Why Good Games Die Young

With all the new space survival themed games coming out this year, and the recent buzz around No Man's Sky, it makes one wonder- why do games that are so hyped lose players so quickly? You might remember another game published earlier this year by UbiSoft. Tom Clancy's The Division, developed by Massive Entertainment, saw an astounding release and within three months the game had lost 94% of its player base (See full article from pcgamesn here ). So what happened? Why did these games burn out so quickly?

Let's take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum. We will use GTA Online as an example. This game is still close to the top of the directory on Twitch, you can find YouTubers regularly playing it, some of you may still have it installed on your own device. According to Take-Two's CEO, in an article from GameSpot, GTA Online was never intended to be supported this long. So what makes the difference?

You might say the GTA already has an established franchise with a big name publisher behind it. Granted, Hello Games is a new name to the industry, but what about UbiSoft? The Tom Clancy games are a fan favorite. "Well, they are different genres" might be another argument. True, but shooting and looting in space or in the city, you still have a common theme.  So what got everyone so excited and then resulted in a mass exodus?

There are three key elements gamers have come to expect from these type of games.

  1. Multiplayer - Co-op and/or (optional) PvP. Gamers want to share their experiences, that is one reason YouTube and Twitch are so successful. Also, gamers like to compete with (and shoot at) their friends in a virtual world.
  2. End Game Content -  Players what to keep playing after the main storyline is complete.
  3. A Carrot on a stick - If you have heard this phrase before you know what it means. It is the reason people are playing the game however it always seems to be just out of reach.

Now let us look at our three games and see if things make more sense.

No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky clearly had the potential for multiplayer and gamers were very vocal about the lack thereof. There is more than enough end game content because it is a sandbox exploration game but what about the "carrot"? The center of the universe sounds like a pretty lofty goal, but it is a goal- not a "carrot"- there was nothing beneficial or elite about getting to the center, and it was attainable in a fairly short time, according to some players. The problem with having a goal is, that once it's reached players will look for something else.

The Division

The Division defiantly has multiplayer, it is very team based and matchmaking is everywhere. The PvP side of things is a little unconventional. Some even called it a hybrid because of the structure where the player chose an engagement. It seems that the PvP element is meant to be part of the end game content, having to go into the Dark Zone for the best gear but then the question is- why? Get better gear to go into the Dark Zone to get better gear... not really a purposeful goal. This is perhaps an attempt at a hypothetical carrot, but not being clear on this might be one reason players lost interest.

GTA Online

Multiplayer - You bet'cha!
PvP - It's everywhere!
End Game Content - Rockstar releases regular updates with cars, guns, gear, clothes etc. That means there is always something to work towards.
The Carrot -  Rockstar puts a strong emphasis on the fact that you must become the biggest crime boss in the city and with consistent new updates, there is always something to strive for and be better than the rest.

This article is meant to get people thinking not to criticize or diminish any one particular game. The two games in our example that lost a large player base were both excellent in their own right. Each one is unique and brought something new to the table, the potential for success was there. Looking back at our three key elements and applying the missing components, these games could be back on top again.

What makes a good game in your opinion or why do you quit playing after being excited about a new release? Let us know in the comments below.