The Fallacy of Replay Value in Video Games has been a long-standing debate, as players weigh up the potential to play a game multiple times against the newcomer, revisiting the same experience until it becomes tedious. Reacting to this argument, Extra Punctuation columnist Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw has posited his own view in his article “The Fallacy of Replay Value in Video Games – Extra Punctuation – The Escapist”.
Yahtzee questions whether games must have be replayed in order to make them encompass higher value. He contests that if a game needs to be replayed to be considered good, then it is not good enough in the first place. He goes on to assert that the innate enjoyment of playing a game, which may consist of different types of games, that can be best described as the “sticky quality of a great game,” are actually more gratifying than being forced to ‘grind’ your way to a higher score.
Yahtzee’s hypothesis has some merit, given the current state of entertainment media. Thanks to the emergence of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other streaming services, viewers enjoy top quality, uninterrupted entertainment thanks to the subscription-based model rather than having to buy entire boxsets to get the same content. Likewise, the offerings of competing gaming streaming services such as PlayStation Now have expanded the range of options available in the gaming library.
Yahtzee further argues that in the case of many modern games there is no need to force a title to be replayed unnecessarily, as the amount of content supplied in the game is often sufficient as it is. He highlights the examples of games such as Grand Theft Auto 5, which can offer traditionally single player gamers the sophisticated, varied gameplay experience without adding the burden of replay value.
Ultimately, Yahtzee’s notion of the “realistic replay value” versus the “vanity replay value” is spot-on. Video games in this day and age should be judged based on the merits of their individual narrative, gameplay, and technical aspects, rather than on whether or not they are replayable. Forcing replay on gamers can often diminish the powerful and unique experience that a title can offer if played once through, and can become stale after multiple replays. Games that provide enough content and compelling experiences in their initial iterations should be justly celebrated as great games, and encouraged as the new gold standard.