Advice to Gaming companies

I am a casual gamer. I don’t play games every day, but I do play them, and on 2 different platforms. In addition to that, I read comments on forums and talk to other gamers, and over the last 10 years I’ve learned some things I think you need to know.

1. Hard-core gamers are not the lion’s share of your market. They may make the most noise, but they are the ones who’s demands are driving up your costs while alienating the majority of your customers. If 60% of your customers can’t play a game because the controls are so complicated that they can’t remember them on the 2 days a week they have time to play, your game needs to dial it down.

2. If you’re working on the 2nd game in a franchise (or the 34th, for that matter) that was already a big success – DO NOT CHANGE ANY of the controls that were already established in the first/most recent game. If your last successful game in the series used the (X) button for the ATTACK command, LEAVE IT THAT WAY. Nobody (except the aforementioned HARD-CORE gamers) likes trying to play through the Laura Croft games and having to learn new controls for each game.

3. If your game guide says that certain quests are optional, and not important to the completion of the main quest, then in the name of all Gods of all pantheons, give us the choice to not accept the damn thing into our quest queue if we don’t want to do it! Yes, Bethesda, I am looking directly at you and thinking of the quest “Foresworn Conspiracy” in the Skyrim game.

4. Being able to play a series of games in one franchise, and import one character from one game to the next is AWESOME, and helps us with immersion as we get to know our characters better.  This also means that some of us prefer to go through character creation and create our own characters – our idealized selves, if you will.

5. If your previously successful games in a franchise are SOLO games, don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you will IMPROVE the success of the franchise by alienating solo gamers. It might be possible to add some team-play or MMO characteristics, but don’t do it at the expense of the solo experience. The solo gamers are the ones who bought the last game – they will buy the next if they liked it and the next one includes them in it’s design.

6. Specifically, this is to Sony. I realize that the Playstation is a platform, not a piece of software, but you need to realize that you’re shooting yourself in the foot. If a software vendor like Bethesda not only enables, but encourages gamers to create mods and otherwise alter or update the games Bethesda makes, you need to allow that functionality on your gaming platform. Some of those mods are user-created fixes to real in-game problems that Bethesda didn’t spend the money/time/effort to fix. Like when they totally forgot to activate one (of 26) in-game “Secret Master” in TES 3: Morrowind. None of the official patches to the game ever addressed that, but the Modding community did.

7. Also to Sony – with the launch of the PS4, we realize that the clock is probably ticking on how long you’re going to be willing to support the PS3. That is entirely your right. Can we poor, humble gamers please ask one favor? Officially jailbreak all the PS3’s with the last mandatory update before you discontinue support?

8.  Another thought for Sony – just because I bought the supplemental content for a game does not mean I want to use it every single time I play that game.  Allow me to decide when the add-ons are needed, instead of making them “always active” once I complete the download.

User Experience

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