Up For Debate - What Keeps You Playing The Same Game For Years?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Feb 3, 2019 4:00 PM
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With games as a service (GaaS) now a cornerstone of successful AAA gaming, player retention has never been more important. It’s no longer to get the sixty bucks from a game sale, now they want you hooked into the game, the community, and everything about it for years to come.

But keeping players hooked long-term isn’t just a magic button that’s flipped. The number of GaaS titles that fail far outnumber the amount that succeed. There is a formula, sure, but you can see from the various failed attempts that even great games can struggle to keep players around if the ongoing support isn’t interesting enough.

Rocket League. Rainbow Six Siege. Overwatch. PUBG. Fortnite. DOTA 2. These games do what others can’t. They all months or years old and yet their popularity never seems to wane. The big question is why? What are these games doing above and beyond everything else?

In order to be a success, GaaS need players to keep coming back day after day, week after week and even year after year. Do this, and avoid the dreaded churn of players dropping the game, and a game will grow exponentially.  

But there needs to be a core with enough to feel like players are constantly mastering systems, as well as enough updates and changes to keep it fresh while retaining as near-perfect balance as is feasible. New maps, new characters, new weapons, new modes, new missions. There also needs to be a throughline of progression, whether that’s leveling up, higher rankings, tournaments, cosmetic unlocks, challenges, etc.

All of these aspects ideally need to work in concert for a game to succeed as a service. Take out even one element and you could find yourself with a dud. Remove depth, for example, and the most committed players will have nothing left to learn. The very best arguably combine immense depth with pick-up-and-play simplicity. The Rocket Leagues of the world. Something like Fortnite arguably lacks depth outside of its building but works around this through a torrent of content updates, timed events, and special events, ensuring freshness is always right around the corner.

By now I should imagine most of us have a GaaS title that we like to fall back on. The sorts of games that we could pick up every few days or weeks, check out the changes, and immediately settle back into a familiar rhythm.

Of all the aspects that tribute to a successful service game though, which do you think are the most important, and why? Get voting for whichever you think are the most important in the poll below, you’ve got three votes!

What Keeps You Playing The Same Game For Years?

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23:00 Feb-04-2019

The size of the game, if gameplay, story or something makes it interesting to keep exploring. Gameplay depth and progression systems, if they are interesting. And replay value, if game gives me ton of options and perhaps even playstyles, so my latter playthrough can feel different than previous one.

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23:02 Feb-04-2019

Of course extra content also helps, if we get more via content patches or via DLC/expansions, they can give you something new to do, but it really depends on the size and what they add or how interesting it is. Also visual progression of my character can also keep me going.

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23:02 Feb-04-2019

damn thats a lot of conditions

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23:07 Feb-04-2019

They don't need to be all present at once. I mean I am not complaining if they are. But at least one or two are nice.

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09:10 Feb-04-2019

Skyrim: because of modding.
Tekken 7: because of competitiveness n gameplay.

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06:23 Feb-04-2019

Ive dropped about 3000 hours combined in F1 2013,15,17, 900 in NFS Rivals, 2000 in 2010's Hot Pursuit, 280 in Blackflag 800 in the entire crysis series, 387 in Battlefield 3, but only 160 hours in Division and 53 in destiny2 which is a GAAS

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06:28 Feb-04-2019

as far as my experience goes These GAAS are really just games with 8 dlcs rather than 3 spread over 2-3 years. and they limit player creativity because their future systems and progression are then invalidated. look at destiny and divisions

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06:33 Feb-04-2019

multiple god damn currencies. and no unlike RPG Games these are not different resources these are legit currencies introduced with new updates since everyone now has a bank full of the previous ones. all to buy the new gear or weapon upgrad

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06:37 Feb-04-2019

upgrades. division is an awesome game a very much repaired game since 1.8 but it is still not what was promised in E3 2013 (forget the graphics) there was no point to the resources i mean this is a post apocalyptic world just read player su

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06:39 Feb-04-2019

suggestions they really thought about insane features to grow the game to something completely differnt. but no they abonded it all for a sequel thats the traditional gaming model not GAAS look at warframe not played it yet but thats amazin

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06:42 Feb-04-2019

amazing how they fixed the game and built it up from there, even GTA 5 is a better example for GAAS and most definitely Rainbow 6. for a game to succeed you need to give players the freedom to make the game your own and create your own expe

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06:46 Feb-04-2019

experience. now that's just a ****ty line used by marketing. thats why CD Project RED get the respect they get forget everything its player first and their experience with the game not check-boxes you need to make sure are provided by you

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06:48 Feb-04-2019

rocket league is mentoined by many gamers here but its still the same basics player first. but yeah i do hope a TRUE GAAS is in the works to really let me and my friends have fun and waste more of our life away

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05:31 Feb-04-2019

Over 2500 hours in rocket league and still loving it!

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00:35 Feb-04-2019

For me it's the gameplay depth and patches. I used to play A.V.A for years simply because imo it had the best sniping mechanic and the gun-weight/feedback was awesome. After the SEA server got shutdown I still haven't found a good replacement for the game.

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22:01 Feb-03-2019

For a game to last as a ,,Game as a service'',it needs:
1.Fresh content
2.Free content because we already payed for the game.
3.devs talking with players

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20:11 Feb-03-2019

Huh... this question really made me think.


I'm not sure, but i think being able to turn off my brain and just auto pilot in a game is what keeps me coming back, fast paced games tho..


for example cod4 i could just auto pilot and go click on peoples heads,
rocket league is the same thing but i need to score goals,
overwatch was different tho, it had a learning curve i needed to learn positioning, ult tracking, regrouping, but after playing so long its second nature..

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19:36 Feb-03-2019

I keep going back to games like Factorio, Slay the spire even Doom 2016 or other games that only reason to play it is not "see how the story ends", but a gameplay that i really like, even if rarely i replay a story driven game.

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18:33 Feb-03-2019

The game I always end up coming back to is ARK. I've got a ton of hours into ARK and would have to say it's probably my favorite game of all time. I guess you could say the reason for that is the amount of freedom it offers, the sheer amount of ways it allows you to kill things, the variety of things you can tame, the different ways you can move around the map, the building, exploration, boss fights. Through 3 expansions and a ton of user content, it's like you never run out of things to do.

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23:38 Feb-03-2019

Ark has been my go to game for over 3 years and only cost me £30 including the season pass.

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01:49 Feb-04-2019

Same, got the game for $20 on the first day of early access, waited for the season pass to go on sale, and got all 3 expansions for $20..... $40 in for as many hours of enjoyment(and frustration lol) as this game has provided me...... probably best deal ever lol.

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18:01 Feb-03-2019

I'd say core gameplay and story are two most important factors for me making a game enjoyable and worth revisiting, which severely lacks on games nowadays especially ones past 2010. GaaS is not woth even checking out as they implement some form of limiter hampering the little enjoyability that exists.

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18:27 Feb-03-2019

Agreed, though I do like multiplayer games too, I prefer singleplayer games far more.

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17:37 Feb-03-2019

The fact that it wasn't there to make plenty of money, but the main focus was on entertaining the player.

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17:03 Feb-03-2019

How about fun gameplay?

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17:07 Feb-03-2019

y have the point, i dont rememberr when did i last time i played something and had fun

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17:48 Feb-03-2019

+1 Absolutely. The core gameplay is what gets you to play it, but you will get bored if there is no new content, which is why I like yearly sequels to games with great core gameplay.

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20:50 Feb-03-2019

Until the yearly sequels make the IP a milking cow, sadly...

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21:17 Feb-03-2019

It's not milking if it's good... Yearly releases rock as long as the quality and content quantity as at least as good as the prequel or of course better. How I wish all my favorite series would have yearly or at least semi-yearly releases while having the same quality and quantity or better. drool

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16:58 Feb-03-2019

for me when it comes to multiplayer games it's all about a mix of a good community where you can easily make new friends, expanding history and gameplay... which is why i have over 13.000 hours in runescape gained over 13 years on the same game account

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16:59 Feb-03-2019

And i'm still not maxed

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17:01 Feb-03-2019

I don't have that much time under my belt in RS, but my account is also very old (I think it's 12 or 13 years now) and that's the only multiplayer game that draws me back.

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20:51 Feb-03-2019

F**king hell 13.000 hours in one game, I have some 19000 in 25 years of gaming. Well played :D

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16:57 Feb-03-2019

Just to vent - timed events are what make me NOT want to play the damn game... F**king Capcom with their MH: World... impossible for a working person to catch up with every event that they have, ffs...

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16:48 Feb-03-2019

3rd place is for honor with 500+h in it and becous i like the medivl yet fantasy setting
2nd place is Battle of the immortal and idk maby bec it was one of first mmo games i ever played and i did becous i liked character progression and becous of friends
1st place goes to one small 2d mmorpg called Adventure Quest World which i play since 2010 and i still do and idk why i have no friends there nor gameplay is something amayzing but i like the artstyle lore too

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16:44 Feb-03-2019

You forgot one. The modding community. I wouldn't have near the hours in the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series if it wasn't for the modding community.

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16:49 Feb-03-2019

that is the player created content

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18:06 Feb-03-2019

Whops, missed that one. Thank y ou.

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16:33 Feb-03-2019

I've sunk 4,659 hours into Guild Wars 2. What keeps me coming back? Its not pay 2 win, no subscription. The gameplay is engaging, the progression is well paced and in spite of the failed ESL, the PvP and WvW scene is still strong. Most of all: guild has become like family, I'd miss them too much to permaquit.

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16:32 Feb-03-2019

it's always that random element for me,
be it procedurally generated maps in strategy games, cars/drivers in arcade racing, loot dungeons in rpgs etc..
I never like online games because they just consume time for little to no advancement xD

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16:59 Feb-03-2019

Same. Plus I hate logging into a game just to see it completely rebalanced/changed/etc. Can't stand online games for that. Early access too. I still remember Minecraft kept changing and changing and changing to the point where it was such a different game at the end.

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16:25 Feb-03-2019

Friends

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16:24 Feb-03-2019

The only games that keep me playing are: Dota 2, starcraft 2. I play less and less sc2 because it is hard and needs a dedication which I don't have right now.


But for dota 2 there are:
-Rank system
-Competition
-Tournaments
-Many mods, maps which I don't play but others do
-And occasionally changing the game through big patches + adding new heroes. And many more things.


Also its fun.

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