I know what it means to play a game for a long time. I currently have at least 634 hours of Wold o Warcraft. That's a lot of game time. On my character Akoris, my level 70 Paladin has about 20 Days of playing time. That is 480 hours of playing. It really says something about the game when it can hold interest for that long. But why do games strive to hold our interest for such a long time? For a game like WoW, there is a monetary incentive for it: the longer people play, the more subscription fees they collect. Yet that isn't the case with a game like Oblivion, which an entirely offline, single player game. There were times when Donkey Kong, a 2D platformer, was the pinnacle of gaming, being fun and easy to pick up.
Why do we strive for depth in our games? It isn't about just shooting people over and over and over. People enjoy novelty in games, which is why Geometry Wars can be fun. It is certainly different to fly around shooting shapes. Yet, that doesn't remain fun. The game eventually introduces different modes in the game, different guns and more shapes and more enemies. Yet that game looses it fun after a while because it is always the same. That is where WoW gets its fun. There is always more. More areas, more spells, more levels, more dungeons, more fights, more gear and more quests. Is this truly fun,. or is all this new stuff just renewed novelty? Is depth just renewed novelty? Just an effort to give us new stuff all the time? Maybe depth is just an excuse to not come up with something fun, just give us so much that we think what we do is fun. We are constantly impressed by all the new stuff that we are getting that we fail to realize that what we did wasn't fun.
Depth might be good for players who really want to play and for people who are veterans to the game, but does it stop some players from playing? WoW is about to release the new expansion pack Wrath of the Lich King which raises the level cap to 80. 80! That is quite a milestone. For players at the current level cap of 70, that is only 10 more levels. But to a newbie, that is 80 levels. Blizzard did cut the experience required to get from 20-60, a process that seemed to have been largely ignored by the game's designers which is evident is the amount of ingenuity put in. But that is still a long ways to go and a lot of things to do. Is the amount of depth in a game like WoW a good thing or would it scare off new players? Team Fortress 2 is running into this problem. It gave players unlockables which rewarded players for laying well. But, all these new weapons and perks give them an unfair advantage over their lesser experienced counterparts. Could these barriers to entry be a reason that a game like Counterstrike:Source is so successful? It is still being played in record numbers today, with thousands of servers still up and tournaments being held around the globe. The money system in that game allows players to buy better guns, but that resets after every game. Pros and novices start out with the exact same amount of money in the beginning. Will Team Fortress 2 still be as popular 4 years from now? Or will these new unlockables keep piling up so much that new people will not want to start playing and experienced players will stop playing because things stop being new.