Up For Debate - Are Graphics the Most Important Factor When You Decide to Buy a Game?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 4:00 PM

A recent survey by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) raised some interesting questions. The ESA polled a number of players throughout 2016 in an effort to spot industry trends and understand why gamers were choosing to buy the games they are. What stood out to me was that the single over-riding reason why those polled bought games is because of the quality of the graphics. A massive 67% said it influenced the purchase of their games.

More of those polled valued the visual quality of the game than the price, the premise, the story, online gameplay, it being a sequel, or it being similar to another game they liked. Which, er, is kind of mind-blowing to me really.

One caveat with this is that the ESA appears to have forgotten the chief element which separates a game from just being a movie or a book - the quality of the gameplay, and indeed whether it’s even any fun. I can only presume this wasn’t a polling option because I’d expect that to be the dominant reason in any game purchase. Who knows though, maybe I am wrong and people are happy to pay for a bad game as long as the visuals look incredible. I’ve definitely been guilty of that once or twice in the past. Say hello, Ryse: Son of Rome.

That isn't to say great graphics are a bad thing, it's a plus point to be sure. After all, that's why often spend thousands on getting the best hardware to do the job, and it's one of the chief perks of PC gaming when stacked up against the fixed hardware of consoles which rapidly shows its age.

So let’s try and set the record straight. Let’s do the same poll, but with the addition of fun gameplay, and see what results we get on GD. We can find out just what the most important factor is when deciding to buy a game among the GD community. Are you massively swayed by the visuals? Does a bargain price tempt you? Get voting below! You can vote up to three times, picking the three most important factors, and be sure to share why in the comments!

What are your 3 most important factors when buying a game?

Our favourite comments:

If the Story and Gameplay are good the rest will start to feel less important.

Finished and Good Optimized pc game should be a must, it should not be compromised for some greedy agenda!

Gamers need to understand that they really have the power to say "F#%k you!" to gaming companys when it comes to any kind of greedy agendas like false marketing, insane requirements to scam you into buying new hardware, poor optimized games, butchered game into dlcs, drm and i'm sure many other shady stuff that can't remember right now.

KOBE23

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07:27 Apr-30-2017

As long as it's not Bubsy 3D-like graphics, then visuals are of no concern to me. Storyline and gameplay win hands down.

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16:45 Apr-27-2017

A good example of how gameplay/story trump graphics for me is the first Dishonored. Though I don't know much about graphics engines, I read that the one it was built on was kind of old. However, the stealth/action and story just drew me in.

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10:41 Apr-28-2017

yea it was built on older UnrealEngine, storyline, gameplay and style/theme of that game is awesome :D

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19:19 Apr-26-2017

For me, it would go in this order, top are story and gameplay, mainly if game can make me interested enough to stick around and want to see more. Then there is price and DLC, I don't like games with 60EUR game tag + 60EUR DLC plan. Then it is graphics, mainly if it works well with what game is trying to be.

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19:21 Apr-26-2017

Online multplayer is cool to have, but not too important in most cases for me. Sequels not really, unless game is made to have sequels, but that can really suck, if they cancel it, Deus EX and D4 come to mind... As of based on something I like, it is not really important for me,but I don't mind it either,if it is good.

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14:36 Apr-24-2017

Gameplay and story, and because of my financial limitations, price. Although we have only 3 choices, I have to say, that I'd also choose graphics, i.e, I dont want those games, which have like 96% approval rating on Steam, but when you look at the screenshots, its just a bunch of lines. Extremely minimalist aint my thing.

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09:39 Apr-24-2017

Games are like cakes. It relies on the taste (gameplay) and it's frosting (graphics) just finishes off an already good product. All frosting and no taste, no one likes that, do they?

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08:01 Apr-24-2017

A game can't stand on good graphics. A game can only stand on good gameplay or story or characters (or all combined). Good graphics enhances a good gameplay and story experience.

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23:42 Apr-23-2017

I've played through some pretty bad stories because the gameplay was fun, prototype, the force unleashed, call of duty, shadow of mordor. fun to play is the reason i run a game a 2nd time and keep playing after it's beat

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05:02 Apr-27-2017

When I played Prototype I wasn't that smart enough to understand that the plot was almost non-existent. But during Shadow Of Mordor, all I could think of was, "Damn, this is dumb". Still, the Nemesis system was quite fun, even though I could never fully understand it.

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08:38 Apr-27-2017

The beauty of Shadow of Mordor is that you don't have to care 1 bit about the story and manipulate events like you please - so basically, make your own story.


As for Prototype, it was a major hype!... for 1 week, then it got borring

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15:44 Apr-23-2017

If the Story and Gameplay are good the rest will start to feel less important.


Finished and Good Optimized pc game should be a must, it should not be compromised for some greedy agenda!


Gamers need to understand that they really have the power to say "F#%k you!" to gaming companys when it comes to any kind of greedy agendas like false marketing, insane requirements to scam you into buying new hardware, poor optimized games, butchered game into dlcs, drm and i'm sure many other shady stuff that can't remember right now.

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15:13 Apr-23-2017

I can't vote on this. I am evenly split between game play, story, and graphics. To be honest if a game looks bad enough I cannot play it even if the other parts are phenomenal. A good example of this is the game Zelda: Wind Waker. I was a huge Zelda fan back when it originally launched, but all of that ended quickly once I saw how terrible that specific Zelda game looked. I tried to play it and just couldn't. The awful graphics and art style direction of that game completely pulled me away from the story and game play. There was no way for me to focus on those things with such awful visuals.

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14:46 Apr-23-2017

Story or gameplay mechanics - which-ever comes first. If both do, then its a bonus. I'm sure, that if the game tickles your interest in the right way, any bad ganmeplay mechanic can be overcome (for me, it was Mass effect 1: it took me 6-to-7 tries to finally start the game and continue it, despite the awful gameplay)

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11:58 Apr-23-2017

I know a lot of people will hate me after writing this. When I bought the Witcher 3, I liked the story and the graphics were nice and all. But gameplay I heavily disliked, and so after 2 hours of playing it.. I haven't touched it ever again.


So ya Gameplay trumps over everything else. No matter how good the other elements are, the gameplay has to be top notch.

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12:11 Apr-23-2017

Why would people hate you over this ?
I've never finished Witcher 1 for example, because I couldn't stand that combat system.
Witcher 2 and 3 on the other hand heavily refined and changed the combat system and I found it really fun to play.

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12:47 Apr-23-2017

Because from my experience. Whenever I stated my reasons for disliking The Witcher 3. They'll get offended and argue for no reason because I don't like the game. Not saying everyone does this, but generally I've noticed that fanboys get pissy with me because I didn't like their favourite game.

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12:53 Apr-23-2017

Well it's people with child-like thought pattern to be more accurate.
I personally do NOT like most GTA games as I find them boring due to lack of activity apart from the main story and the main story makes you go from A to B without any action more than enough times, just to stall and increase play time... plus the recent games' stories were boring... and everytime I mention that I think GTA is NOT good, it's like saying to Hitler that you are a jew... you get shot at by a 4 million army of fanboys...

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13:18 Apr-23-2017

GTA is boring when you finish the main story and then you play it for a longer time after that. But it's always fun to start the GTA after some time of not playing it and go around mass-murdering everybody,or driving around the hardly-accessable parts of the map...

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15:15 Apr-23-2017

I absolutely hate GTA games. All of them.

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22:04 Apr-27-2017

Same here... I mean I like the stories of Vice City and GTA III, but I hate the gameplay, mechanics and activities in all of them...

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14:34 Apr-23-2017

Depends when and where you write what you dislike. If u say this to TW3 page they'll dislike u, its normal. For example as the people above said I've never finished TW1 (bad combat system) TW2 (too). But they've drastically improved their combat system in TW3 and graphics and for that i like this game more than 1 and 2, but imo its not worth to buy it when u finish the game on net cafe..

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11:55 Apr-23-2017

Story>Gameplay>Grahics I really just love a good story (Alan wake for example)

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10:05 Apr-23-2017

Gameplay>story>graphics

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09:55 Apr-23-2017

I prefer performance over quality. A smooth game is a good game.

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10:04 Apr-23-2017

But don't confuse demanding games, for poorly optimized ones, just because you got the strongest hardware.

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08:41 Apr-23-2017

For me its Gameplay then story then the graphics matter....

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08:37 Apr-23-2017

Quite the contrary. Graphics are the least important factor for me. In decreasing order of what's important for me in a game, Gameplay>Gameplay>Story.

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08:36 Apr-23-2017

For me;
Online->repeatedly (moba's dota 2) or RTS starcraft 2.
I think diablo is RPG game so i'll go with it too. D2 didn't had great graphics but the gameplay was good and kept me hours playing it.
For single player:
Propably optimization first so I can run this game and then comes gameplay->story->graphics.
For example I play assassin's creed because of the story which I like it.

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08:38 Apr-23-2017

Some games keep me playing them new/old because of story/gameplay/nostalgia or some games that infinite no matter how many times you play it. Dota 2/fifa. But as many other people said it depends on the game. Some games you play it for the story, some for the multiplayer, some with friends etc...

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08:34 Apr-23-2017

Graphics the Most Important Factor When You Decide to Buy a Game? = No


-gameplay
-story
-graphics

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08:32 Apr-23-2017

Easy and immediate gameplay ( I mean not complicated and stressful tutorial, I'm too old now)
Graphic (although I'm a retro gamer as well)
Story (the true thing I check first latelly)
Price (sometimes I play a game just because is on sale on Steam XD)

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07:31 Apr-23-2017

gameplay
story
sequel/graphics

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Ryzen 3 2300X 4-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 6500 XT 4GB 16GB
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Core i5-2400 3.1GHz GeForce GTX 460 MSI Hawk v1 1GB Edition 8GB
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