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Video Game Design Through the Eyes of a Gamer: What Makes a Game Popular?

Diesen Artickel einschätzen Designing a video game is not easy, and there are numerous considerations to take note of. Let’s take a look at a few popular games and genres and take a look at the potential elements that make them popular: Online Bingo Spiele - Video Game Design Through the Eyes of a Gamer: What Makes a Game Popular?

video games design is an arduous process. Sure, conceptualizing an idea is one thing, but bringing it to form is 90% of the task. Thankfully, with new advances in video game engines and improved digital technology, most developers can bring their ideas to life today.

However, we all know games are commercial products, and it’s all business. A game might be one of the innovative ones to date, but it could be “too revolutionary” for most players to enjoy. In turn, it may not make it to mainstream audiences.

This leads to asking: what makes a game popular? As someone who has played video games for almost two decades, I can safely say there are many factors and considerations.

Tried and tested game design elements vs innovation

GTA V involves a lot of heists...and shootouts

Most games today strike a balance between tried and tested gameplay elements and innovations. It’s a delicate yin-yang situation where developers must try not to be “ahead of themselves.” Sure, innovations are fine, but gamers have to be a tad familiar with them in one way or another.

With that said, let’s look at a few video game genres. For example, there are countless open-world titles, and some of the most notable franchises include GTA, Assassin’s Creed, and Horizon. Their core gameplay involves going through the story and many other side quests while exploring a massive world.

However, all three have massive differences, which is a simple way of putting it. For example, their world, settings, and plot are leagues apart. For instance, Horizon involves fighting giant robots, Assassin’s Creed requires stealthily taking out enemies, while GTA’s staple includes shootouts and car chases.

We’re ushering a new era in game design and creatives

Lady protagonists are now a common fixture in the industry

Like every other commercial product in the market, video games must innovate and deliver new elements to stay relevant. We mostly see this today, even if older games heavily inspire many games.

One good example of a rising trend today is female protagonists. Back in the day, we rarely saw lady protagonists - most of the time, they were either damsels in distress or supporting characters. Today, many take center stage, like Aloy in Horizon, Madeline in Celeste, and Ellie in The Last of Us. In the future, we’ll likely see more, like Frey Holland in Forspoken.

We’re seeing a resurgence in retro and pixel art games in game design. Notable examples include Dead Cells and Stardew Valley. Though their visuals appear a tad dated, their gameplay elements and overall design are comparable to triple-A titles.

Finally, the design does not just affect gameplay but also monetization. Trends like loot boxes and gacha mechanics now take center stage, while battle passes (popularized by DOTA 2 and Fortnite) are a staple in many free-to-play games. Cosmetic microtransactions like character skins are also the norm, with some even making it to single-player games like Assassin’s Creed.

Quality of life, ease of play, and user interfaces

User interfaces also include skill trees, like this one in AC Valhalla

Game design is not just about big worlds or providing some simulation but also about a game’s user interface and menus. This is a problem in massive RPGs since players must navigate across many menus affecting character skills and development, items, and even tutorials. Moreover, it doesn’t only entail how players see but how they interact with the world. Everything needs to be easy and self-explanatory.

For example, Ubisoft has managed to excel in UI design, but on many occasions, some of their games get a bit convoluted due to numerous map markers and in-game elements. On the contrary, Elden Ring goes for a barebones user interface and map design which long-time players of the Souls series love but new players have trouble with.

In a way, this has also affected online casinos and even online real money slots. Service providers not only endeavor to offer a fun gambling experience but also one that is smooth and easy to navigate. After all, if you’re playing in an online casino, you’d want to easily switch between your roulette and blackjack game, right?

All in all, for a game to be popular, it needs to strike a balance between what’s new and what’s familiar while keeping up with the recent trends. Moreover, how players interact with the game through user interfaces and menus will also affect its popularity and, of course, its playability.

In your case, what do you think? Are there other game design factors that affect a game’s popularity?

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