Video games are now releasing literally every day of the year. With such a huge amount of content coming into the market, many wonder why such a small amount of games break into the mainstream. Even many Triple-A titles tend to flop, even if they’re from acclaimed series. Just what is it that determines which games are great and which ones are going to be forgotten? If you follow the market, you will learn that there are several key ingredients that must be present to make a gaming classic. Below are five features that drive the most famous video games ever made.
5. Content Management
The first big contributor to a game is the plans that come after release. DLC has become a regular part of the industry, as have live service games like Genshin Impact. Good games have a roadmap for their post-release content. You will also notice that most of these games are fairly balanced without any pay-to-win walls. If the game isn’t live service, then any planned DLC should expand upon an already complete game instead of adding in needed story content like seen with Kingdom Hearts 3.
DLC and live service games can be great. Things hit a wall, though, when they become more of a way to get money from players instead of a way to enhance the game itself. Stardew Valley is another great example as it’s free updates have continued to keep the game set apart from all other farming sim competitors on the market. Even games that go overboard with cosmetic DLC can come off wrong to gamers, as franchises that are constantly putting out DLC aren’t seen in a great light.
4. Sleek Mechanics
How many games have you tried with clunky or seemingly unfinished mechanics? One of the major features of gaming is the controls themselves. When games are unpolished, have inconvenient controls, or don’t have robust combat system, things go bad. Some games simply can’t get good timing down, while others feel like you are playing with ancient tank controls and not the good type. Some games even fall into the category of boring controls, where you are just fighting with a single button.
Even worse happens when you face a clunky UI that’s hard to navigate. Upgrading abilities in these games and inventory management can turn into a complete nightmare. When you have to go through endless menus to gain a new power, you lose time you could be spending actually enjoying the title. A good example of an easy to use UI can be seen in games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and the Pokemon franchise.
3. Deep Side Content
Many games these days are open world, and even if there aren’t, they contain side content such as bonus story levels. One of the worst features to come across is empty open worlds or an endless line of fetch quests. It can be even worse if side stories focus on characters who don’t get any positive character development. This can often be found in RPGs where the characters are a main focus. For a good example of a game that handles side content well you can look at Persona 5 and The Witcher 3.
This isn’t just prominent in modern games, the success of The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask is often linked to it’s side content. Gamers have always enjoyed have access to good content that doesn’t just revolve around the main story. In fact, while side content isn’t a needed feature, it does tend to be one that usually ehances games. On the flip-side, if side content is grindy, players are willing to have a lower opinion of the game.
2. Intricate Soundtrack
One of the most expersses features in gaming is the use of music. Music is used to create moods and many composers in the gaming scene train for years on how to make the perfect atmosphere. Other games, like Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto, even use radio music to create their soundtrack. This helps to give the game a unique feel and in many cases when players hear a certain song, they will instantly think back to fun moments in the game. This can be seen with Power by Kanye West, that plays during a big scene in Saints Row 3.
Games with scores that match an atmosphere often tend to heighten players emotions. A bad song choice can make a sad scene offputting and a horror scene comedic. While gamers may not clamour to buy the score of games they play, music is one of the most important ingdients in any title. Bad sound design in gaming is a nightmare. Sometimes using the wrong tracks can even annoy players enough to completely stop plating a title.
1. Fulfilling Lore
Another huge factory in popular games tends to be there lore. While simple stories can be winners, usually the most popular games tend to have complex lore. This means that game througly fleshes out it’s world using any means neccasary. In certain RPGs this is done by putting text in books, placing unique sidequests around the map, or simply by leaving notes around dungeons. By giving everything in the world a story players feel more invested in whats going on around them.
Elden Ring and the Souls titles in general are great examples of this feature. While you may think the world feels empty at first, you quickly learn that the lore runs deep. Games like these set out to pull the player into a complex world with a robust history. In the case of games where your choices change things around you, replays are more likely to happen. This means that you can learn more about the world by playing through the game again. Likewise you can do this without feeling bored of seeing the same events over and over again.