Jump to content
dumpster

What do trophies teach publishers about gameplay habits?

Recommended Posts

I have never seen a 100% earned rate on a trophy, but there are plenty that are awarded right at the start of a game. I always assumed that was from alternate accounts (although a game has to at least be launched once for a trophy set to register right?)

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the game has been on GWG or PSPlus that normally skews the results massively. At the same time I remember in 2003 the Tony Hawks Decs knew that most players would not see the last level.

 

It doesn't help though that gamers and especially journalists will mark down a 5 hour action packed solid game because it only lasts 5 hours but will race about the same game if it has 20 hours of padding.

 

You can see from most games that few complete them and fewer still 100% them and yet development has not really changed. Go look at some COD achievements, games with short action packed campaigns and even they have low completion amounts.

 

So have Devs learnt anything? Probably not as I know in my time in game development there was very little looking at the past and what went right and wrong mainly due to a lack of time on the brand new project. Even if they did remove all the stuff no one noticed, IGN and the like, despite having horrible deadlines to play tonnes of games would still moan it's not a 60 epic with millions of side quests and rank the game poorly.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife sometimes turns a console on and loads the game in the disk drive assuming it's still the game she left in there.  She quits as soon as she realises, but her trophy and achievement lists have a few games with no trophies / achievements as a result.  Similarly, I sometimes load up a game without realising until I try to continue my saved game that I've signed into her profile.

 

So that might partially explain the mystery.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'll have several games where I've downloaded it, opened it, played 2 minutes and decided I don't want to play it. So presumably what you're learning is how many people load games by accident or in a shop to see if it works etc.

 

If the opening, can't-miss trophies only get 65% of people that loaded the game, you can use that to figure out a bit better how many players of the game get further through.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, bum said:

My wife sometimes turns a console on and loads the game in the disk drive assuming it's still the game she left in there.  She quits as soon as she realises, but her trophy and achievement lists have a few games with no trophies / achievements as a result.  Similarly, I sometimes load up a game without realising until I try to continue my saved game that I've signed into her profile.

 

So that might partially explain the mystery.

I never even considered that. What a good answer, cheers.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So looking at other games, there does seem to be a 35 - 40% margin of error on most of them.  That is to say, of all the games I own where there is an obvious "everyone should have this" trophy, about 35-40% of players have not awarded it, and the multiple profiles on one console issue may be the answer.  It seems there is a flaw in the Playstation system - perhaps they should change it so that only the players who actually do play the game are included in the stats. Because as stated above, if someone loads your disc in error, they are contributing to the stats even if they don't start the game.  As with the Resi Origins example above, the system thinks that 36% of players haven't managed to defeat the first zombie, where surely 100% of people who intentionally try to play it have done so.  That still seems a high figure, although I guess Resi has two games on it, maybe a number of players are working their way through Resi Zero and haven't started Re:Make yet.  Of course, the issue is that this affects the rarity of all trophies and achievements, because if your Platinum trophy was only reached by 1% of players, that too is affected by the 40% of players that never actually started the game and had no chance of getting any of the trophies. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the Spyro trilogy installed, but I've only played the first one.  When I get home, I'll have a look and see if the other two appear in my trophy list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I personally think that most games are far too long and the fun generally runs out long before the game finishes. I think the stats suggest that's true for a lot of people.

 

That said, even if the devs knew that most people weren't completing their games I'm not sure they'd choose to make them shorter if they actually want people to buy them at full price.

 

The most important thing with most games is to initially get someone to buy the game and regardless of whether people will actually complete the game after buying it, gamers have been conditioned for years to equate number of hours with good value for money when considering a new purchase.

 

It means that a grind-heavy game filled with stat levelling and/or with a bunch of repetitive side missions is considered an acceptable full price purchase, but a game with no padding and an exciting 5 hour campaign but a lot of replayability is something that people think only warrants a budget price.

I suspect padding out a game doesn't cost that much relative to the initial heavy lifting involved in making the foundation etc so the suggestion that a game that's half as long should cost half as much seems flawed to me.

 

I reckon 10-15 hours is the threshold where people will accept that a game is full price and I'd imagine a lot of games have been padded beyond what is actually enjoyable to reach that number of hours.

 

A lot of games that would have once been 10-20 hour experiences are now 60 hours thanks to unnessessary open worlds and ubiquitous "rpg elements" (ie stat levelling systems).

 

I blame marketing and games journalists. Back in the early 2000s nearly every arcade style game that came out seemed to be marked down because you could play through it on novice/credit feeding in an hour or whatever.

Then "linear" (as opposed to open world) became a dirty word in games journalism.

 

I think it's pretty interesting. Is there any other entertainment medium where just having a higher number of hours for someone to sink in is seen as such a plus?

  • Upvote 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There has to be something to explain why I still fire up Contra on the 360 and play from start to finish in about 10 minutes, and have continued to go back to it on an ad-hoc basis since 2006 when I bought it. Also I played it in the arcades when I was at school age.  The whole game can be completed in no time, but it has endless replayability. Yet I haven't gone back to GTA5 since I completed the single player mode the first time, have no interest in RDR2, and I consider playing Last of Us occasionally but can't be bothered with that introductory couple of hours and so it puts me off beginning again.  

 

Even Resi7 is a hard one to get back into because even though you can speedrun it in about 90 minutes, that opening sequence with Mia, cool as it is, is about 20 minutes. As I walk over to the shelf and choose a game to play, I keep seeing Resi7 and I do want to give it another play through but I know I'll be watching unskippable cut scenes and slowly walking from animated sequence to animated sequence for the first 20 minutes, so I end up playing something else, something instantly replayable. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One's an arcade game, the others are long form stories. They're not built with the same design goals, so why should you use the pick up and play nature of one as a stick to beat the others?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, partious said:

I blame marketing and games journalists. Back in the early 2000s nearly every arcade style game that came out seemed to be marked down because you could play through it on novice/credit feeding in an hour or whatever.

Then "linear" (as opposed to open world) became a dirty word in games journalism.

 

I think it's pretty interesting. Is there any other entertainment medium where just having a higher number of hours for someone to sink in is seen as such a plus?

 

I can tell you from experience that some publishers will demand a game is at least a certain number of hours, and will probably moan if they consider it too short. For starters I think its seen as a value for money thing ("we gave you all this money for a 4 hour game?!"). And for consumers and reviewers a short game is often considered a wasted opportunity or bad value for money, and publishers pick up on that.

 

Same goes for the depth, yes only 10 percent of players might get your trophy but the reviewers will pick up on these extra features. Even if a player never fully explores a game its all about their perception when they first buy it, that it has depth and a ton to offer - even if they never see it. It's like people who buy the best version of a phone with all of these features, but still just use it for calling and texting.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Fry Crayola said:

One's an arcade game, the others are long form stories. They're not built with the same design goals, so why should you use the pick up and play nature of one as a stick to beat the others?

I'm not making that point very well, because I'm mixing two points together in a messy way. It just seems that devs are spending 2 years creating a mammoth, sprawling, epic game with collectibles , side quests, hidden bonuses, hundreds of challenges, then the trophy data shows a minority of people explore the game enough to justify it. However the earlier replies make me think that there's a discrepancy in those figures caused by players putting the disk in the player in error on their profiles.  So maybe the figures are innacurate and the majority of players do play the majority of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, gotcha. I think the majority don't, even accounting for false positives. People find they don't like the game, they get bored, something else comes along that they move to, life gets in the way and when they return to the game, it's too much effort to pick up where they left off. For some, they'll get enough out of it long before the finals stretches and never bother seeing it completion. Maybe they played the single player for a bit but gravitated to the multiplayer modes. Perhaps it's not their console, so they don't get time to dedicate to a game, only playing in bursts and unable to stick with one title. And you've got scores of people who only really play one game, and so when they get another they might play it for a few hours but never go back to it because FIFA or Fortnite is their go-to fix.

 

For many people, the idea of finishing a game just isn't something they care about. They just dip in for a while and then something else catches their eye. Making games shorter would increase the completion percentage (my Xbox One shows a 61.3% completion for Firewatch, compared to 20.4% for RDR2), but I don't think it'd increase the amount of time they actually spend playing the game, or indeed be something they'll happily fork over the same amount for even if they don't touch most of what's there. Perception of value, as CrashedAlex says, can be everything.

 

It's an interesting topic though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, RDR2 looks like a good one to look at.

 

According to my PS4 Trophies, 90% of people that booted RDR2 up completed the first part. This then drops for each chapter trophy: 82% for Chapter 1, 44% for Chapter 3, 28% finished the story, 24% complete the Epilogue.

 

So yes, people tend to drop off during a big game. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, bum said:

I have the Spyro trilogy installed, but I've only played the first one.  When I get home, I'll have a look and see if the other two appear in my trophy list.

 

Yep.  All three games are in the trophy list, even though I've never even loaded the sequels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Developers have been lamenting the fact the vast majority of people who buy their games never complete them for decades, now they can see just how bad the problem is in minute detail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does this create an issue where the perceived value of a game is reduced because the player didn't stick with it? For example,  customer buys Red Dead Redemption 2 for £60. Plays to end of second section and stops.  Then, when Red Dead 3 comes out, they say "no point in buying that, I barely touched the last one"

 

Compared to:

 

Red Dead 2 gets released with half the content of the game we know. Its £19.99 and is an impulse purchase on the shelf at Asda.  Customer plays it to the end, finishes it in a couple of weeks of casual play, maybe returns to sections to 100% it, but ultimately can't wait for Rdr3. 

 

The issue of pricing in games is often discussed here, but there does appear to be a disconnected where people pay £60 for a game then give up a quarter of the way through it.  And of course, if all games are these sprawling epics, players are less likely to buy a new game if they still have one on the go. We discussed on the forum the failure of TitanFall 2, which is bloody fantastic but seems to be the victim of a crowded marketplace. Could all three of the AAA titles that released on that same day have been succesfull if they were shorter and launched at £20?

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But the campaign mode of Titanfall 2 is hardly long in the first place according to most people or reviewers, its commercial underperformance is down to the fact it failed to attract and retain a large multiplayer userbase. Cutting the content level wouldn't have helped, it would have probably made things worse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year I played through "Just Cause 3" on my new PC. 4K 60hz and I really enjoyed the game.  Helicopters, explosions, wingsuits.

 

It took me 56hrs to get through it.

 

Another favourite game of mine is "State of Decay 2" - wonderful stuff. They had for me for 100hrs.

 

There was a glorious heatwave last Summer. And I look back with regret because I locked myself in a dark room playing through "State"

 

Neither of these games needed to be that big or that long.

 

JC was like an old Arnie movie - and that's fine by me. But "Predator" wasn't 21 1hr episodes - it was 90minutes.

 

I would love it if the games were way shorter. I'd rather have a killer five hours than a drawn out 56. Was it really that different between hour six and hour fifty-six? I'm not sure.

 

As a developer I think if I can get you to play for five hours then I've done pretty well.

 

When I was younger, we only had three channels. Shops were closed on Sundays and Bank Holiday weekends could be torture. Big films came out once or twice a year, and we used to start getting excited about the big Christmas films on TV in early September. Hence I could play VIC-20 titles for months because there was little else entertainment around.

 

Flash forward a few decades and I am starting to question why I would stick with some of these games. "State" would have been a KILLER 5 hour game.

 

Some of it comes from some old story that FAMITSU thought any RPG under 40hrs was had "low software quality..."

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dumpster said:

Does this create an issue where the perceived value of a game is reduced because the player didn't stick with it? For example,  customer buys Red Dead Redemption 2 for £60. Plays to end of second section and stops.  Then, when Red Dead 3 comes out, they say "no point in buying that, I barely touched the last one"

 

Compared to:

 

Red Dead 2 gets released with half the content of the game we know. Its £19.99 and is an impulse purchase on the shelf at Asda.  Customer plays it to the end, finishes it in a couple of weeks of casual play, maybe returns to sections to 100% it, but ultimately can't wait for Rdr3. 

 

The problem is, that's a hypothetical scenario. An equally valid one is that the game comes out, customer plays it to the end in the manner you describe, and then when Red Dead Redemption 3's announced they shrug because they've already got a Red Dead game that satisfied them enough.

 

I think the market is heavily focused on enticing people to buy this particular game that's released right now, because the majority customers aren't loyal fanboys who'll follow a franchise. They'll be drawn to whatever new thing is heavily promoted. Many of the people who play and don't finish RDR2 will buy a third game in the series because in the months leading up to release, it's hyped as the next big thing, their friends are all taking about it, and they want to be a part of the fuss. The first game was heavily advertised as well - and on the 360, only 23.01% of people finished John Marston's story, and only 16.42% finished the epilogue. Clearly, that didn't affect the commercial success of the sequel.

 

Scaling down the offering in order to create repeat custom isn't going to work on them, and there are far more of them than there are of us - the type of people who'll buy a game that isn't marketed heavily just because we like the series and the developer's previous work.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, mushashi said:

But the campaign mode of Titanfall 2 is hardly long in the first place according to most people or reviewers, its commercial underperformance is down to the fact it failed to attract and retain a large multiplayer userbase. Cutting the content level wouldn't have helped, it would have probably made things worse.

Sorry, again I'm being unclear.  Mixing up three other points in my head.  What I was meaning was that TF2 came at the same time as Battlefield, Mafia, Metal Gear 5, world of final fantasy, skyrim deluxe and so on.  Most people haven't got the money to play everything they would like to play and one game emerges as the winner. Titanfall was a great game and deserved to do well but I'd be pretty confident that the reason it didn't find it's customer base is that there were too many other games competing for the money.  It is hypothetical , but I'd wager that if all these games were shorter and cheaper, more games would get a piece of the pie, but if you commit to Battlefield, the multiplayer, DLC etc. will eat into your time way more than the games of 20 years ago would, and you won't get around to Titanfall until it's been deemed a failure, if at all.  

 

That's not the question I originally posed though and I'm all over the place with thoughts on this one.  The whole world seems to have too much of everything these days, with too much TV, too much news, no-one can keep up. There was no reason for Titanfall to do badly but it surely harmed the companies responsible when it didn't sell well, and its been £4 on the stores recently. If all the games stopped with the DLC, the massive sprawling epic levels of 100 hour gameplay, maybe a typical gamer might have bought all the games that weekend?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, mushashi said:

Developers have been lamenting the fact the vast majority of people who buy their games never complete them for decades, now they can see just how bad the problem is in minute detail.

 

I'm sure I've read old interviews with Gabe Newell in which he talked about how Valve tracked players' completion statistics in the HL/Portal games, even before Steam introduced Achievements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the comments from reviewers of Crackdown 3 illustrate the reason why developers will not be in any rush to cut content anytime soon, probably more likely the exact opposite if you are making premium priced software:

 

Quote

 

Crackdown 3 is ultimately the tale of two price points. At $60, it's pretty difficult to recommend. The content spread just isn't there, there are other games available now or very soon that will probably be a far better investment. However, Xbox Game Pass completely changes the argument. As a $10 payment for a month's worth of access, Crackdown 3 is some decent mindless fun, tossing tanks into the sky, spraying rockets across the map, or punching dudes into buildings. Wrecking Zone is also worth a look, if for no reason other than the impressive destruction mechanics.

 

Crackdown 3 just doesn't meet contemporary standards as a premium $60 title, with dated visuals, thin gameplay features, and an under-delivered story. There are too many open world superhero-style games that simply do it better. That said, it's not a bad game, by any means. To enjoy Crackdown 3, you probably need to be the type of person who really likes basic sandbox mayhem, because that's effectively all Crackdown 3 has (and wants) to offer.

 

 

Quote

All this said, I’d be extremely hesitant to recommend anyone part with $60 for it. There’s just not enough here. Still, all things considered, Crackdown 3 being this enjoyable represents a minor miracle, and I’d love to see what these teams are capable of with the franchise without being dicked around by corporate for half a decade.

 

Quote

Paying $60 for this thing would be downright foolish. It's short and bland on the campaign end and the two multiplayer modes aren't worth your time. But if you're already a subscriber to Microsoft's service and can play this for no additional charge, it's a passable little bit of junk food that might hold your attention for an afternoon or two.

 

 

And this is a game which had a lot of money thrown at it, cutting the price and investment would likely give you the exact same result from reviewers, it'd just be cheaper with even less content, but same reviewer sentiment about the content/polish level not justifying the price being charged.

 

 

 

A game designer wrote an article about why it doesn't actually matter if most players don't complete your games anyway:

 

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/195318/Most_players_wont_finish_your_game__and_thats_not_a_bad_thing.php

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course if Crackdown 3 came out at £30 those reviewers would still paint the lack of content as a negative with something like “the publisher knows they can’t justify a full price”. The concept that a game has exactly the right amount of content as designed seems beyond them.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, dumpster said:

Sorry, again I'm being unclear.  Mixing up three other points in my head.  What I was meaning was that TF2 came at the same time as Battlefield, Mafia, Metal Gear 5, world of final fantasy, skyrim deluxe and so on.  Most people haven't got the money to play everything they would like to play and one game emerges as the winner. Titanfall was a great game and deserved to do well but I'd be pretty confident that the reason it didn't find it's customer base is that there were too many other games competing for the money.  It is hypothetical , but I'd wager that if all these games were shorter and cheaper, more games would get a piece of the pie, but if you commit to Battlefield, the multiplayer, DLC etc. will eat into your time way more than the games of 20 years ago would, and you won't get around to Titanfall until it's been deemed a failure, if at all.  

 

That's not the question I originally posed though and I'm all over the place with thoughts on this one.  The whole world seems to have too much of everything these days, with too much TV, too much news, no-one can keep up. There was no reason for Titanfall to do badly but it surely harmed the companies responsible when it didn't sell well, and its been £4 on the stores recently. If all the games stopped with the DLC, the massive sprawling epic levels of 100 hour gameplay, maybe a typical gamer might have bought all the games that weekend?

 

I think your point about too much content in general competing for your time is part of the problem. Game X has to compete with a whole bunch of things for your time/money, so how do they go about that? For offline games, sheer quantity of content seems the option favoured by most of the big publishers and given the reception the best selling games get, which are usually also the ones which get praised by reviewers as being worth your money due to masses of polished content, it would seem to not matter if only a small portion of the customer base actually ever consumes it all, it's the mere fact you've provided such a lavish spread that will get them to dine at your restaurant over a rival choice.

 

Games like to come out around Christmas to maximise their opportunity to sell a load of copies as gifts and unfortunately there is only so much money to go around so somebody is going to lose in a highly competitive market, much like in the cinema, people aren't going to watch every big blockbuster film and some will win and some will lose. Titanfall 2 made money, just not loads of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I right in thinking that the data we can see as players (trophies, total play times) is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the developers actually get back? I remember in the Half-Life 2 commentary tracks they had all this detail about how they fine-tuned the game design based on precise information about exactly how players had gone through the previous episodes, and AI In Games had this terrific video about how they learned from how different players approached different aspects of the Tomb Raider games:

 

 

Imagine what you could do with that data in a sequel to an open world game, consequences for stupid unscripted things they discovered people got up to...

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.