During Thursday night’s D.I.C.E Summit in Las Vegas, EA chief creative officer Richard Hilleman stated that today’s video games are “too hard” for players to learn.
“Our games are actually still too hard to learn,” Hilleman said during during the on-stage interview. “The average player probably spends two hours to learn how to play the most basic game. And asking for two hours of somebody’s time–most of our customers, between their normal family lives…to find two contiguous hours to concentrate on learning how to play a video game is a big ask.”
Hilleman’s statement was made in response to interviewer Pete Holmes, who explained that he’d prefer it if game controller layouts remained consistent across future game installments and franchises. During the same interview, Shadow of Mordor design director Michael de Plater stated that he believes we’ll see more games picking up the RPG system in the future.
“Every game is an RPG now,” he said. “You wouldn’t make a game without progression and levels and XP. And I think every game is going to be a social game…good ideas propagate.”
Well….that’s funny. Last I checked, most gamers actually believe modern games are getting a bit too easy.
My guess is that Hilleman isn’t exactly speaking to those of us who are 21+ and constantly reminiscing about the good old days when getting through a difficult level meant hours of backtracking and testing items. Now, we have only to open up a walkthrough, turn on quest markers, or ask for an in-game hint when we find ourselves stuck. At the risk of sounding like your typical “back in mah day” snob, the learning curve required for today’s games is certainly not what I’d call ‘difficult’. Tutorials have gotten longer and more in-depth, with efforts to make the player feel comfortable with the mechanics before jumping in.
Now, games like Dark Souls? Those are supposed to be difficult, requiring the player to learn various strategies for defeating a boss. Even the trash enemies between the boss require a fair amount of strategy, and while the games don’t completely leave you in the dark as far as controls, advice, and other features go, it does expect you to use your brain. If you’re expecting to just waltz your way into a room full of monsters and button mash till everything’s dead, you’re gonna have a bad time. It isn’t exactly the standard for most of today’s games, but it does provide players with a challenge.
However, Hilleman does have a point about not having the time to learn a new game. “I’ve been gaming my whole life, but I find it really hard to dive into a title with a complicated leveling and progression system now that I have a family,” says Joey Davidson of TechnoBuffalo. “I can still do it, thankfully, because my actual work day means I have time for complicated games. But, for games I want to play during my off time away from work? I don’t have time for them.”
So…are modern games too hard, or are they still a bit too easy compared to what we grew up with?