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Certain games popular and not others?

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Counter-Strike has had over 50,000 players on at any one time for the last several years (and its up to almost 100,000 players sometimes). Battlefield Vietnam and Battlefield 1942 have over 15,000 players on right now together. Call of Duty has over 10,000 players on. Many other FPS (either tactical or real-war-based) games have several thousand players at any one time as well. Why? What, specially, do people like about these games? They aren''t extremely well balanced, they don''t have the best graphics, they don''t have the best gameplay (IMO of course). Overall, none of the games seems in any way excellent above the millions of games and mods that have similar gameplay or even offer something entirely different. What makes the games at the top of GameSpy Stats so loved by the masses?

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quote:
Original post by Extrarius
Why? What, specially, do people like about these games? They aren''t extremely well balanced, they don''t have the best graphics, they don''t have the best gameplay (IMO of course).
As you said, "your opinion". Many people don''t share your opinion and they do think these games are great/better than anything else out there. They like the "real world" aspect of the games over the more "fantasy" games such as Quake and the various D&D style RPGs.

In fact I think the real world aspect is vital to their success. In the early days of the industry hardcore gamers were open to all different ideas. Games like Metroid, Mario, Sonic etc were the big titles. It wasn''t the setting for the game that mattered but the game play. That is still true today (for the hardcore) but not for the mainstream. They prefer/buy games they understand. If you look at the most successful video games today you will see that a lot of them are titles that a non-gamer would understand. Sports, WWII, Gangsters (GTA etc) and known licenses from TV/Movies.

There are lots of really great games out there, such as "Beyond Good and Evil", that just aren''t selling and I think a large part of that is because the mass market doesn''t understand them - and the marketing depts are failing in their job to educate people.



Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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You also have to look at it from a different perspective.

Counter-Strike is only popular because Half-Life was popular. If Half-Life was a flop, Counter-Strike would probably not even exist as we know it.

You tend to buy games you like. Battlefield and Call of Duty are very ''specific'' in their war genres. Half-Life was more like a FPS without a real ''genre'' behind it. It was a little logic, a little shooting and a little fantasy. So more people bought Half-Life, and thus more people play Counter-Strike.

Even if only 25% of the people who own Half-Life play Counter-Strike, but Half-Life sold 4x as many copies of all the other ''specific games'' the stats can become pretty skewed.

I hope that makes sense =P

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quote:
Original post by Obscure
[...]As you said, "your opinion". Many people don''t share your opinion[...]
I understand that, but I want to know why. I can give specific reasons that I don''t really like counterstrike anymore, such as the introduction of EXTREME randomness for bullet fire over several versions (played beta 5? everything was almost perfectly accurate and you could point and shoot even while flying through the air. Now, in 1.6, if you haven''t been standing still for several seconds its damn near impossible to hit on purpose). The battlefield games are excruciatingly slow and their vehicles aren''t really that great compared to some other games, etc.

I''m looking for specific aspects people like about the games, not just ''its realistic'' or ''its a good tactical shooter''.

I''ve seen hundreds of mods that are simmilar to popular games (that often came out before the popular game) that have never been known by anybody despite announcements on major websites that should have earned them at least a few players for a while.

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quote:
Original post by Extrarius
Counter-Strike has had over 50,000 players on at any one time for the last several years (and its up to almost 100,000 players sometimes).

Battlefield Vietnam and Battlefield 1942 have over 15,000 players on right now together.

Call of Duty has over 10,000 players on.

Many other FPS (either tactical or real-war-based) games have several thousand players at any one time as well.


Why? What, specially, do people like about these games? They aren''t extremely well balanced, they don''t have the best graphics, they don''t have the best gameplay (IMO of course). Overall, none of the games seems in any way excellent above the millions of games and mods that have similar gameplay or even offer something entirely different. What makes the games at the top of GameSpy Stats so loved by the masses?


You just asked the billion dollar question. If anyone here comes up with the correct answer, I''m sure they will soon be contacted by a thousand and one marketing departments. Stand ready to start cashing checks.

You might as well ask "Why do so many people like pepperoni pizza? What makes it so popular?" The obvious answer--"Because it tastes good, dummy!"--is as subjective as the answer to "What specifically do people like about these games?" Equally valid answers may be "Because it''s cheesy!", "Because it has all four of the food groups!", "Because it lays down a nice protective coating of plaque to protect my poor, defenseless artery walls!" Which is right? Which is wrong? To Joe, who values the protection of defenseless arterial walls, the last may be correct. For Susan, the first may be correct.

To adequately answer a question like this, you would have to systematically quiz every player of those games, and submit the answers in nicely compiled, bulleted format, updating it each time a new gamer buys the game.

Game development is almost as much hit-and-miss as it is concrete knowledge of what gamers want. That is why so many games these days are sequels, rather than ground-breaking newness. A game is released, people love it, and rabbity marketing departments sieze on that like a drowning man on a floating log. Despite their market evaluations, their studies and surveys, past experience has shown that they can''t answer the question any more than anyone in this forum could. Some games float, some games sink, and sometimes only God knows why. (Although, for some games, the real stinkers, the reasons for sinking are very obvious.)

My personal opinion of many(most) of the games on the top ten list is actually very low. I''ve never enjoyed first person shooters at all, so that is no surprise.


Golem
Blender--The Gimp--Python--Lua--SDL
Nethack--Crawl--ADOM--Angband--Dungeondweller

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I think everybody misunderstood my intent (and rereading my post it is easy to see why).

I don't expect to be able to learn why games are popular in general. I just want to know what features you like best about the games listed.

Game design was probably not the best forum for this post, as I'm looking for less of an academic evaluation and more of an opinion poll, but I figure game designers can probably be more articulate about their opinions related to game design =-)

Let me repost my fixed up version of this post that I posted on another forum (of course I posted it on GameDev first, so the original post of this thread was kinda my extra rough draft)
quote:
I'm trying to figure out what qualities make certain FPS games (such as counter-Strike, with over 50k players at any one time, and Battlefield* with over 15k) so popular.
The games and mods that do well don't seem to be extraordinarily balanced, have the best graphics, or the best anything really, yet they still succeed extremely well. There has to be some reason for them to become so popular when similar games and mods fail to hold even a few players.

I'd prefer if you actually state why you feel the way you do. Saying "X has great teamplay!" is not very helpful. It'd be much better if you could explain what aspects you feel make the teamplay for X enjoyable, what features encourage teamplay the best in your opinion, and other more specific things. There are many games with similar features and some are considered good and others not, so I need specific answers to help find out why the popular ones are popular and why the others are not.

I'm interested in hearing what specific features/aspects of the following games make them stand above the rest to you:
    Call of Duty
    Counter-Strike
    Battlefield 1942/Vietnam


[edited by - Extrarius on April 4, 2004 11:04:19 PM]

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CS:
It's popular because it's an extension to Half-life, and partly because it is VERY accessible. Almost any PC can run it perfectly fine, so the audience for it is huge. It's also accessible because it's easy to be successful when you get the hang of it. You don't need traditional FPS skills which take a while to train.

Battlefield:
These are less accessible than CS (steeper system requirement) but it's based on WWII (and now Vietnam) which has seen a lot of popularity in the media recently (Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, look on the History Channel, etc.). It is also features vehicles as a major part of the gameplay which just boosts the popularity.

Call of Duty:
Fewest players because the designers are going for realism (in their own way) and the game isn't as easy to play. Any player with some traditional FPS skills can easily dominate here, so many players lose enough and leave. The realism keeps some of the competitive players away (bunny hopping was eliminated), and the fact that it's the only game listed here without a standard anti-cheat system keeps even more away.

[edited by - Kohai on April 5, 2004 10:16:31 PM]

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My opinion: 5 things the good online games have at least 3 of.
1) Good competition and/or interaction
2) Solid, fun, fast gameplay
3) Shooting other people (sniper)
4) Modding or character building
5) Solid graphics

One of the older Gamasutra articles concluded that any game with a sniper mode makes it more appealing to gamers.

Obviously these aspects cannot be specifically defined, however gamers know when a game is missing or lacking in any of these areas.

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What I think makes a great game is one that everyone can identify with but also where you can do things that you wouldn't do in real life.

Battlefield 1942 is popular because you are able to drive tanks and alike, and who hasn't ever thought about joining the army just to drive a tank! The diversity of battlefield 1942 also makes it popular because you can also fly helicopters and be a sharpshooter.

As you can tell I like that game. There is so much to making a good game, and so much more to making a great game.

Last thing - something new to the gaming scene will often make it more popular.

Something revolutionary will make it popular.

[edited by - chris_ward1000 on April 6, 2004 9:37:46 AM]

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One thing to consider: a game may be popular simply _because_ it''s popular. The same applies to movies, sports, languages (programming ones or not), etc.

The question of "why did it become popular" remains, but the answer to that question is often related to other things than quality (marketing hype, unrepeatable historic circumstances, etc.).

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