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You Can’t Quantify Replay Value

You Can’t Quantify Replay Value

Filed inside: Editorial

I want to talk about replayability. At first, I wanted to discuss how that isn’t even a word, but my thoughts became incoherent from anger. Besides, there is this wonderfully vulgar article that gets the point across more effectively than I ever could. Instead, I would like to discuss the idea behind replay value and how, despite its seeping into gaming vernacular, it is an undeniably ridiculous concept.

GameInformer, one of the most trusted video game media outlets – it is impressively currently the third largest magazine in the U.S. – actually highlights this facet of every single game in any title it covers with a full review. “Replay Value” even gets its own category and rating! Here’s the rundown:

  • High – You’ll still be popping this game in five years from now.
  • Moderately High – Good for a long while, but the thrills won’t last forever.
  • Moderate – Good for a few months or a few times through.
  • Moderately Low – After finishing it, there’s not much reason to give it a second go.
  • Low – You’ll quit playing before you complete the game.

I respect that the outlet doesn’t use some arbitrary numerical or letter grade score to rate this category, which is a huge issue I take when I see anyone rating anything. However, it still leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, the desire to not use a rating system on a category that shouldn’t really exist.

See, the problem I have with this rating system is that it seemingly acts as if it understands every single person and, thus, applies to every single person. Which is, just, no.

For example, the outlet gave Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth a “moderately low” replay value rating. “Not much reason to give it a second go,” they say. Meanwhile, a game with “high” replay value is one I’ll still be playing in 5 years. Well, nearly four years later and I’m still playing that game. I play it and every game in the series at least 1-2 times per year. Contrary to what I’ve been told, that’s some high replay value.

Most people think that playing a visual novel that much is strange. You’re probably thinking the same thing reading this. However, do you not reread your favorite books or re-watch your favorite movies? That’s what the Ace Attorney series is for me. I know where the story will lead nowadays, sure, but the first time I played each game, I was blown away by the delightful characters, and twisting, turning and interconnecting storylines.

I replay the games because I like to see how events unfold, see how those stories connect, and see if I can find small details in dialogue or background designs I may have missed previously. I even restarted the game immediately upon finishing. “Moderately low” replay value? Pffft.

On the other end of the spectrum, Naughty Dog’s exceptional The Last of Us gets a “moderately high” replay value. Yet, I haven’t been able to muster up the motivation to pop that disc back in once I finished it. (Perhaps when the Left Behind DLC releases in February…)

LastofUs_THUMB

Yes, I am aware there are online multiplayer modes to keep the fun going on, but I don’t care for the certain types of online multiplayer it has to offer. Obviously that feature won’t get me to keep playing. I care about well-crafted single player campaigns, intriguing storylines, and beautifully developed and deep characters, so you would think that, like the Ace Attorney series, I’d be itching to experience it again. Seven months later and no such luck.

Out of the three aforementioned aspects that I care about, I believe The Last of Us is lacking the second. This is an opinion I will easily get blasted for, but you need to understand that while the narrative is remarkably told, it isn’t anything I haven’t seen or heard before. I liken it to the Avatar movie in that regard (the James Cameron one, not that abomination based on the brilliant animated series).

The game is a spectacle with eye-popping visuals and some fine characters that surely deserves its accolades, but the (well-executed) narrative itself felt relatively basic. It’s hard to get really invested if you can guess where the story will go. But, I’m getting sidetracked.

The point of this editorial isn’t to berate one of the best games of the previous generation (which I enjoyed, by the way). No, I am just trying to illustrate that neither the single nor multiplayer modes has been able to keep me playing The Last of Us. I would currently give the game a “low” replay value, if I had to, because that’s the way the game was for me.

And that’s exactly the point! The outlet’s reviews for two unrelated games just told me how much I’m going to enjoy those games and for how long. Both were wrong. I would prefer to not presume how much someone else will like those or any other games. What I experience does not in any way guarantee what you will experience and vice-versa. Like all categories that video gaming outlets like to rate, “replay value” is something that cannot be quantifiably measured.

Just as much as “replayability” is not a word.

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Written by Erik Sugay

I'm in the businesses of news curating, localization and multimedia design. I absolutely adore video games, graphic novels and all things related to geek culture, if you couldn't tell by the picture to your left.

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