamate, "Dante." It actually made me sad.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 9:11:45 PM
Reply

vampko: I can absolutely guarantee that if you thought DMC3 was easier than DMC1, you were playing the Special Edition of DMC3. ...otherwise, there's no logical explanation for that commment. ;)

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

vampko
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 9:34:32 PM

maybe i just got immensely better than when i played the original DMC? Believe me, I made sure I was on the hard mode. It probably is that I was just a lot better than before. I have played many games like it after it.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, September 27, 2008 @ 11:00:31 PM
Reply

Props Ben. Another trip down memory lanes for me. I recall a contest in Nintendo Power for Top Gun, and when my brother beat it and had my mom take a picture of him near the ending screen I was wicked jealous. I also remember us playing mario bros deep into the night and when my 'rents said to turn it off or theyd kill us, we just shut off the TV (they didn't know the difference) and played it on low volume when they left. More to the point: Nowdays I'm a 27 year old man who gets frustrated easily, and I'm happy that many games now have the ability for any reasonably dexterous individual to beat the game. I play to get away from it all, tune out, and become a badass for awhile. Also, I feel like I've wasted my money if I never get to see the ending because it's too hard. Furthermore, games now are on par (better in my opinion) than movies because they now involve epic storylines which are meant to be told in their entirity. Except of course, telling that story to us is entirely in our hands. THAT's what makes you want to buy the sequel. My nintendo controllers were put through crashes that test dummies could never even imagine, and it did give me a sense of accomplishment when I got past that blasted boss or level, but now the last thing I want to do with a game is get pissed off. I too beat "normal" and then never look back. And it isn't all gone, if you listen closely in the dead of night, you can still hear me screaming "God Damn that mother*@!ker killed me again!"

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, September 28, 2008 @ 12:18:37 AM

I think those frustrated cries from millions of gamers around the world are still hanging in the atmosphere somewhere...we'll always be able to hear them. ;)

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Scarecrow
Sunday, September 28, 2008 @ 3:12:46 AM
Reply

Life is balance

Make a game too easy? it'll fail
Make it too hard and it'll only sell to the hardcore.

God of War is the perfect example of what a game should be. Easy to handle, yet hard to beat.

Another great thing games like GOW do is that they give you the OPTION to set your difficulty level and even allow you to change it during the game if you can't handle a harder level.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

vampko
Sunday, September 28, 2008 @ 2:56:45 PM

Exactly, I want the ability to be challenged, and not be forced to take a ride on easy street. Or even Mediocre street. If I was only playing games to "escape" then I could just save tons of money and write/read stories. But, writing can't give me the physical and mental challenge that playing a game has the ability to. I do have a job, and I go to school, but I still crave games that I can put at the least 50 hours into. I prefer 100 , but you can't always get what you want.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Gabriel013
Sunday, September 28, 2008 @ 3:12:58 AM
Reply

As a gamer with limited time, I don't want a game which has me replaying huge sections because I keep dying. I want to play through enjoying the story and get to the end. Job done. If I enjoyed it I can replay the whole thing some other time or otherwise I can trade it in. No one is impressed by MAD LEET SKILLZ for finishing game X on the hardest difficulty. This just makes everyone think you need to get a job. I don't play games to test my abilities, I play them to help me relax and clear my head.

Last edited by Gabriel013 on 9/28/2008 3:13:25 AM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

cr67
Monday, September 29, 2008 @ 5:28:59 PM
Reply

I don't know if it's so much that more people are beating the games per se', than more people having access to cheat codes, walk throughs and whatnot available to them online 24/7. These things just weren't readily available to us back in the Super NES days like they are now. I'm inclined to believe more often than not that most people who claim to beat a game within hours or days of having purchased said game, have gone online to any number of sites and downloaded a walkthrough or some type of cheat codes. (but that's just my opinion and I could be way off) I personally still play games the old fashioned way through trial and error. Which is probably why I'm still trying to get through GTAIV after 4 months! (but I also go days and even a week or two without playing, so I'm not really a "hardcore" gamer)

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Leave a Comment

Please login or register to leave a comment.

Our Poll

The PS4 exclusive(s) reveal in December will be...
MEGATON! Biggest thing evah!
Pretty great, but not mind-blowing.
Something decent but that's it.
A waste of hype.

Previous Poll Results