The term gamer includes everyone from those who can play puzzle games on their two-hour commute to people who spend all weekend in a virtual world. Yet they all share a common set of expectations regarding performance. So, what makes for a good gaming experience?
An Immersive Experience
Most people game for fun or to escape from daily life. This is why a good gaming experience is one that immerses you in the world. It might be an engaging zombie hunt or a fun-to-explore virtual world. You might be building something with virtual blocks or trying to defeat the monster. The point is to have fun or tackle the challenge, not get long boring lectures or sit through data dumps best left to a tie-in novel. In other games, they can immerse themselves in the game because you’re trying to beat the game before the clock runs out.
Anything that gets in the way of gameplay distracts from the gaming experience. Internet lag that causes you to miss your shot or be eaten by the monster obviously hurts your gaming experience. Taking forever to download patches and save your game to the cloud detracts from your experience, too. This is why a good internet connection is essential to good gameplay, if you’re not playing off a disk in the console or a locally installed app. How do you get smooth gameplay like this? It typically takes a combination of low latency and high bandwidth. The best router for gaming will prioritize the internet connection for the gaming console over other devices in the household.
Too many video game designers think people want realistic characters and richly rendered backgrounds. In reality, people want great stories. They prefer grand adventures and a higher calling to be the hero over an ultra-realistic world where there is nothing to do but wander around and appreciate the alien landscape. That’s why games like “The Last of Us” and “Halo” were such great sellers whereas some with better graphics fell flat. The ability to play with friends is a bonus, though your game needs to be able to keep everyone in sync and not lag as friends join in.
The exception to this rule would worlds where people are building their own worlds. This includes Minecraft and puzzle games. Roblox is an interesting hybrid of these two concepts. You go to create games that others play. It is a cross between Minecraft and low level games created by various studios. In this case, it is the social aspect that attracts people. And you see it in some of the best-selling puzzle games, too, like Words with Friends.
We’ve already mentioned that games that resemble a beautiful canvas rarely matter to consumers, unless they’re building something they can show off to others. And a challenge doesn’t require high end graphics or complex gameplay. Best-selling brain teaser games are a good example of this. So are simple timed puzzle games with basic graphics. Think Bejeweled and Candy Crush. There doesn’t even have to be a storyline for quick, challenging games like these.