Let me tell you why I haven’t bought No Man’s Sky yet: I’m skeptical that I’ll still be playing it three months, or even one month from now. I’ve had friends hyping about this game since it was announced, and none of them seem to hear my concerns. If there’s no story, what’s going to keep me playing? Sure the universe is almost infinite and has nearly endless variety, but won’t I still get tired of exploring? Will I get to play with my friends, a la Star Trek?
Sure enough, these have all been identified as weak points in the game (at least according to most of the reviews I’ve read). So, I think I’ll hold off on spending that $60 until (if ever) they make some changes to that. $60 can get me a lot of sandwiches, so I want to spend that money wisely. This whole predicament has gotten me thinking about replayability. Some of the best games – Dark Souls, League of Legends, Minecraft, Call of Duty (alright, maybe not the best, but at least the most popular) – have all made their mark not just because of their uniqueness or groundbreaking game engines, but because they know how to get people coming back for more. Even games that you’re not going to beat over and over again can still replayable; just look at the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. You may not end up running seven playthroughs, but the story is so rich and beautiful that many players end up with upwards of a hundred hours per playthrough. You beat the game feeling like it was really worth the money you spent.
You don’t have to even have a story to have high replayability. Just look at Minecraft! In that game, you can always have something to do. If you get bored, it’s super easy to just say “Hmm, I don’t really like that mountain there. I think I’ll put a castle there instead,” and proceed to spend a week crafting and building.
E-Sports are another great example. My personal favorite, League of Legends, has so many people playing because it never really gets old. Each match is unique, and there’s always room for advancement and improvement. The only reason I stopped playing was because I didn’t have time to play seven games a day once I started school.
The secret to making a great game is to make a game that people want to invest their time and money in. When I buy a game, the first question is, “will I still be playing this three months down the line?” When the answer has been “yes,” I’ve never been disappointed.